Ad te suspiramus gementes et flentes in hac lacrymarum valle.





The Necessity of the Intercession of Mary for our Salvation

 That it is not only lawful but useful to invoke and pray to the saints, and more especially to the Queen of saints, the most holy and ever blessed Virgin Mary, in order that they may obtain us the divine grace, is an article faith, and has been defined by general Councils, against heretics who condemned it as injurious to Jesus Christ, who is our only mediator, but if a Jeremias after his death prayed for Jerusalem (2 Mach. xv. 14); if the ancients of the Apocalypse presents the prayers of the saints to God (Apoc. v. 8); if a St. Peter promises his disciples that after his death he will be mindful of them (2 Pet. L. 15);  if a holy Stephen prays for his persecutors (Act. vii. 59); if a St. Paul prays for his companions (Act. xxvii. 24; Eph. ii. 16; Phil. i. 4; Col. I. 3); if, in fine, the saints can pray for us, why cannot we beseech the saints to intercede for us?  St. Paul recommends himself to the prayers of his disciples:  Brethren, pray for us ("Orate pro nobis"—1 Thess. v. 25).  St. James exhorts us to pray one for another:  Pray one for another, that you may be saved ("Orate pro invicem, ut salvemini"—James, v. 16).  Then we can do the same.

            No one denies that Jesus Christ is our only mediator of justice, and that he by his merits has obtained our reconciliation with God.  But, on the other hand, it is impious to assert that God is not pleased to grant graces at the intercession of his saints, and more especially of Mary his Mother, whom Jesus desires to much to see loved and honored by all.  Who can pretend that the honor bestowed on a mother does not redound to the honor of the son?  The glory of children are their fathers ("Gloria filiorum, patres eorum"—Prov. xvii. 6).  Whence St. Bernard says, "Let us not imagine that we obscure the glory of the Son by the great praise we lavish on the mother; for the more she is honored, the greater is the glory of the Son."  "There can be no doubt," says the saint, "that whatever we say in praise of the Mother is equally in praise of the Son" ("Non est dubium, quidquid in laudibus Matris proferimus, ad Filium pertinere"—De Laud. V. M. hom. 4).  And St. Ildephonsus also says, "That which is given to the Mother redounds to the Son; the honor given to the Queen is honor bestowed on the King" ("Redundat ad Filium, quod impenditur Matri; transit honor in Regem; qui defertur in famulatum Reginae"—De Virginit. S. M. c. 12).  There can be no doubt that by the merits of Jesus, Mary was made the mediatress of our salvation; not indeed a mediatress of justice, but of grace and intercession; as St. Bonaventure expressly calls her "Mary, the most faithful mediatress of our salvation" ("Maria, fidelissima Mediatrix nostrae salutis"—Spec. B. V. M. lect. 9).  And St. Laurence Justinian asks, "How can she be otherwise than full of grace, who has been made the ladder to paradise, the gate of heaven, the most true mediatress between God and man?" (Quomodo non est plena gratia, quae effecta est paradise Scala; coeli Janua; Dei et hominum verissima Mediatrix?" —S. in Ann. B. M.)

            Hence the learned Suarez justly remarks, that if we implore our Blessed Lady to obtain us a favor, it is not because we distrust the divine mercy, but rather that we fear our own unworthiness and the absence of proper dispositions; and we recommend ourselves to Mary, that her dignity may supply for our lowliness.  He says that we apply to Mary "in order that the dignity of the intercessor may supply for our misery.  Hence, to invoke the aid of the most Blessed Virgin is not diffidence in the divine mercy, but dread of our own unworthiness" ("Ut dignitas intercessoris suppleat inopiam nostram; unde Virginem interpellare, non est de divina misericordia diffidere, sed de propria indignitate timere"—De Inc. p. 2, d. 23, s. 3).   

            That it is most useful and holy to have recourse to the intercession of Mary can only be doubted by those who have not faith.  But that which we intend to prove here is, that the intercession of Mary is even necessary to salvation; we say necessary—not absolutely, but morally.  This necessity proceeds from the will itself of God, that all graces that he dispenses should pass through the hands of Mary, according to the opinion of St. Bernard, and which we may now with safety call the general opinion of theologians and learned men.  The author of the Reign of Mary positively asserts that such is the case.  It is maintained by Vega, Mendoza, Paciucchelli, Segneri, Poirι, Crasset, and by innumerable other learned authors.  Even Father Natalis Alexander, who always uses so much reserve in his propositions, even he says that it is the will of God that we should expect all graces through the intercession of Mary.  I will give his own words:  "God wills that we should obtain all good things that we hope for from him through the powerful intercession of the Virgin Mother, and we shall obtain them whenever (as we are in duty bound) we invoke her" ("Deus vult ut omnia bona ab ipso exspectemus, potentissima Virginis Matris intercessione, cum eam, ut par est, invocamus, impetranda"—Ep. 50 in calce Theol.).  In confirmation of this, he quotes the following celebrated passage of St. Bernard: "Such is God's will, that we should have all through Mary" ("Sic est voluntas ejus, qui totum nos habere voluit per Mariam"—De Aquaed).  Father Contenson is also of the same opinion; for, explaining the words addressed by our Lord on the cross to St. John: Behold thy Mother ("Ecce mater tua"—John, xix, 27), he remarks, "That it is the same thing as if he had said: As no one can be saved except through the merits of my sufferings and death, so no one will be a partaker of the blood then shed otherwise than through the prayer of my Mother.  He alone is a son of my sorrows who has Mary for his Mother.  My wounds are ever-flowing fountains of grace; but their streams will reach no one but by the channel of Mary.  In vain will he invoke me as a Father who has not venerated Mary as a Mother.  And thou, my disciple John, if thou lovest me, love her; for thou wilt be beloved by Me in proportion to thy love for her ("Quasi diceret: Nullus sanguinis illius particeps erit, nisi intercessione Matris meae.  Vulnera gratiarum fonts sunt; sed ad nullos derivabuntur rivi, nisi per Marianum canalem.  Joannes discipule, tantum a me amaberis, quantum eam amaveris"—Theol. Mentis et cord. t. 2, l. 10, d. 4, c. 1)

            This proposition (that all that we receive from our Lord comes through Mary) does not exactly please a certain modern writer* (*This author is the celebrated Muratori.  An anonymous writer having attacked St. Alphonsus on the subject of the reproach directed here against Muratori, and of the doctrine maintained in this chapter, the saint sent him a reply which will be found at the end of this work.—Ed.), who, although in other respects he speaks of true and false devotion with much learning and piety, yet when he treats of devotion towards the divine mother he seems to grudge her that glory which was given her without scruple by a St. Germanus, a St. Anselm, a St. John Damascene, a St. Bonaventure, a St. Antoninus, a St. Bernardine, the Venerable Abbot of Celles, and so many other learned men, who had no difficulty to affirming that the intercession of Mary is not only useful, but necessary.  The same author says that the proposition that God grants no grace otherwise than through Mary, is hyperbolical and exaggerated, having dropped from the lips of some saints in the heat of fervor, but whicvh, correctly speaking, is only to be understood as meaning that through Mary we received Jesus Christ, by whose merits we obtain all graces; for he adds, "To believe that God can grant us no graces without the intercession of Mary, would be contrary to faith and the doctrine of St. Paul, who says that we acknowledge but one God and one Mediator of God and men the man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. ii. 5).

            But with his leave, and going upon his own admissions, mediation of justice by way of merit is one thing, and mediation by grace by way of prayer is another.  And again, it is one thing to say that God cannot, and another that he will not, grant graces without the intercession of Mary.  We willingly admit that God is the source of every good, and the absolute master of all graces; and that Mary is only a pure creature, who receives whatever she obtains as a pure favor from God.  But who can ever deny that it is most reasonable and proper to assert that God, in order to exalt this great creature, who more than all others honored and loved him during her life, and whom, moreover, he had chosen to be the Mother of his Son, our common Redeemer, wills that all graces that are granted to those whom he has redeemed should pass through and be dispensed by the hands of Mary?  We most readily admit that Jesus Christ is the only Mediator of justice, according to the distinction just made, and that by his merits he obtains us all graces and salvation; but we say that Mary is the mediatress of grace; and that receiving all she obtains through Jesus Christ, and because she prays and asks for it in the name of Jesus Christ, yet all the same whatever graces we receive, they come to us through her intercession.

            There is certainly nothing contrary to faith in this, but the reverse.  It is quite in accordance with the sentiments of the Church, which, in its public and approved prayers, teaches us continually to have recourse to this divine Mother, and to invoke her as the "health of the weak, the refuge of sinners, the help of Christians, and as our life and hope" ("Salus infirmorum, Refugium peccatorum, Auxilium Christianorum, Vita, Spes nostra").  In the Office appointed to be said on the feasts of Mary, this same holy Church, applying the words of Ecclesiasticus to this Blessed Virgin, gives us to understand that in her we find all hope.  In me is all hope of life and of virtue! ("In me omnis spes vitae et virtutis"—Ecclus. xxiv. 25) in Mary is every grace, In me is all grace of the way and of the truth ("In me gratia omnis viae et veritatis"—Ib.).  In Mary, finally, we shall find life and eternal salvation: Who finds me finds life, and draws salvation from the Lord ("Qui me invenerit, inveniet vitam, et hauriet salutem a Domino"—Prov. viii. 35).  And elsewhere: They that work by me shall not sin; they that explain me shall have everlasting life ("Qui operantur in me, non peccabunt.  Qui elucidant me, vitam aeternam habebunt"—Ecclus. xxiv. 30, 31).  And surely such expressions as these sufficiently prove that we require the intercession of Mary.

            Moreover, we are confirmed in this opinion by so many theologians and Fathers, of whom it is certainly incorrect to say, as the above-named author does, that, in exalting Mary, they spoke hyperbolically and allowed great exaggerations to fall from their lips.  To exaggerate and speak hyperbolically is to exceed the limits of truth; and surely we cannot say that saints who were animated by the Spirit of God, which is truth itself, spoke thus.  If I may be allowed to make a short digression, and give my own sentiment, it is, that when an opinion tends in any way to the honor of the most Blessed Virgin, when it has some foundation, and is not repugnant to the faith, nor to the decrees of the Church, nor to truth, the refusal to hold it, or to oppose it because the reverse may be true, shows little devotion to the Mother of God.  Of the number of such as these I do not choose to be, nor do I wish my reader to be so, but rather of the number of those who fully and firmly believe all that can without error be believed of the greatness of Mary, according to the Abbot Rupert, who, amongst the acts of homage most pleasing to this good Mother, places that of firmly believing all that redounds to her honor ("Ejus magnolia firmiter credere").  If there was nothing else to take away our fear of exceeding in the praises of Mary, St. Augustine (Serm. 208. E. B. app.) should suffice; for he declares that whatever we may say in praise of Mary is little in comparison with that which she deserves, on account of her dignity of Mother of God; and, moreover, the Church says, in the Mass appointed for her festivals, "Thou art happy, O sacred Virgin Mary, and most worthy of all praise" ("Felix namque es, sacra Virgo Maria, et omni laude digaissima; quia ex te ortus est Sol justitiae, Christus Deus noster"—M. Vot. A. NatResp. 7)

            But let us return to the point, and examine what the saints say on the subject.  St. Bernard says "that God has filled Mary with all graces, so that men may receive by her means, as by a channel, every good thing that comes to them."  He says that "she is a full aqueduct, that others may receive of her plentitude" ("Plenus Aquaeductus, ut accipiant caeteri de ejus plenitudine").  On this the saint smakes the following significant remark: "Before the birth of the Blessed Virgin, a constant flow of graces was wanting, because this aqueduct did not exist" ("Ideo tanto tempore humano generi fluenta gratiae defuerunt, quia necdum intercederet is Aquaeductus"—De Aquaed.).  But now that Mary has been given to the world, heavenly graces constantly flow through her on all.    

            The devil, like Holofernes, who, in order to gain possessin of the city of Bethulia, ordered the aqueducts to be destroyed, exerts himself to his utmost to destroy devotion to the Mother of God in souls; for if this channel of grace is closed, he easily gains possession of them.  And here, continues the same St. Bernard, "See, O souls, with what tender devotion our Lord wills that we should honor our Queen, by always having recourse to her protection; and by relying on it; for in Mary he has placed the plenitude of every good, so that henceforward we may know and acknowledge that whatever hope, grace, or other advantage we possess, all comes from the hand of Mary" ("Intuemini quanto devotionis affectu a nobis eam voluerit honorari, qui totius boni plenitudinem posuit in Maria; ut proinde, si quid spei in nobis est, si quid gratiae, si quid salutis, ab eas noverimus redundare"—De Aquaed).  St. Antoninus says the same thing: "All graces that have ever been bestowed on men, all came through Mary" ("Per eam exivit de coelis, quidquid gratiae venit in mundum"—P. 4, tit. 15, c. 20, #12).  And on this account she is called the moon, according to the following remark of St. Bonaventure: "As the moon, which stands between the sun and the earth, transmits to this latter whatever it receives from the former, so does Mary pour out upon us who are in this world the heavenly graces that she receives from the divine sun of justice" ("Quia, sicut luna inter corpora coelestia et terrene est media, et quod ab illis accipit, ad inferiora refundit; sic et Virgo Regia inter nos et Deum est media, et gratiam ipsa nobis refundit"—Spann. Polyanth. Litt. M. t. 6).  

            Again, the holy Church calls her "the happy gate of heaven" ("Felix coeli porta"); for as the same St. Bernard remarks: "As every mandate of grace that is sent by a king passes through the palace-gates, so does every grace that comes from heaven to the world pass through the hands of Mary" ("Nulla gratia venit de coelo ad terram, nisi transeat per manus Mariae"—Apud S. Bernardin, Pro Fest. V. M. s. 5, c. 8).  St. Bonaventure says that Mary is called "the gate of heaven, because no one can enter that blessed kingdom without passing through her" ("Nullus potest coelum intrare, nisi per Mariam transeat, tamquam per portam"—In Luc. i)

            An ancient author, probably St. Sophronius, in a sermon on the Assumption, published with the works of St. Jerome, says "that the plenitutde of grace which is in Jesus Christ came into Mary, though in a different way" ("In Christo fuit plenitude gratiae, sicut in Capite influente; in Maria, sicut in collo transfundente"); meaning that it is our Lord, as in the head, from which the vital spirits (that is, divine help to obtain eternal salvation) flow into us, who are the members of his mystical body; and that the same plenitutde is in Mary, as in the neck, through which these vital spirits pass to the members.  The same idea is confirmed by St. Bernardine of Sienna, who explains it more clearly, saying, "that all graces of the spiritual life that descend from Christ, their head, to the faithful, who are his mystical body, are transmitted through the instrumentality of Mary" ("Per Verginem, a Capite Christo, vitals gratiae in ejus Corpus mysticum transfunduntur").  The The same St. Bernardine endeavors to assign a reason for this when he says, "that as God was pleased to dwell in the womb of this holy Virgin, she acquired, so to speak, a kind of jurisdiction over all graces; for when Jesus Christ issued forth from her most sacred womb, all the streams of divine gifts flowed from her as from a celestial ocean" ("Cum tota natura divina intra Virginis uterum exstiterit, non timeo dicere quod in omnes gratiarum effluxus quamdam jurisdictionem habuerit haec Virgo, de cujus utero, quasi de quodam Divinitatis oceano, flumina emanant omnium gratiarum").  Elsewhere, repeating the same idea in more distinct terms, he asserts that "from the moment that this Virgin Mother conceived the divine Word in her womb, she acquired a special jurisdiction, so to say, over all the gifts of the Holy Ghost, so that no creature has since received any grace from God otherwise than through the hands of Mary" ("A tempore a quo Virgo Mater concepit in utero Verbum Dei, quondam, ut sic dicam, jurisdictionem obtinuit in omni Spiritus Sancti processione temporali; ita quod nulla creatura aliquam a Deo obtinuit gratiam, nisi secundum ipsius piae Matris dispensationem"—Pro Festo V. M. s. 5, c. 8).          

            Another author, in a commentary on a passage of Jeremias, in which the prohet, speaking of the Incarnation of the Eternal Word, and of Mary his Mother, says that a woman shall compass a man (Jer. xxxi. 22), remarks, that "as no line can be drawn from the centre of a circle without passing by the circumference, so no grace proceeds from Jesus, who is the centre of every good thing, without passing by Mary, who compassed him when she received him into her womb" (Crasset, Vιr. Dιv. p. 1, tr. 1, q. 5, #2). 

            St. Bernardine says that for this reason, "all gifts, all virtues, and all graces are dispensed by the hands of Mary to whomsoever, when, and as she pleases" ("Ideo omnia dona, virtutes et gratiae, quibus vult quando vult, quomodo vult, per manus ipsius dispensantur"—Pro Fest. V. M. s. 5, c. 8).  Richard of St. Laurence also asserts "that God wills that whatever good things he bestows on his creatures should pass through the hands of Mary" ("Deus, quidquid boni dat creatures suis, per manus Matris Virginis vult transpire"—De Laud. B. M. l. 2, p. 3).  And therefore the Venerable Abbot of Celles exhorts all to have recourse to "this treasury of graces" (for so he calls her); for the world and the whole human race have to receive every good that can be hoped for through her alone.  "Address yourselves to the Blessed Virgin," he says; "for by her, and in her, and with her, and from her, the world receives, and is to receive, every good" ("Accede ad Virginem, quia per ipsam, mundus habiturus est omne bonum"—Cont. de V. M. in prol).

            It must now be evident to all that when these saints and authors tell us in such terms that all graces come to us through Mary, they do not simply mean to say that we "received Jesus Christ, the source of every good, through Mary," as the before-named writer pretends; but that they assure us that God, who gave us Jesus Christ, wills that all graces that have been, that are, and will be dispensed to men to the end of the world through the merits of Christ, should be dispensed by the hands and through the intercession of Mary.

            And thus Father Suarez concludes, that it is the sentiment of the universal Church, "that the intercession and prayers of Mary are, above those of all others, not only useful, but necessary" ("Senit Ecclesia Virginis intercessionem esse utilem ac necessariam"—D. Inc. p. 2, d. 23, s. 3).  Necessary, in accordance with what we have already said, not with an absolute necessity; for the mediation of Jesus Christ alone is absolutely necessary; but with a moral necessity; for the Church believes with St. Bernard, that God has determined that no grace shall be granted otherwise than by the hands of Mary.  "God wills," says the saint, "that we should have nothing that has not passed through the hands of Mary" ("Nihil nos Deus habere voluit, quod per Mariae manus non transiret"—In Vig. Nat. D. s. 3); and before St. Bernard, St. Ildephonsus asserted the same thing, addressing the Blessed Virgin in the following terms: "O Mary, God has decided on committing all good gifts that he has provided for men to thy hands, and therefore he has intrusted all treasures and riches of grace to thee" ("Omnia bona quae illic summa Majestas decrevit facere, tuis minibus voluit commendare: commissi quipped sunt tibi thesauri . . . . et ornamenta gratiarum"—In Cor. Virg. c. 15).  And therefore St. Peter Damian remarks, "that God would not become man without the consent orf Mary; in the first place, that we might feel ourselves under great obligations to her; and in the second, that we might understand that the salvation of all is left to the care of this Blessed Virgin" (Paciuncch. In Ps. lxxxvi. Exc. 1).

            St. Bonaventure, on the words of the prophet Isaias, And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root, and the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him ("Egredietur Virga de radice Jesse, et Flos de radice ejus ascendet; et requiescat super eum Spiritus Domini"—Is. xi. 1), makes a beautiful remark, saying: "Whoever desires the sevenfold grace of the Holy Spirit, let him seek for the flower of the Holy Ghost in the rod."  That is, for Jesus in Mary; "For by the rod we find the flower, and by the flower, God" ("Quicumque Spiritus Sancti gratiam adipisci desiderat, Florem in Virga quaerat: per Virgam enim ad Florem, per Florem ad Spiritum, pervenimus.—Si hunc Florem habere desideras, Virgam Floris precibus flectas"—Spec. B. M. V. lect. 6.12).  And in the twelfth chapter of the same work, he adds, "If you desire to possess this flower, bend down the rod, which bears the flower, by prayer; and so you will obtain it."  The seraphical Father, in his sermon for the Epiphany, on the words of St. Matthew, They found the child, with Mary his Mother ("Invenerunt puerum cum Maria, Matre ejus"—Matth. Ii. 11), redminds us, that if we wish to find Jesus we must go to Mary ("Si ergo hunc puerum vis invenire, ad Mariam accede").  We may, then, conclude, that in vain shall we seek for Jesus, unless we endeavor to find him with Mary ("Nunquam invenitur Christus, nisi cum Maria, nisi per Mariam.  Frustra igitur quaerit, qui cum Maria invenire non quaerit"—Spann. Polyanth. Litt. M. t. 6).  And so St. Ildephonsus says, "I desire to be the servant of the Son; but because non one will ever be so without serving the Mother, for this reason I desire the servitude of Mary" ("Ut sim servus Filii, servitutem appeto Genitricis"—De Virginit. Mar. c. 12)



A young nobleman who was on a sea-voyage began to read an obscene book, in which he took much pleasure.  A religious noticed this, and said to him: "Are you disposed to make a present to our Blessed Lady?"  The young man replied that he was.  "Well," the other answered, "I wish that, for the love of the most holy Virgin, you would give up that book, and throw it into the sea."  "Here it is, Father," said the young man.  "No," replied the religious, "you must yourself make Mary this present."  He did so; and no sooner had he returned to Genoa, his native place, than the Mother of God so inflamed his heart with divine love that he entered a religious Order (Nadasi, Ann. Mar. S. J. 1606).



O my soul, see what a sure hope of salvation and eternal life our Lord has given thee, by having in his mercy inspired thee with confidence in the patronage of his mother; and this, notwithstanding that so many times by thy sins thou hast merited his displeasure and hell.  Thank thy God, and thank thy protectress Mary, who has condescended to take thee under her mantle; for of this thou mayest be well convinced, after the many graces that thou hast received by her means.  O yes, I do thank thee, my most loving Mother, for all thou hast done for me who am deserving of hell.  And from how many dangers hast thou not delivered me, O Queen!  How many inspirations and mercies hast thou not obtained for me from God!  What service, what honor, have I ever rendered thee, that thou shouldst do so much for me?  I know that it is thy sole goodness that has impelled thee.  Ah, too little would it be in comparison with all that I owe thee, did I shed my blood and give my life for thee; for thou hast delivered me from eternal death; thou hast enabled me, as I hope, to recover divine grace; to thee, in fine, I owe all I have.  My most amiable Lady, I, poor wretch that I am, can make thee no return but that of always loving and praising thee.  Ah, disdain not to accept the tender affection of a poor sinner, who is inflamed with love for thy goodness.  If my heart is unworthy to love thee, because it is impure and filled with earthly affecgions, it is thou who must change it.  Ah, change it, then.  Bind me to my God, and bind me so that I may never more have it in my power to separate myself from his love.  Thou askest of me that I should love thy Godk, and I ask of thee that thou shouldst obtain this love for me, to love him always; this is all that I desire.  Amen.




 The same Subject continued.

St. Bernard says, "that as a man and a woman cooperated in our ruin, so it was proper that another man and another woman should cooperate in our redemption, and these two were Jesus and his Mother Mary."  "There is no doubt," says the saint, "that Jesus Christ alone was more than sufficient to redeem us; but it was more becoming that both sexes should cooperate in the reparation of an evil in causing which both had shared" ("Congruum magis ut adesset nostrae reparationi sexus uterque, quorum corruptioni neuter defuisset"—In Sign. Magn.).  Hence Blessed Albert the Great calls Mary, the "helper of redemption" ("Adjutrix redemptionis"—Super Miss. q. 29, #3); and the Blessed Virgin herself revealed to St. Bridget, that "as Adam and Eve sold the world for an apple, so did she with her Son redeem it as it were with one heart" ("Sicut Adam et Eva vendiderunt mundum pro uno pomo, sic Filius meus et ego redemimus mundum quasi cum uno corde"—Rev. l. 1, c. 35).  This is confirmed by St. Anselm, who says, "that although God could create the worl dout of nothing, yet, when it was lost by sin, he would not repair the evil without the cooperation of Mary" ("Qui potuit omnia de nihilo facere, noluit ea violate sine Maria reficere"—Orat. 51).    

            Suarez says (De Inc. p. 2, d. 23, s. 1), "that Mary cooperated in our salvation in three ways; first, by having merited by a merit of congruity the Incarnation of the Word; secondly, by having continually prayed for us whilst she was living in this world; thirdly, by having willingly sacrificed the life of her Son to God."  For this reason our Lord has justly decreed, that as Mary cooperated in the salvatin of man with so much love, and at the same time gave such glory to God, so all men through her intercession are to obtain their salvation.

            Mary is called "the cooperator in our justiciation," for to her God has instructed all graces intended for us ("Auxiliatrix nostrae justificationis; Deus enim omnes gratias faciendas Mariae commisit"—Marial. p. 3, s. 1); and therefore St. Bernard affirms, "that all men, past, present, and to come, should look upon Mary as the means and negotiator of the salvation of all ages ("Ad illam, sicut ad medium, sicut ad arcam Dei, sicut ad negotium saeculorum respiciunt, et qui praecesserunt, et nos qui summus, et qui sequentur"—In Pent. s. 2).

            Jesus Christ says, that no one can find him unless the Eternal Father first draws him by the means of divine grace: No one comes to me unless my Father draws him ("Nemo potest venire ad me, nisi Pater, qui misit me, traxerit eum"—John, vi. 44).  Thus also does Jesus address his Mother, says Richard of St. Laurence: "No one comes to me unless my Mother first of all draws him by her prayers" ("Nemo potest venire ad me, nisi Mater mea suis precibus traxerit eum"—De Laud. B. M. 1. 12, p. 2).  Jesus was the fruit of Mary, as St. Elizabeth told her: Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb" ("Benedicta tu inter mulieres, et benedictus Fructus ventris tui"—Luke, i. 42).  Whoever, therefore, desires the fruit must go to the tree; whoever desires Jesus must go to Mary; and whoever finds Mary will most certainly find Jesus.

            When St. Elizabeth saw that the most Blessed Virgin had come to visit her in her own house, not knowing how to thank her, and filled with humility, she exclaimed: And whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord should visit me? ("Et unde hoc mihi, ut veniat Mater Domini mei ad me?"—Ibid. 43).  Ah, yes, it was that the saint knew full well that when Mary comes she brings Jesus, and therefore it was sufficient to thank the Mother without naming the Son.

            She is like the merchant's ship, she bringeth her bread from afar ("Facta est quasi navis institoris, de longe portans panem suum"—Prov. xxxi 14).  Mary was this fortunate ship that brought us Jesus Christ from heaven, who is the living bread that comes down from heaven to give us eternal life, as he himself says: I am the living bread, which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever ("Ego sum Panis vivus, qui de coelo descendi; si quis manducaverit ex hoc Pane, vivet in aeternum"—John, vi. 51).  And hence Richard of St. Laurence says, "that in the sea of this world all will be lost who are not protected by Mary;" and therefore he adds, "As often as we see ourselves in danger of perishing in the midst of the temptations and contending passions of this life, let us have recourse to Mary, and cry out quickly, O Lady, help us, save us, if thou wilt not see us perish" ("In mare mundi submergentur omnes illi, quos non suscipit Navis ista.  Ideo, quoties videmus insurgents super nos fluctus ejus maris, clamare debemus ad Mariam: Domina! salva nos, perimus"—De Laud. B. M. l. 11, c. 8).   

            Remark, by the by, that this writer does not scruple to address these words to Mary: "Save us, we perish;" as does a certain author already noticed, and who says, that we cannot ask Mary to save us, as this belongs to God alone.  But since a culprit condemned to death can beg a royal favorite to save him by interceding with the king that his life may be spared, why cannot we ask the Mother of God to save us by obtaining us eternal life?  St. John Damascene scrupled not to address her in these words: "Pure and immaculate Virgin, save me, and deliver me from eternal damnation" ("Regina immaculate et pura!  Salva me, libera me ab aeterna damnatione"—Paracl. In Deip.).  St. Bonaventure called Mary "the salvation of those who invoked her" ("O Salus te invocantium!").  The holy Church approves of the invocation by also calling her the "salvatin of the weak" ("Salus infirmorum").  And shall we scruple to ask her to save us, when "the way of salvation is open to none otherwise than through Mary?" ("Nemini, nisi per eam, patet aditus ad salutem"—Paciucch. In Ps. lxxxvi. exc. 1) as a certain author remarks.  And before him St. Germanus had said the same thing, speaking of Mary: "No one is saved but through thee" ("Nullus est qui salvus fiat, nisi per te"—De Zona Deip.).

            But let us now see what else the saints say of the need in which we are of the intercession of the divine Mother.  The glorious St. Cajetan used to say, that we may seek for graces, but shall never find them without the intercession of Mary.  This is confirmed by St. Antoninus, who thus beautifully expresses himself: "Whoever asks and expects to obtain graces without the intercession of Mary, endeavors to fly without wings" ("Qui petit sine ipsa duce, sine alis tentat volare"—P. 4, tit. 15, c. 22, #9); for, as Pharaoh said to Joseph, the land of Egypt is in thy hands, and addressed all who came to him for food to Joseph, Go to Joseph ("Ite ad Joseph"—Gen. xli. 55), so does God send us to Mary when we seek for grace: "Go to Mary;" for "He has decreed," says St. Bernard, "that he will grant no graces otherwise than by the hands of Mary" ("Totum nos habere voluit per Mariam"—De Aquaed).  "And thus," says Richard of St. Laurence, "our salvation is in the hands of Mary; so that we Christians may with much greater reason say of her than the Egyptians of Joseph, Our salvation is in thy hands" ("Salus nostra in manu Mariae est; ut ei dicere muito melius valeamus nos Christiani, quam dixerint AEgyptii Joseph: Salus nostra in manus tua est"—(Gen. xlvii.25)—De Laud. B. M. l. 2, c. 1).  The Venerable Raymond Jordano repeats the same thing: "Our salvation is in her hands" ("Salus nostra in manu illius est"—Cont. de V. in prol.).  Cassian speaks in still stronger terms.  He says absolutely, "that the salvation of all depends on their being favored and protected by Mary" ("Tota salus humani generic consistit in multitudine gratiae Mariae et favoris"—Pelbart, Stell. l. 12, p. 1, a. 3).  He who is protected by Mary will be saved; he who is not will be lost.  St. Bernardine of Sienna thus addresses this Blessed Virgin: "O Lady, since thou art the dispenser of all graces, and since the grace of salvation can only come through thy hands, our salvation depends on thee" ("Tu Dispensatrix omnium gratiarum"—Pro Fest. V. M. s. 13, a. 2, c. 3)

            Therefore, Richard of St. Laurence had good reason for saying, that "as we should fall into the abyss, if the ground were withdrawn from under our feet, so does a soul deprived of the succor of Mary first fall into sin, and then into hell" ("Sic, subtracto nobis adjutorio Mariae, statim labimur in peccatum, et inde in infernum"—De Laud. B. M. l. 8).  St. Bonaventure says, that "God will not save us without the intercession of Mary" ("Ipse, sine ea, non salvabit te").  And that "as a child cannot live without a nurse to suckle it, so no one can be saved without the protection of Mary" ("Quemadmodum infans, sine nutrice, non potest vivere; ita nec sine Domina nostra, potes habere salutem").  Therefore he exhorts us "to thirst after devotion to her, to preserve it with care, and never to abandon it until we have received her maternal blessing in heaven" ("Sitiat ergo anima tua ad ipsam; tene eam, nec dimitte, donec benedixerit tibi"—Cont. in Psalt).  "And whoever," exclaims St. Germanus, "could know God, were it not for thee, O most holy Mary? who could be saved? who would be preserved from dangers? who could receive any grace, were it not for thee, O Mother of God, O full of grace?"

            The following are the beautiful words in which he expresses himself: "There is no one, O most holy Mary, who can know God but through thee; no one who can be saved or redeemed but through thee, O Mother of God; no one who can be delivered from dangers but through thee, O Virgin Mother; no one who obtains mercy but through thee, O filled with all grace."  And iin another place, addressing her, he says, "No one would be free from the effects of the concupiscence of the flesh and from sin, unless thou didst open the way to him" ("Nemo est, O Sanctissima, qui ad Dei notitiam venit, nisi per te, Nome qui salvus fiat, nisi per te, Dei Parens!  Nemo liber a periculis, nisi per te, Virgo Mater!  Emo donum Dei suscipit, nisi per te, gratia Plena.  Nisi enim tu iter aperires, nemo spiritualis evaderet"—In Dorm. V. M. s. 2)

            And as we have access to the Eternal Father, says St. Bernard, only through Jesus Christ, so have we access to Jesus Christ only through Mary: "By thee wehave access to the Son, O blessed finder of grace, bearer of life, and mother of salvation, that we may receive him by thee, who through thee was given to us" ("Per te accessum habemus ad filium, O Inventrix gratiae, Mater salukis! Ut per te nos suscipiat, qui per te datus est nobis"—De Adv. Dom. s. 2).  This is the reason given by the saint why our Lord has determined that all shall be saved by the intercession of Mary; and therefore he calls her the Mother of grace and of our salvation.

            "Then," asks St. Germanus, "what will become of us? What hope can we have of salvation, if thou dost abandon us, O Mary, who art the life of Christians?" ("Si tu nos deserueris, quid erit de nobis, O Vita Christianorum?—De Zona Deip.).

            "But," says the modern author already quoted, "if all graces come through Mary, when we implore the intercession of other saints, they must have recourse to the mediation of Mary.  But that," he says, "no one believes or ever dreamed."

            As to believing it, I reply that in that there can be no error or difficulty.  What difficulty can there be in saying that God, in order to honor his Mother, and having made her Queen of saints, and willing that all graces shall be dispensed by her hands, should also will that the saints should address themselves to her to obtain favors for their clients?

            And as to saying that no one ever dreamed of such a thing, I find that St. Bernard, St. Anselm, St. Bonaventure, Suarez, and others, expressly declare it to be the case.  "In vain," says St. Bernard, "would a person ask other saints for a favor, if Mary did not interpose to obtain it" ("Frustra alios Sanctos oraret, quem ista non adjuvaret").  Some other author, explaining the words of the Psalm, All the rich among the people shall entreat thy countenance" ("Vultum tuum deprecabuntur omnes divites plebes"—Ps. xliv. 13), says, "that the saints are the rich of that great people of God, who, when they wish to obtain a favor from God for their clients, recommend themselves to Mary, and she immediately obtains it."  And Father Suarez correctly remarks, "that we beg the saints to be our intercessors with Mary, because she is their Queen and sovereign Lady."  "Amongst the saints," he says, "we do not make use of one to intercede with the other, as all are of the same order; but we do ask them to intercede with Mary, because she is their sovereign and Queen" ("Inter alios Sanctos non utimur uno ut intercessore ad alium, quia omnes sunt ejusdem ordinis; ad Virginem autem, tanquam ad Reginam et Dominam, alii adhibentur intercessors"—De Inc. p. 2, d. 23, s. 3).  And this is precisely what St. Benedict promised to St. Frances of Rome, as we read in Father Marchese; for he appeared to her, and taking her under his protection, he promised that he would be her advocate with the divine Mother.

            In confirmation of this, St. Anselm addresses our Blessed Lady and says, "O Lady, whatever all the saints, united with thee, can obtain, thou canst obtain alone."  "And why is this?" asks the saint; "why is it that thou alone hast such great power?  Ah, it is because thou art the spouse of God; thou art the universal Queen of heaven and earth.  If thou dost not speak for us, no saint will pray for or help us.  But if thou beginnest to pray for us, then will all the saints do the same and succor us" ("Quod possunt omnes isti tecum, tu sola potes sine illis omnibus.  Quare hoc potes?  Quia Mater es Salvatoris nostril, Sponsa Dei, Regina coeli et terrae.  Te tacente, nullus orabit, nullus juvabit.  Te orante, omnes orabunt, omnes juvabunt"—Orat. 45).

            So that Father Segneri (Div. di. M. p. 1, c. 7, #4),  in his Devout Client of Mary, applying with the Catholic Church the words of Ecclesiasticus to her, I alone have compassed the circuit of heaven ("Gyrum coeli circuivi sola"—Ecclus. xxiv. 8), says, that "as the first sphere by its motion sets all the others in motion, so it is when Mary prays for a soul; immediately the whole heavenly court begins to pray with her."  "Nay, more," says St. Bonaventure, "whenever the most sacred Virgin goes to God to intercede for us, she, as Queen, commands all the angels and saints to accompany her, and unite their prayers to hers" ("Quando Sanctissima Virgo procedit ad Deum pro nobis deprecandum, imperat Angelis et Sanctis, ut eam comitentur, ut simul cum ipsa Altissimum pro nobis exorent"—Paciucch. Super Sal. Ang. exc. 19).      

            And thus, finally, do we understand why the holy Church requires that we should salute and invoke the divine Mother under the glorious title of "our hope" ("Spes nostra! salve!").  The impious Luther said, "that he could not endure that the Roman Church should call Mary, who is only a creature, "our hope" ("Ferre nequeo ut Maria dicatur Spes et Vita nostra"); "for," said he, "God alone, and Jesus Christ as our Mediator, is our hope: and God curses those who place their hope in a creature, according to the prophet Jeremias, Cursed be the man that trusteth in man" ("Maledictus homo qui confidit in homine"—Jer. xvii. 5).  But the Church teaches us to invoke Mary on all occasions, and to call her "our hope; hail, our hope!"  Whoever places his confidence in a creature independently of God, he certainly is cursed by God; for God is the only source and dispenser of every good, and the creature without God is nothing, and can give nothing.  But if our Lord has so disposed it, as we have already proved that he has done, that all graces should pass through Mary as by a channel of mercy, we not only can but ought to assert that she, by whose means we receive the divine graces, is truly our hope.

            Therefore St. Bernard says, "that she is his greatest confidence, and the whole foundation of his hope" ("Filioli, haec mea maxima Fiducia est, haec tota ratio spei meae"—De Aquaed.).  St. John Damascene says the same thing; for he thus addresses the most Blessed Virgin: "O Lady, in thee have I placed all my hope; and with my eyes fixed on thee, from thee do I expect salvation ("In te spem meam collocavi ex animo, et intentis oculis abs te pendeo"—Paracl. In Deip.).  St. Thomas says, that "Mary is the whole hope of our salvation" ("Omnis Spes vitae"—Exp. In Sal. Ang.), and St. Ephrem, addressing her, says, "O most holy Virgin, receive us under thy protection, if thou wilt see us saved, for we have no hope of salvation but through thy means" ("Nobis non est alia quam in te fiducia. O Virgo sincerissima!  Sub alis tuae pietatis protιgι et custody nos"—De Laud. Dei gen.).

            Let us, then, in the words of St. Bernard, "endeavor to venerate this divine Mother with the whole affection of our hearts; for such is the will of God, who is pleased that we should receive every gift from her hand" ("Totis medullis cordium Mariam hanc veneremur; quia sic est voluntas ejus, qui totum nos habere voluit per Mariam"—De Aquaed.).  And therefore the saint exhorts us, whenever we desire or ask for any grace, to recommend ourselves to Mary, and to be assured that we shall receive it by her means ("Quaeramus gratiam, et per Mariam quaeramus"); for he says, if thou dost not deserve the favor from God, Mary, who will ask it for thee, will deserve to receive it; "because thou wast unworthy of the gift, it was bestowed on Mary, that through her thou mightest receive all that thou hast" ("Quia indignus eras cui donaretur, datum est Mariae, ut per illam acciperes quidquid haberes"—In Viq. Nat. D. s. 3).  The saint then advises us to recommend all that we offer to God to the care of Mary, be they good works or prayers, if we wish our Lord to accept them.  "Whatever thou mayest offer to God, be sure to recommend it to Mary, in order not to meet with a repulse" ("Quidquid Deo offerre paras, Mariae commendare memento, si non vis sustinere repulsam"—De Aquaed.).    


The doctrine of Mary's dignity as mediatrix of all graces is commonly accepted by theologians today, and recent pontiffs have occasionally alluded to it.  We know that Benedict XIV has left these words on record:  "Mary is like a celestial river by which the waters of all graces and gifts are conveyed to poor mortals."  Pius IX in speaking to the bishops of the whole world made use of the words of St. Bernard:  "God wills that every grace should come to us through her."  In his encyclical on the devotion of the Rosary, Sept. 22, 1891, Pope Leo XIII says: "In a true and natural sense may we say that from the great treasury of graces that the Lord has merited for us, nothing came to us, by the will of God except through Mary."  Pius X declares:  "She is the dispensatrix of the graces that Jesus Christ has merited for us by His blood and His death."  The following are the words of Benedict XV:  "It has pleased God to grant us all graces through the intercession of Mary."  Again:  "All the graces which the Giver of all good deigns to grant to the descendants of Adam, are dispensed to us, in the disposition of a loving Providence, through the hands of the Blessed Virgin."  And finally:  "The graces of all kinds that we receive from the treasury of the Redemption are dispensed by the hands of the Sorrowful Virgin."

            It is worthy of note that the last four popes have directed special attention to this teaching on the Blessed Virgin Mary.  They refer to it repeatedly, and thus place the seal of approval on the authority of those of former times who held the doctrine and particularly of St. Alphonsus.  On the strength of these testimonies one can unhesitatingly subscribe to the judgment of the Apologist Bainvel, S.J.:  "The twofold cooperation of Mary in the work of the redemption, first on earth by her life, prayer and suffering, and then in heaven by her prayer alone is sound Catholic doctrine, beyond all dispute and worthy of being defined, i.e. of being raised to the dignity of an article of faith" (Dict. Apolog. D'Hales III. col. 301).

            Father Jansen, C.SS.R. says that what the supreme teacher of the Church proclaims so loudly, deserves to be made known not merely to the students of theology in class rooms, but in pulpit and press to the faithful of the whole world (Nederl. Katho. Stemmen 18 (1918) 273).      



The history of Theophilus, written by Eutychian, patriarch of Constinople, and who was an eye-witness of the fact he relates, is well known.  It is attested by St. Peter Damian, St. Bernard, St. Bonaventure, St. Antonine, and by others quoted by Father Crasset (Vιr. Dιv. p. 1, tr. 1, q. 10).

            Theophilus was archdeacon of the church of Adana, a city of Cilicia, and he was held in such veneration by the people that they wished to have him for their bishop, but he, out of humility, refused the dignity.  It happened that evil-disposed persons accused him falsely of some crime, and for this he was deposed from his archdeaconry.  He took this so much to heart, that, blinded by passion, he went to a Jewish magician, who made him consult Satan, that he might help him in his misfortune.  The devil told him that if he desired to be helped by him, he must renounce Jesus and His Mother Mary, and consign him the act of renunciation written in his own hand.  Theophilus immediately complied with the demand.  The next day, the bishop having discovered that he had deceived, asked the archdeacon's pardon, and restored him to office.  No sooner was this accomplished than his conscience was torn with remorse, and he could do nothing but weep.  What could he do?  He went to a church, and there casting himself all in tears at the feet of an image of Mary, he thus addressed her: "O Mother of God, I will not despair as long as I can have access to thee, who art so compassionate, and has the power to help me."  He remained thus weeping and praying to our Blessed Lady for forty days—when, lo, one night the Mother of mercy appeared to him, and said: "O Theophilus, what hast thou done?  Thou hast renounced my friendship and that of my Son, and for whom?  For his and my enemy."  "O Lady," answered Theophilus, "thou must pardon me, and obtain my forgiveness from they Son."  Mary seeing his confidence, replied: "Be of good heart; I will intercede for thee with God."  Theophilus, encouraged by these consoling words, redoubled his tears, mortifications, and prayers, and never left the image.  At last Mary again appeared to him, and with a cheerful countenance said: "Theophilus, be of good heart; I have presented thy tears and prayers to God; he has accepted them, and has already pardoned thee; but from this day forward be grateful to him and faithful."  "But, O Lady," replied Theophilus, "that is not yet enough to satisfy me entirely; the enemy still possesses that impious writing in which I renounced thee and thy Son.  Thou canst oblige him to surrender it."  Three days afterwards, Theophilus awoke in the night, and found the writing on his breast.  On the following day he went to the church where the bishop was, and, in present of an immense concourse of people, cast himself at his feet, and with bitter tears related all that had taken place, and delivered into his hands the infamous writing.  The bishop committed it to the flames in the presence of all the people, who did nothing but weep for joy, and praise the goodness of God, and the mercy of Mary shown towards this poor sinner.  But he, returning to the church of our Blessed Lady, remained there three days, and then expired, his heart filled with joy, and returning thanks to Jesus and to his most holy Mother* (*The Church has enrolled this celebrated penitent among the number of the saints.  His life may be read in the Bollandists, in Surius, as well as in Giry, February 4—Ed.)



O Queen and Mother of mercy, who dispensest graces to all who have recourse to thee with so much liberality, because thou art a Queen, and with so much love, because thou art our most loving Mother; to thee do I, who am so devoid of merit and virtue, and so loaded with debts to the divine justice, recommend myself this day.  O Mary, thou holdest the keys of all the divine mercies; forget not my miseries, and leave me not in my poverty.  Thou art so liberal with all, and givest more than thou art asked for, O, be thus liberal with me.  O Lady, protect me; this is all that I ask of thee.  If thou protectest me, I fear nothing.  I fear not the evil spirits; for thou art more powerful than all of them.  I fear not my sins; for thou by one word canst obtain their full pardon from God.  And if I have thy favor, I do not even fear an angry God; for a single prayer of thine will appease him.  In fine, if thou protectest me, I hope all; for thou art all-powerful.  O Mother of mercy, I know that thou takest pleasure and dost glory in helping the most miserable, and, provided they are not obstinate, that thou canst help them.  I am a sinner, but am not obstinate; I desire to change my life.  Thou canst, then, help me; O, help me and save me.  I now palce myself entirely in thy hands.  Tell me what I msut do in order to please God, and I am ready for all, and hope to do all with thy help, O Mary—Mary my Mother, my light, my consolations, my refuge, my hope.  Amen, amen. Amen.







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