Prepared By: Bro. Joseph Raphael OFM Cap


WordpressGod’s redemptive love of self-gift in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and humanity’s response to this unconditional love is the core of salvation history. In this redemptive work, human persons at different historical stages have responded either creatively by their life and mission or destructively by their selfishness and pride. Jesus Christ, being the God-Man, is the perfect response to God’s love-gift. Blessed Mary, being the Mother of God and Mother of humanity has, of course, played a unique role in salvation history. To highlight her unique cooperation in redemptive history, the title “Mary as Co-redemptrix” has been used in Christian theology for many years. Co-Redemptrix is an almost entirely <a title=”Roman Catholic” href=””>Roman Catholic title of Mary, the mother of Jesus and theological concept, which refers to Mary’s role in the redemption of man. It has always been controversial and has never formed part of the dogma of the Church. The term “Co-redemptrix” refers to a subordinate but essential participation by the Blessed Virgin Mary in redemption, notably that she gave free consent to give life to the Redeemer, to share his life, to suffer with him under the cross, to offer his sacrifice to God the Father for the sake of the redemption of humankind. The concept was especially commonly held in the late Middle Ages, when it was especially promoted by many in the Franciscan Order, and often resisted by the Dominicans.

This paper entitled Mary the Co-redemptrix of Humankind points to Mary participation in the life of believers and the Church. God had been thinking of Mary from the very beginning. In order to prove this we go back to testimonies and prophecies that are found in the Scriptures. In their quest for the person of Mary scholars have tried to establish a certain kind of relation between Mary and some of the Old Testament figures which earned her titles such as Daughter of Zion, Ark of the Covenant etc. In the New Testament she becomes the Virgin Mother of God and she is always present with Christ and the Apostles.

The title of the study, ‘Mary the Co-redemptrix of the Humankind’ points to the role of Mary in our life in our redemption. This paper is thematically presented in three chapters. The first chapter deals with Mary as found in Scripture and in the writings of Fathers of the Church and other great theologians. The second chapter mainly deals with Mary’s functions and privileges and her role in our life. The third Chapter deals with Mary’s co-operation in the work of Redemption.

The methodology followed in this study is scriptural and theological. This study is scriptural because the very subject matter has its origin and foundation in Scripture. It is theological precisely because it bases itself on the doctrinal and magisterial teachings of the Church.




In this chapter, we shall see Mary in the Old and the New Testaments. Biblical data on the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is naturally found primarily in the NT. But also certain passages of the OT as interpreted by inspired writers in the NT concern her. The first and second part of this chapter will deal with the pre-figurations and prophesies of Mary in the Old Testament while the third part will deal with her place in the New Testament and the last section deals with writings of Fathers of Church and other great theologians.


The Blessed Virgin Mary has an ancestry that dates back to the very beginning of time or even to eternity. Before anything was created She was in the mind of God as an object of His fondness.

1.1. Beginning of the life of Blessed Virgin Mary      

All created things count their existence in a certain period of time and end at another time. But there is creature, a solitary creature that trace its existence to the very beginning of time, before anything was created, and that is the mother of the divine Redeemer, Mary. The beginning of the life of Mary dates back to eternity. She does not merely begin with her Birth, nor even with the Beginning of the world, but goes back to the very heart of God’s eternal desires.[1] The Church, for centuries has applied to her the Words of Holy Scripture of Eternal Wisdom, “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His ways, before made anything in the beginning. I was set up from eternity and of old before the earth was made. The depths were not yet as I was already conceived…”[2] (Proverb 8:22-23).

1.2. Meaning of Predestination of Mary

The Predestination of Mary means the eternal decree of God ordaining Mary to the order of divine Maternity. It is true that everything is so preordained by god from all eternity, but it is not in this sense that we understand the predestination of Mary. It has an unconditional and irrevocable character since it has been included in the very decree of the incarnation of the second person of the Holy Trinity.[3] Mary’s is a unique and glorious predestination. It was an absolutely gratuitous predestination for no created being could claim as a right. St. Bernard says, “She was not chosen merely at the hour of incarnation; She was predestined from all time by the Most high and was prepared by Him to be one day His mother.”[4] The plan of god would hardly be affected if any other creature is dropped out of it. But such is not in the case of Mary, she is essential in the plan of God. Besides, Mary is destined to be not only the real mother of the physical Christ, but also the spiritual mother of the Mystical Body of Christ.[5]

1.3. Our Lady and our Predestination    

From all eternity, God thought of us. He loved us, he chose and called us. In His love, “He predestined us unto the adoption of children through Jesus Christ” (Eph 1:5, 6). “Whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be made comfortable to the image of His Son” (Rom 8:29). That is our vocation to grow like Jesus. The eternal act which predestined Jesus to be our Savoir and model predestined Mary to be intimately united with him in the whole mystery of redemption, and consequently to be along with Him, the exemplar of our life. She is predestined not merely to share in grace and glory, but in bringing about the whole order of grace and glory. God pleased to associate a Co-redemptress with the redeemer and Mary by her consent cooperates with Christ in our salvation.[6] She was called closest association with Jesus, by perfect conformity of her will with His, in His redemptive work.[7]

1.4. The Predestination of Mary as Co-Redemptrix

If Christ not suffered, He would appear as a ‘distributor’ rather than as a ‘giver’ of graces. The divine bounties would pass through his hands, but would not have acquitted them, even though he could have. The source of His merits would be all his actions, especially his suffering is death. The Almighty decreed that Christ would merit by his whole life, especially by His suffering and death, all the graces He would have to distribute.

God’s designs with regard to Christ were inspired by that goodness which, in some sort, constitutes the very depths of the Divine nature. Since the future Christ would be God, it was fitting that God, with all those to whom all the due proportion, include the same decree first the Blessed Virgin, then all those to whom Christ and His Mother would be called upon to do good. God therefore decreed that the blessed Virgin would be his associate in the work of salvation, and would merit with Christ and dependently on Him, the graces to be distributed to angels and men.[8]


Mary occupies a preeminent place in the fulfillment of the divine plan. Church uses the texts of the OT to speak about Mary was predicted and prefigured there by inspired authors in such a way that her life and actions began before her actual appearance on the historical scene.

“I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall crush thy head and thou shall lie in wait for his heel” (Gen. 3: 15). According to tradition, perhaps this is the first mention in the Bible of Christ and His Mother, the woman and her seed. Exegetes interpreted this passage as referring to Mary because Eve by her disobedience brought sin into the world and so ‘the woman’ cannot be Eve; it must be Mary, the Second Eve; who through her obedience repaired the damage done by the first. This passage has a prominent place in the discussions about the Immaculate Conception as well as in the interpretation of the ‘woman’ of Apocalypse 12. A large number of catholic theologians hold on to the view that the ‘woman’ in this passage could be referring to Mary and ‘seed’ to the Messiah.[9]

The second indication regarding the Mother of Jesus we can find in Is. 7: 14. “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and she shall call his name Emanuel.” Some theologians consider the virgin in this passage as referring to Mary, while others consider it very uncertain. In any case it is very difficult to explain this passage. But the whole context of this passage is pointing to an extraordinary event, a sign. According to Coppens[10] the text is a prophecy of the Messiah and his mother. The whole prophecy gains a particular importance from the fact that it is quoted in St. Mathew (1: 23) as foretelling the birth of Christ. Micah 5: 2 “She who will bear” is an echo of the prophecy of Is. 7: 15.[11]

Jeremiah 31: 22 “a woman shall encompass a man.” This was considered as a Marian text by St. Jerome but this view is generally rejected today. There are many other Old Testament references especially in the Wisdom books and the Song of Solomon, which have been applied to Mary throughout the centuries, both in the liturgy and by individual authors. Unlike the Isaiah passage they refer to her only indirectly. The above references and Old Testament Types of her such as the Ark of the Covenant, Judith, Ester etc., played an important part in the thought of the Fathers and later theologians.

One of the first and loveliest, images of Mary comes from the Prophet Elijah. When the prophet was praying for rain a little cloud appeared over the sea (1Kings 18:44). This little cloud over the sea draws a type and symbol of her who was to be the mother of Grace, who would by her God bearing drench the world with grace.

Prophet Zephaniah speaks of the true ‘daughter of Zion’ (Zeph 3:14) personifying the nation Israel. Here Israel is seen as an image of Mary, the Daughter of Zion par excellence, who will receive into her womb the Son of God when he comes into the midst of his people to free them from sin. “The fleece of Gideon, drenched with dew while the rest of the ground remained dry is seen as an image of Mary, into whose hands God placed the redemption of the world by making her the Mother of the Saviour.”[12]

Prophet Micah speaks of a ‘remnant’ (Mic 5:7) of faithful Israelites and foretells the Messianic era. This group is called anawim. Mary is seen as the perfection of the anawim. The birth of the Messiah will mark the liberation of God’s people, and the liberation is associated with the one who will bear him. This prophecy is also mentioned in the Gospel of St. Mathew. The various figures of Mary that we find in the Bible followed the call of God faithfully.[13]

The New Testament preference for utilizing the woman images of the Old Testament to present its conception of the Mother of Jesus is the most striking aspect of its theological reflection upon her person and role. It is only through a deeper understanding of the new Testaments prophetic use of the Old Testament imagery that a more exact appreciation of the Bible’s view of Mary’s place and function in the divine plan of Salvation is attainable.

3. Mary in the NEW TESTAMENT

          The centre of the New Testament is the Good News of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. When the Gospels speak about Mary, the Mother of Jesus, she is brought in always in reference to Jesus. It speaks her special vocation and her relationship with Jesus.

3.1. Mary in Gospels

The mother of Jesus appears in all four Gospels, and as a group these writings constitute the Major witness to Mary in NT.  The synoptics were mainly concerned with tracing Christ’s lineage as the Son of Man and, therefore, as Son of Mary.  In the Synoptic Gospels the mother of Jesus makes few appearances during Jesus’ public life. One significant incident is recounted by all the Synoptics. When the family of Jesus come searching for him, Jesus comments to the disciples that his true family is constituted by “those who hear the word of God and act on it” (Mk 3:20-35; Mt 12:46-50; Lk 8:19-21). Each of the Synoptic texts, however, interprets this incident somewhat differently. Mark implies a contrast between the physical family and the eschatological family. Matthew weakens this interpretation somewhat, while Luke’s Gospel makes Mary and the brothers’ positive examples of disciples who hear and act on the word of God.

3.1.1. The Markan view of Mary

The earliest reference to Mary in the Gospels is found in Mark in which she is mentioned in two occasions. Though Mark speaks the least about Mary he however makes it clear that right relationship with Jesus is to do the will of the Father. Mary is involved in the mission of Jesus and is challenged to do the will of the God and to continue growing in faith.[14]

In Mk 3:31-35 Mary is explicitly mentioned with the brothers of Jesus when He is teaching the crowd.[15] The crowd those who listen to Him, who do the will of the Father, are considered by Jesus as his true eschatological family. The eschatological family replaces the His physical family.[16] Mk 6:1-6 could be an effort on Mark’s part to show that Jesus is human, carpenter, born of a human, carpenter, born of a woman. No mention of Joseph is made and so it could be taken as an implicit reference to the Markan understanding of the virginal conception of Jesus.[17]

3.1.2. The Matthean view of Mary

Matthean view on Mary can be discovered in the first two chapters of Gospel that pertain to Jesus conception, birth and infancy. In 1:16 he writes “Mary of whom was begotten Jesus” instead of saying “Joseph begot by Jesus”. Here Mathew is calling our attention to Mary who became an instrument of God’s providence in the messianic plan by conceiving Jesus in an irregular way.

In the infancy narrative 1:18-25, Mathew tells us Mary’s pregnancy was through the Holy Spirit. When Joseph suspected her, an angel clarified the mystery of pregnancy. The evangelist shows us Jesus to be the true son of David through Joseph and son of God through the Virginal Conception of Mary. He shows Mary’s role in God’s plan of saving his people: she was even foreseen from the time of Isaiah as the virgin who conceive and give birth to the Emmanuel. [18]

3.1.3. The Lucan view of Mary

Among the Evangelists it is Luke who writes in a detailed manner about the mother of Jesus. The name Mary is mentioned twelve times in Luke and she is referred as the “mother of Jesus” in seven times.[19] The Lucan view on Mary is clearly shown in the infancy narrative; Lk 1-2. Here the evangelists points out the important role of Mary in the annunciation, the visitation, the birth at Bethlehem, the presentation in the Temple and finding of Jesus in the temple. [20]

Luke, utilizing 88 verses to describe the story of Mary records her perplexity, reflection, consent, faith and thanksgiving. She treasured many things in her heart as she had lively relationship with God (1:26-56). Mary is not limited to being the Mother of Jesus but accepts him as her own Messiah. Mary is the perfect example of awaiting the messiah with pure and humble spirit. [21]

3.1.4. The Johannine View of Mary

The fourth Gospel offers a highly developed theology of Mary. Though gospel is predominantly Christocentric it presents Mary in a unique manner which is essentially theological and symbolic. The name of Mary is mentioned nowhere in the Gospel; for John she is simply Mother of Jesus. The author presents Mary as one who is essentially associated with the salvific work of Jesus recalling her presence at the two significant moments in the life of Jesus; the beginning and the end of his public ministry.

The author takes a great care to stress the fact that the miracle of Cana (Jn 2:11) marked the beginning of the ministry. It is she who raises the issue of the wine and because of her special intervention that Jesus works his first miracle at Cana. By making the mother of the beloved disciple, Jesus declares Mary the mother of church. She becomes the mother of all the believers who share in the sonship of Jesus Christ. She is the living personification of the heavenly Jerusalem which is the archetype of Christ. [22]

3.2. Pauline Corpus

Paul’s reference to Mary is very little.  Yet, his reference of her  in Galatians summarize the whole evangelical teaching: “when the appointed time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born a subject of the Law, to redeem the subjects of the Law and to enable us to be adopted as sons” (Gal. 4:4-5). The Son of God is the Son of Mary.  He came into the world as Mary’s child that we might partake of his divinity as divine sons by adoption. [23]

3.3. The Book of Revelation

There is no specific mention of Mary in Revelation. In 12:1-17, however, there is a highly symbolic portrait of a woman who gives birth to a child “who is to rule over all the nations with a rod of iron”-a description taken from Psalm 2:9, which indicates that the child is the Davidic Messiah. In later Mariology this woman was identified as Mary; at the same time according to Brown the description complicates any identification of Mary. [24]


  • Irenaeus of Lyons (ca. A.D. 140-202) was the first of the great theologians of Christendom. He represents the tradition of both East and West. He launches out into a magnificent confrontation of Eve with Mary. He states,

“Eve’s disobedience made for herself and the whole human race the cause of death, Mary by her obedience became the cause of salvation both for herself and the whole human race. Thus the human race fell into bondage to death through a virgin so is rescued by a virgin. The consequence of her obedience, she takes even more active part in the great work of redemption, she becomes the pure womb which regenerates men into God.”[25]

  • Tertullian (ca. A.D. 155-240), one of the most original thinkers of ante-Nicene period states: “For it was while Eve was still a virgin that the word of the devil crept in to erect an edifice of death. Likewise, through a virgin, the Word of God was introduced to set up a structure of life. Thus, what had been laid waste in ruin by this sex was by the same sex re-established in salvation.”[26]
  • Ephraem (ca. A.D. 306-73), called the ‘lyre of the Holy Spirit’ is the great classic author of the Syrian Church. He says,

“As Eve is most intimately connected with the fall and consequent disastrous development of humankind, so Mary is closely associated with the Redemption. The Mother of Christ is the mother of new life, as Eve mother of old life. The association of mother with her Son in his redemptive work becomes more evident in Ephraem’s treatment of Mary’s share in the Eucharist, because for him the Eucharist body of Christ is identical with human body taken from Mary.” [27]

  • Ambrose (339-97), one of the three great Latin fathers, placed Mariology firmly within the Christological context. He consider Mary as the first of the redeemed and counterpart of Eve. According to him Mary brought us redemption by giving birth to Christ. Mary has worked the salvation of the world and conceived the redemption to all.[28]
  • St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430), one of the greatest of the Fathers and one of the great genius of humanity whose influence on posterity has been continuous and profound states,

“ Our lord Jesus Christ, ho ever who came to liberate humankind, in which both males and females are destined to salvation, was not averse to males, for he took the form of a male, nor to females, for a female he was born. Besides there is a great mystery here: that just death comes to us through a woman, life is born to us through a woman; that the devil defeated, would be tormented by each nature, feminine an masculine, since he had taken delight in the defection of both.”[29]

  • Jacob of Sarug (451-521) was one of the Syrian Post- Ephesian Fathers. According to him Mary is intimately connected with the redemption, in which she has a share because she is the Mother of saviour, she is the link between heaven and earth; she is almost a cosmic figure, a representative of all creation.[30]
  • John the Geometer (d. 990), is the most important exponent of Byzantine Mariology in the tenth century.  He sees the Theotokos not only as queen of all creation, but also as co-redemptress, most intimately associated with the work of her Son. In one of his work he gives thanks to Christ saying, “that you have not given yourself as the ransom for us, but, after yourself have given also your mother as a ransom at every moment, so that you indeed have died for us once, but she died a million times in her will cauterized in her heart, just like the Father, has given her own Son and knew Him to be delivered unto death.”[31]
  • Anselm of Canterbury (1109) who is generally regarded as the father of scholasticism calls her the “reconciler (reconciliatrix) of the world”; her merits are not only useful but necessary for us. She is the gateway of life and the door of salvation, the way of reconciliation whose power extends to Hades as well as to heaven.[32]
  • St. Bernard (12thcentury) in his teaching in the Sermon on the Twelve stars says, “it is not good for man to be alone, are also relevant in the context of the redemption: It is more fitting that since both sexes involved in our corruption, so both should also be present at our reparation.”[33]
  • St. Bonaventure (1274) the Franciscan doctor explains, “Eve expels us from paradise and sells (in to sin), Mary brings us back and buys us. Mary does by her acceptance of the cross of Christ but it is passive contribution to redemption.”[34]
  • St. Bridget (14th century), a member of third order of St. Francis affirms unequivocally Mary’s share in the objective redemption of humankind, once speaking in the person of Christ-“And therefore I can well say that my mother and I have saved man as it were with one heart, I by suffering in my heart and flesh, she is sorrow and love of her heart.”[35] She is even called saviour (salvatrix).
  • John Gerson (1420), a mystical theologian in his treatise on the Magnificat says, “In her all the beauties of creation are concentrated. He sees her in relation to the redemption. Her part in our salvation rests on the fact that she, who was most beloved by Christ without doubt conformed herself to His will.”[36]
  • Dionysius the Carthusian (1471) strongly affirms Mary’s position as Mediatress between her Son and men; indeed he does not hesitate to call her “Redemptress of the World” though with some safe guards. He concludes,

“Mary is considered the saviouress of the world because co-operated with Christ. She could be called salvatrix even though she was not herself the cause of salvation or of grace, but because of her help, for through her prayer she obtains for us grace and felicity and many despairing men have been redeemed by her, since her compassion under the cross renders her Son more willing to help us than he would otherwise have been.”[37]


It is true that Sacred Scriptures contains no clear and explicit statement to the effect that our Lady was destined to fulfil a co-redemptive mission on behalf of the human Race. However, Catholic theologians agree that this mission is implied in the written word of God. Even though she is not mentioned often in the Bible she has a very prominent place in the Bible. In the N.T. her presence is one of initiating accompanying and fulfilling God’s will. Through the Scriptures we recall what Mary once was in her earthly association with Jesus; but we also long to know what she means to us now and why we pray to her. The Church Fathers too hold the same general idea that Our Lady assisted in the Redemptive work of Jesus.




            “Behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed; because he who is mighty has done great things for me” (Lk1:48a). In the Gospel itself we find only two of ‘these great things’ clearly stated: her miraculous virginity and her Divine maternity. At present the faith and love of the Church attribute to her a great number of other privileges. The prerogatives that are Mary’s can be divided into two groups.  The first are preliminary functions and the second groups are the privileges. The distinction of course, is not by any means an absolute one, for Mary’s function s are also privileges and her privileges functions. In this Chapter we shall see Mary’s functions and privileges and how it helps us in our salvation. It also deals with power of our Lady’s intercession and her major apparitions in recent centuries.


Mary’s function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power. It flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it and draws all its power from it. It does not hinder in any way the immediate union of the faithful with Christ but on the contrary fosters it. The important functions of Mary include divine maternity, her universal mediation, apostolic mission, and her universal sovereignty.

1.1. The Divine Maternity

The fundamental function of Mary is the divine maternity. The divine maternity is the raison d’etre of her very existence let alone her other privileges; that is to say, Mary was created only in order to become the mother of God. Mary was the mother according to the flesh and also according to the spirit, since she freely and lovingly consented to be the mother of Jesus Christ.[38]

            The Catholic view of Divine Maternity is that Mary was Chosen not as a physical instrument to accomplish a material work, but as the moral, conscious and free instrument of a divine mystery; and especially, in her soul, to become a worthy Mother of God.[39]

1.2. Mary’s Apostolic mission

            By the apostolic mission of Mary we mean the role confided to her by her son of helping him until the end of time in the work of freeing souls from the slavery of devil, and of sanctifying and saving every soul that comes in to the world.

Both Scripture and tradition attribute to Mary an activity affecting souls in a way that can be called an apostolate. In its very first pages Scripture contains a clear prophecy of this mission of the Bl. Virgin, in the curse pronounced by God against Satan. “I will put enmity between thee and women, between thy seed and her seed …..her heel” (Gen 3:15). What the Old Testament foreshadowed in its oriental imagery, the New Testament shows as realized. It was the miracle obtained by Mary at Cana that confirmed the faith of first five Apostles. It was after their retreat made in union with Mary that the Twelve received the Holy Spirit, who completed the Apostolic Formation and send them in to the world, powerful in word and work.[40]

1.3. Mary’s Sovereignty

            In the encyclical Quas Primas on Christ the King, Pope Pius XII distinguished a twofold sovereignty, one metaphoric and the other proper. Mary is Queen in a metaphorical sense when she is invoked as Queen of virgins, Queen of Martyrs, because she possessed in a super eminent degree the purity of former and the fidelity of latter in their sufferings endured for Christ. Yet like her son she also possesses sovereignty in its proper sense with the accompanying power.[41]

There are several Biblical texts which are quoted in support of Mary’s sovereignty especially Ps 44:10-14, “The Queen stood on the right hand in glided clothing….. cloth round with varieties” Commending these words ,the Doctors of the Church describe Mary in a symbolical way as triumphantly entering in to the royal halls of heaven and sitting at the right hand of the Divine Redeemer. Likewise in the words of Canticle of Canticles ‘that goes up by the desert as a pillar of smoke of aromatical spices, of myrrh and frankincense’, according to many writers signify Bl. Mary’s royal power. The spices, myrrh and frankincense symbolize Mary’s earthly and heavenly Queen Ship.[42]

1.4. Universal Mediation

            A mediator is one who places himself between two persons in order to unite them, either because there is a reconciliation to be achieved or a favour to be obtained. Mediatrix is a catholic term to describe the unique role of mother in her Son’s mission as Mediator. As Mediatrix Mary takes nothing from Christ’s all sufficient mediatorship.[43] It is owing to the redeemer that all the redeemed are enabled to share in the saviors work, and to influence the salvation of their brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. Through her life of faith on earth and now through her union with the risen Christ, share is the supreme example of loving association with the saviour in His mission of redeeming humankind.[44]

1.4.1. Mary’s office of Mediatrix

Mary’s position because of her Immaculate Conception, before the redemption, is of all creatures nearest to God; and her position because of her Divine Motherhood, is of all creatures nearest to Christ; and her position, and because of her Divine Motherhood of us ,is of all creatures nearest to us; and, since her mind and heart were wholly sacrificed in offering her Divine Son as a holocaust for us, her other sons and since  her function of mother continuous both Divine and human, enjoying the twofold maternal relationship between Christ and herself and between herself and humankind; her status is, next to Christ’s pre-eminently mediatory. Her participation is not merely an official participation; she is an affectionate, sacrificing and compassionate participant. In other words she possessed qualifications of mind and heart and therefore was already of cooperative disposition in her function with the Principal Mediator even before she had been elevated to the formal and official position of a Mediatrix.[45]

1.4.2. Mediation of Mary differ from that of Jesus Christ

A Mediator is one who holds a neutral position between the parties at variance. In the present case there arose an opposition between the creator and the creature on account of the sin committed by the first man. Sin, being an offence against the infinite majesty of God was infinite. Infinite offence cannot be made good but by an infinite satisfaction. No creature as being infinite could give full satisfaction for the infinite offence. Hence is that Jesus Christ the second person of the most Holy Trinity became man. Christ being God and man could reconcile with man by his natural power. And he alone could do it. Hence St Paul says “There is one God and one Mediator between God and man, the Jesus Christ (1 Tim 2:5).”

The Mediation of Mary therefore, as Mediatrix between God and man was not natural but ministerial, in other words she was Mediatrix by grace. Her mediation was depending from that of Jesus Christ. So we can call mediation of Mary dependent, secondary or subordinate that is to say she received the power of mediation through Jesus.  In this way Mediation of Mary in no way detracts from the mediation of Jesus Christ, rather it confirms the mediation of Jesus and leads to a higher estimation to it.[46]

1.4.3. The Necessity of the Mediation of Mary for our salvation

No one denies that Jesus Christ is our only Mediator 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 mediation of His saints especially Mary His Mother, whom Jesus desires so much to see loved and honored by all. St. Bonaventure expressly calls her “Mary the most faithful Mediatrix of our salvation.” When we say mediation of Mary is necessary to salvation; we say necessary not absolute necessity; but with a moral necessity; for the Church believes that God had determined that no grace shall be granted than by the hands of Mary. This necessity proceeds from the will itself of God. Father Contenson says, “No one can be saved except through the merits of Jesus suffering and death, so no one will be a partaker of the blood then shed than the prayer of Mary.  Jesus wounds are ever flowing fountains of grace; but their streams will reach no one but by the channel of Mary.” St. Bonaventure says Mary is called “the gate of heaven because no one enters there without passing through her.”[47]


God granted the Virgin Mary the privilege of being full of grace so that she would be able to perfectly fulfill her unique mission as the Mother of God.

2.1. The Immaculate Conception

The Immaculate Conception of Mary consists essentially in her exemption from original sin. Mary was never in the state of passive enmity toward god in which all men find themselves before Baptism. From the very first moment of her existence her soul was embellished with sanctifying grace, which made her beloved child of God.[48]

It was not in virtue of any right of hers but through the pure liberty of God, and this in view of merits of her Son. Immaculate Conception in no way restricts the universality of the Redemption. Mary was also redeemed even more completely than we were and her grace of redemption was more efficacious than ours.[49]

It is in Dec 8, 1854 Pope Pious IX pronounced and declared that the doctrine which holds the “Blessed Virgin Mary has been preserved from every stain of original sin at the first instant of her conception, by a grace and unique privilege of God Almighty, in view of merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of humankind, had been revealed by God and must, therefore, be firmly and constantly believed by all faithful.” [50]

2.2.   The Virginity of Mary

The term virginity has two aspects: a bodily aspect and a moral aspect. The bodily aspect refers to the physical integrity of the Blessed Virgin before, during, and after giving birth to Jesus Christ. The moral aspect, which Mary equally possessed, refers to the deliberate and virtuous habit of perpetually preserving her virginity.

2.2.1. The Virginity before Child birth

Mary’s virginal conception was necessary for in first place the very divinity of her son required it. Man-God should be born in a manner different from that of a mere man and that, as much as Jesus is like us by His humanity, if He is God He should have a temporal origin that, in some way, is divine. The Fathers said it often: “God could be born only of a virgin and of virgin could be born only a God.”[51]

2.2.2. The Virginity during the Child birth

 As conceived her son in purity, so did she give him birth in the same way. Untouched by the sin of Eve, she was not subject to the curse which followed it, and so she conceived without concupiscence and gave birth without pain. In being born of her the Son of God did not break the seal of virginal purity, and made her, the inviolate.[52]

2.2.3. The Virginity after the Child birth

By the virginity after Child birth or perpetual virginity we understand that Mary, being virgin in the conception and in the birth of Jesus, remained a virgin till the end of her life, and that, therefore, she did not give birth to any children other than Jesus. “In 649 the Council of Lateran under Pope Martin 1 decreed in its third canon: “If any one does not admit that ever-Virgin and all pure Mary has conceived of the Holy spirit, without seed, Son of God and brought him forth, her Virginity remaining inviolate even after the birth, let him be anathema.”[53]

2.3. The Holiness of Mary

Mary’s holiness is God’s free gift bestowed on her in view of her unique relationship to Jesus as Virgin- Mother of the Saviour. All holiness is rooted in God’s free choice. The unique holiness of Mary, celebrated in the Immaculate Conception, consists in her special place in god’s plan of salvation. All flowers of Jesus are chosen by God before the foundation of the world to be Holy. This election is ratified and realized by them in their actual encounter with Gospel and their response in faith. It is different in Mary she is included in the beginning in god’s plan of salvation as mother of the Saviour.[54]

The biblical text which positively expresses Mary’s holiness is the salutation of the angel “Hail highly favored” (Lk 1:28). Holiness is the god’s gift which becomes the transforming power in human life. Mary, the addressee of the Angel’s greetings is the one who totally included in God’s sanctifying love without limitation.[55]

2.4. The Assumption

The dogma of Assumption affirms as revealed truth that Mary at the end of her earthily life was taken up into the glory of heaven in body and in soul. By the doctrine of assumption we hold that this glorification of the flesh, which will take for us only at the end of time, was granted to Mary at the conclusion of her earthly life, as it was for Jesus; but with this exception, that Jesus arose from the tomb and ascended into heaven by His own power; Mary, however, by the power of her Son.[56]

Mary’s Assumption must not be understood as the last stage of her pilgrimage. It is an eschatological mystery of contemplation. In her glory, Christian faith perceives what God has done for all of us through Jesus Christ. Mary is an icon, the sacred image in which we recognized not only Mary’s fulfillment but the assurance of our own destiny.[57]  


Mary’s Intercession is the continuation of her role in Christ redemptive mission in the fulfillment of her glory. It was her vocation to be the mother of saviour, to give Jesus to the world. The role she accepted in Nazareth did not end with her death. For ever she is the living chalice through which God offers his saving love to the world.[58]

3.1. Preliminary Clarifications

To understand the role of Mary in God’s plan of salvation through her intercession this preliminary clarification may be helpful.

(1) Mediation and intercession are based on solidarity and community: though human life is personal, it is essentially woven into community. Christians belong to God in and through their communion with the Church. This is the basis of all mediation of sacramental life in the Church and of intercession.[59]

(2) Intercession does not detract from God’s sovereignty: God’s designs are eternal, not subject to change, but his eternal wisdom includes our temporal needs, all circumstances of our daily life, our supplications.[60]

(3) The prayer to Mary bring us closer to God: Prayers addressed to Mary reach beyond her into the mystery of God himself. Mary stands on our side in her spirit of docility, obedience and involvement, we are sure to find Jesus and through him to come to the Father.[61]

3.2. Mary’s prayer of intercession

Mary’s life on earth was summed up in the response to the angel: “Be it done unto me according to the word” (Lk 1:38). It is at once an expression of humble obedience to God’s will and a trusting prayer that the mystery of salvation be realized. Thus Mary’s ‘fiat’ on earth becomes the prayer of her eternity; that God’s saving presence, which through her was realized in our world, be actually fulfilled for all.

Also in her intercession Mary is the type of the Church, the struggling community of believers. The church has not only the mission to preach and work for the inauguration of God’s kingdom in the world; in her liturgy and in the heart of all her members she pray’s with Mary: “May be it done according to your will” (Lk 1:38).[62]

 3.3. Mary’s intercession in Bible and Tradition

Mary’s intercession at the feast at Cana is often quoted as an anticipation of her intercession in heaven. She turns to Jesus with the simple statement: “they have no more wine” (Jn 2:3). In John’s Gospel the changing of water into wine is called the first miraculous sign worked by Jesus. The water taken from the jars to be used for ritual purification symbolizes the era of law. The sign is worked as answer to Mary’s intercession. Thus her request comprises the coming of the new creation in God’s kingdom.[63]

Theological tradition consists in the growing insight into the data of revelation and their implications. The Church knows of the solidarity by which all members of the Church are bound together in mutual support and intercession. The communion of saints, the lasting solidarity beyond death of all who are redeemed in Christ, is deeply enshrined in her consciousness, in her life and liturgy. All this is blended together in growing clarity in the consciousness of the Church of Mary’s intercession for all. It became an alienable part of Christian life and practice. [64]


            An apparition is the visible experience of a supernatural being that is normally inaccessible to human senses. Apparitions of Jesus, Mary, angels and saints have been reported throughout Christian history. The Church reserves judgment concerning the nature and truth of any particular apparition.[65] The apparitions of Mary testify to her active presence in the life of the church. They are a special manifestation of the maternal love by which “she cares for the brothers and sisters of her Son still journey on earth” (LG 62)[66]. There have been many cures and miracles, but above all there are lots of conversions happening in these places. Their purpose of these apparitions is not to bring a new revelation but to recall and focus attention on this or that aspect of the Gospel teaching. Some of the major apparitions of the nineteenth and twentieth century are:

Our lady of Miraculous Medal

In the convent of sisters of Charity, Rue de Bac, Paris, our lady appeared to a novice, Sister Catharine Laboure, three times during the year 1830. Sister Catharine saw our Lady standing on a globe and holding in her hands another globe topped by a small cross. This globe disappeared and our lady held her hands stretched out, her fingers covered with shining rings and precious jewels. She was surrounded by an oval tableau on which were written in golden letters; “O Mary, conceived without original sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” Then sister saw an “M” surmounted by a cross and standing on a bar, beneath which were two hearts, the sacred hearts of Jesus and Mary. A voice said to her: Make a medal after this model. Those who carry it with piety will receive great graces.[67]

Our Lady of La Salette

On September 19, 1846, on a mountain slope about four miles from the village of La Salette in south-eastern France, our Lady appeared to two children, Maximin Giraud, 11 and Melanie Mathieu- Calvat, 15. Our Lady appeared as seated in the rock on the floor of a dried-up stream. She was weeping bitterly. She then stood up and gave message for the people. They were offending her Son by violating the commandments of God and the Church, especially by swearing and blaspheming the holy name, by non-observance of the Sunday and Lenten fast. The dry spring of the stream where our Lady appeared had burst forth and was flowing freely down the, mountain side. Many miracles took place when this water was put to pious use. In 1851 Pope Pius IX declared the apparition of our Lady of La Salette to have been a true one.[68]

Our Lady of Lourdes

During five months from Feb 11 to July 16 in the year 1858, the Bl. Virgin appeared eighteen times to fourteen year old Bernadette Soubirous at the grotto of Massabieille near the town of Lourdes in Southern most France. She said to her to pray for sinners. Another time she repeated three times the word penance or penitence. On the feast day of annunciation March 25 she complied with Bernadette’s request to reveal who she was by saying: I ‘am the Immaculate conception. After thorough investigation, the Bishop of Tarbes made an official declaration, stating that the 18 apparitions of our Lady of Lourdes are invested with every character of truth. The Feast of our Lady of Lourdes is observed on Feb 11.[69]

Our Lady of Pontmain

Our Lady was seen in the sky by five children at the village of Pontmain in Mayenne, North-Western France. Our Lady was clothed blue dress which was covered with stars and she wore a crown over a black veil. After enquiry and consultation with the Holy See the bishop of Laval pronounced the apparitions are true and authorized the cult of Our Lady of Hope of Pontmain.[70]

Our Lady of Fatima

In 1917, Our Lady appeared to three little children namely Lucy dos Sandos and her cousins Francis and Jacinta in the barren hills of Fatima, Portugal. She showed them her Immaculate heart surrounded with thorns afflicted by the sins of the world and asked for reparation and penance. After investigation by a canonical commission, the bishop of Leiria in 1930 proclaimed the apparitions of Fatima worthy of credence and officially announced the cult of our Lady[71]

Our Lady of Beauraing

Beauraing is a village in Southern Belgium. Here our Lady appeared no less than 33 times to five children, four girls and one boy between November 29, 1932 and January3, 1933. On Dec 21, she declared: I’ am the Immaculate Heart. On Jan 3, the last time she appeared, she said I ‘am the Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven, I will convert the sinners. After ten years of investigation on 1943 a decree was issued authorizing the cult of our Lady of Beauraing.[72]

Our Lady of Banneux

Our Lady appeared at Banneux, a hamlet in Belgium, to a eleven year old Marriette Beco. Our Lady said to her, “I’ am the virgin of the poor. In another apparition She said, “I’ am the Mother of the Saviour! Pray hard!”  In 1942 the bishop of Liege wrote pastoral letter authorizing the cult of Our Lady of Banneux, our Lady of the Poor.[73]


            The bull “Ineffabilis Deus”[74] states that God “filled her marvelously with an abundance of all heavenly gifts of grace from His divine treasure, far exceeding all the Angelic spirits and all the saints so that she excelled with such fullness of sanctity that it has no equal below God.”  The Son of god willed to be born of Mary in order to save us. He is her Son; Mary is his mother. He is her Child, more her Child than is the child of any other mother, because to her alone He owes His whole Human nature.  Every Christian feels that Jesus must have shared His own graces and privileges with his mother and especially so, He himself created her. He created her expressly to be His mother and consequently he made her exactly as He wish her to be. Besides Jesus love was not just any love, but the love of son. It’s by nature itself, that every Child resemble its mother not only physically but spiritual as well.




As God associated man in His work of creation by giving him the dignity of cause, so in the holy work of redemption God use several persons, among whom Blessed Virgin Mary holds a prominent position. In this chapter we deal with what precisely is Mary’s role in the work of redemption.


“God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Jesus Christ is the gift of the Father– a precious gift, indeed, to a lost world. He is given to redeem his people; given that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

1.1. Definition of the term Redemption

The English word redemption comes from the Latin redemptio and signifies literally the process of buying back, liberating by payment of a price or ransom. Redemption in the present acceptance means the reconciliation of man with God. In other words redemption is the act of reparation by which Jesus Christ, the Son of God by taking away man’s sin liberating him from the servitude of Satan, and gaining for him sanctifying grace, which makes man son of God and heir of heaven.[75]

1.2.      Objective and Subjective Redemption

There are two stages in the redemption, objective redemption and subjective redemption. The first stage consists in Christ’s atonement and once for all acquisition of the entire treasury of all grace for humankind. This was accomplished through the whole life and death of our Saviour, culminating on Calvary, and is called the objective redemption. The second stage is the distribution of that forgiveness and grace to men; it is called the subjective redemption. It is the application to men of the fruits of the objective redemption.[76]

1.3.   Jesus the Redeemer of Humankind

Christ was chosen to be the Redeemer of his people. God gave him as a free gift to the Church. A greater gift he could not bestow upon lost sinners. By shedding his own blood, Jesus the Redeemer has purchased everlasting salvation for his people.

1.3.1. Jesus suffered and died in obedience to God his Father

Satan established his kingdom among men by leading Adam to disobey God. Jesus, the Son of God made Man, undid the harm done through Satan and restored God’s Kingdom among men by obeying God. While Adam yielded to Satan’s temptation by disobeying God, our Lord rejected Satan’s temptation by obeying God. The Son of God came on earth to do God’s will of making an oblation of sacrifice of His body. In making the oblation of His body “He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even unto the death of the cross” (Phil 2:8). This was the price He paid to restore God’s kingdom among men.[77]

1.3.2. The death of Jesus with its suffering was a sacrifice

Jesus’ death on the cross with all its suffering was a sacrifice. St. Paul quoting David declares that because God found sacrifices of the Old Law unsatisfactory, the Son of God came. “Sacrifice and oblation Thou Would not …Then I said, Behold I come” (Heb 10: 5-7). Christ is the High priest forever. He is holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from the sinners and made higher than the heavens. He need not offer sacrifice daily first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people. He offered sacrifice once in offering Himself in his death.[78]

1.3.3. Jesus the Redeemer of Humankind by his passion and death

Redeemer should accomplish our redemption by His passion and death was foretold by the prophets. Moses and the prophets said “that Christ should suffer” (Acts26:22). The Chief priests and Pharisees by making Pilate condemn Him to die on the cross fulfilled all things that were written by Him. David tells of Redeemers rejection by his own people. He is “the reproach of men and outcast of the people” (Ps 21:7). Pilate asked them, “What shall I do with Jesus that is called Christ? They cried out, crucify Him!” (Mt 27:22). St. John, emphasis the voluntary nature of His dying, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished that the scripture might be fulfilled declared, “Father in to Thy hands I commend my spirit” (Lk 23:46). Thus our Redeemer should accomplish our redemption by His passion and death was foretold by the prophets.[79]

1.3.4. Jesus merited our redemption in justice

Christ redeemed us by meriting from us from His Father in justice through His humbling Himself in obedience to His Father unto the death of the cross: forgiveness of the sins, grace, the beatific vision, and the glorious resurrection. He literary bought us through His death of obedience. We were “bought with a great price” (1Cor 6:20). We were redeemed not with corruptible gold and silver, “but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb unspotted and undefiled.”[80]


Mary, as the New Eve, gave the world the instrument of redemption–the body of Christ, just as Eve gave the world the instrument of the Fall–the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. In this sense, Mary is called co-redemptrix, due to her participation in the Redemption.

2.1. Definition of the Title Co-Redemptrix

The Title Co-Redemptrix, which originated in the 14th century, has been widely used by Catholic bishops, theologians and poplar writers ever since. In more recent times it has been employed even in the documents of Holy See, hence its legitimacy is no longer questioned by Catholics.[81]

Theologians have different opinion regarding meaning of the title Co-Redemptrix. For some theologians, it refers to Mary’s cooperation in the redemption in the sense that she knowingly and willingly give birth to the Redeemer (direct, remote cooperation), and that she dispenses to us the fruits (graces) of the Redemption already accomplished by Christ alone (technically:  cooperation in the subjective Redemption).[82] The majority however believes that besides the two type of cooperation just mentioned, Mary also contributed to the Redemption itself i.e., to the redemptive action of Christ that was consummated on Calvary (called objective Redemption).  Specifically, together with Christ though in total subordination to Him and in virtue of his power, Mary atoned or satisfied for our sins, merited every grace necessary for salvation and joined the Savior’s sacrifice on Calvary to appease the wrath of God.[83]

2.2.    Mary Associated with Jesus Our Redeemer as Co-Redemptrix

According to Cardinal Newman not only did the Fathers and the Church writers from the earliest times onward identify Mary with the women in the protoevangelium and oppose her to Eve, but they gave her a positive role in our redemption beyond the motherhood of the redeemer by declaring that she cooperated with her son in our redemption.

Mary’s enmity towards Satan being joined with those of her Son, she must have been as associated with Him the Redeemer as to be correctly termed Co-Redemptrix.  Jesus is her Redeemer. Jesus became the Redeemer of all men, including His mother, by offering Himself to His Father as victim for them. Mary become the Co-Redemptrix of all men , excluding herself by joining Jesus in offering Himself to His Father on the cross as victim for men. Jesus became Redeemer by humbling Himself, becoming obedient even unto death. Through his humble obedience Jesus merited the redemption of us, of all humankind, in justice. By joining Jesus in humble disobedience to the on the cross and suffering with Him, Mary merited our redemption through Jesus courageously in association with Him. Only as Co-Redemptrix can Mary be adequately associated with the enmities of Jesus as Redeemer toward Satan. “I will put enmities between the woman, and thy seed and her seed” (Gen 3:15).[84]

2.3.   Mary’s cooperation in general in the work of Redemption

2.3.1.      Mary as Co-principle of the Fruits of Redemption

It is a very ancient idea in the Church, expressed by numerous witnesses, rather, it is a definite dogma, proven by the Church’s mode of reading the protogospel in the Vulgate, “She shall crush thy head” (Gen 3:15), that the effects of Christ’s, Redeeming death can and must be ascribed in a very real sense, to His Mother as to their principle. She is thus called salvatrix, reparatrix, liberatrix, reconciliatrix, redemptrix etc. These comparisons are to be understood in the sense of only a mediation, or intermediate cause, of the redemption. Also the name Mediatrix is in her case not used in the same sense as with the other saints, but in a sense analogous to that in which it is referred to Christ. In other words she is indicated as the mediating cause of all the effects of salvation for the world at large, also for pre-Christian humankind. Thus she is not only the Mediatrix who applies the fruits of the redemption to individuals, but also the Mediatrix who produces and gains these fruits.[85]

2.3.2.      Mary’s Cooperation dependent on Christ

Mary is subordinate to and dependent on Christ as the Redeemer in such a way that she herself is redeemed by Him and can cooperate in the redemption only as one redeemed and with a power which she receives from Him. Mary is only a principle of the redemption as a cooperating partner, accepted and equipped by the Redeemer. More definitely, she is a ministering partner in the execution of work of redemption, which is carried out entirely by his power and might. In Latin this is expressed as: ministra redemptoris in opera redemptionis i.e. minister of the Redeemer in the work of redemption. In the modern times, from the sixteenth century on, Mary as cooperatrix in the redemption is also called coredemptrix.[86]

2.3.3.      The Course of the Redemption and that of the Fall

The fall of human race was effected by the devil with the help of man and women. Hence the redemption had to be affected not by the new Adam alone, but with the cooperation of new Eve, and thus a woman must become a cause of the redemption, since a woman had been the cause of Fall. As in the cause of Fall a woman had the initiative, so in the redemption a woman must prepare the way by her activity. Both sexes had their share in causing the Fall, both must likewise have their share in bringing out the restoration. Both sexes are united in disgrace and in the glory.[87]

2.3.4.      Other Reasons for Mary’s Cooperation in the Redemption

Apart from the women’s participation in the sin, all other reasons in general, calling for the realization of the incarnation by human mother, belong to the design giving Mary’s cooperation its proper place in the plan of the redemption. Especially the following reasons:

  • In the redemption, since it is work of triune God, both the persons who proceed from the father, not only the Son but also the Holy Ghost, must be represented by a special created agent.
  • Not only to a created nature, but also to a created person God wished to give the honor of cooperating in his sublime work, in order thus to make the abundance and graded regulation of the communication of his grace richer and more harmonious.
  • A human being one to be redeemed, and hence participating passively in the redemption, was to take an active part in the execution of the redemption, in the name of rest of humankind. By preparation and participation in the redeeming sacrifice, this person was perfectly to achieve the appropriation of redeeming act and its effect upon humankind in general.
  • Finally, by the participation of a female specially destined to be associated with the Christ to the ends mentioned, and who, as the maternal bride of Christ, became in her cooperation with Him the spiritual mother of the remaining members of the redeemed, these latter will have greater confidence of receiving the fruits of redemption, and thus will strive for them more courageously.[88]

2.4. Mary’s role in our salvation

The human role in God’s design of salvation is not an addition to God’s work; God alone saves through Jesus Christ.  It is our task to receive the message of salvation in faith, respond to it in obedience and become involved and committed in its realization. The human response is realizes first in Mary. She embodies the Human part in the divine work of salvation.[89] Mary’s role in the divine work can be summed up in three conclusions:

  • Her role must not be presented in any way parallel with Jesus work, as if Mary were doing on a smaller scale what Jesus did in the fulfillment of his mission. Everything in salvation is God’s work; everything must be received in faith by her, for the world.
  • Mary’s presence under the cross be understood as the ultimate ratification of her fiat in Nazareth. Her response to the angel is total and final, yet its full meaning is revealed only in the acceptance of his passion, sharing in his obedience unto death.
  • Participation in Jesus saving mission is her own sanctification; it makes her a channel of grace for the world. Through her union with Jesus she both redeemed and she is the channel of redemption for the world.[90]

2.5. The Teaching of Tradition

The doctrine of Our Lady’s Co-redemption is generally referred to as traditional in the Catholic Church. In order to follow the gradual development of the doctrine through the centuries we shall divide in three sections corresponding to the three following periods.

2.5.1. The Patristic Period

            Chronologically, the first germ of the doctrine may be traced to the antithetical parallelism between Mary and Eve, so frequently described by ancient writers, specifically   St. Irenaeus of Lyons (202).[91]He summarizes: “Just as she (Eve) having disobeyed, became the cause of death to herself and to the entire human race, so Mary being obedient, became the cause of salvation to herself and to the entire Human race…”[92] It is scarcely likely, however that these rarely writers intended to attribute to Mary an immediate cooperation in the objective redemption. They seem to have in mind her conscious role in bringing the saviour into the world[93].

2.5.2. The Middle Ages

The Middle Ages designated her extends roughly from the ninth to the sixteenth century and may well be considered a transition period as regards our doctrine. It is during this time that the theologians and Catholic writers in general, under the influence of St. Bernard, St. Bonaventure and pseudo-Albert the Great begin to turn their attention to the properly soteriological character of Our Lady’s association with the Saviour of humankind.[94]

Arnold of Charters (1160) was acknowledged as the first clear exponent of Our Lady’s Co-redemption. He states: “Christ and Mary together accomplished the task of man’s Redemption… both offered up one and the same sacrifice to God…”[95]The noteworthy contribution of the St. Bonaventure is that he drew the only logical conclusion by pointing out that on Calvary Our Lady co-offered the divine Victim, satisfied for our sins. Blessed John Tauler (1361) addresses Our Lady: (at the foot of the cross), filled with sorrow, thou hast redeemed men together with thy Son. The term Co-redemptrix now made its appearance, perhaps for the first time in history. In the 15th century, its contribution to the evolution of doctrine was virtually nonexistent. Alphonsus Salmeron, an eminent theologian of the Council of Trent in the 16th century writes, it was the will of Saviour that His holy mother, as a Co-redemptrix, should have a share in his redeeming power.[96]

2.5.3. The Modern period

The 17th century may well be considered the “Golden age” of Mary’s Co-redemption. It is with the theologians of this epoch that the doctrine of Mary’s direct cooperation in the redemption reaches its fullest development. It is during this period virtually every aspect of Mary’s Co-redemption namely: Merit, Satisfaction, Sacrifice and Ransom had been studied and the doctrine accepted quite generally in its present formulation.[97]

  • Merit: By the middle of the 17th century the doctrine had almost become a theological axiom and was formulated as follows: the Blessed Virgin merited for us de congruo that which Christ merited for us de condign.  Perhaps the first theologian to exploit the above axiom was Ferdinand de Salazar (d. a. 1616). Roderick de Portillo O.F.M., Augustinian Bartholomew is among the Theologians who give notable contribution in this connection.
  • Satisfaction: Blessed Virgin, particularly through her bitter compassion, offered some satisfaction for our sins. This phase of the doctrine begin to appear more and more boldly expressed in the Mariological treatises of the 17th century. Frangipane, Wadding, de Kreaytter are the contributors. The 18th century simply holds fast to the Mariological legacy of the 17th century.
  • Sacrifice: Christ redeemed the Human race not only way of merit and satisfaction, but also by way of sacrifice.  Marian theologians in the 17th century, such as Portillo, de Rojas, Niquet and  others while treating Mary’s Co-redemption, emphasis on her sacrificial oblation on Calvary. In the 19th  Century professional theologians like Scheeben,  Kueranger, Korber, Risi unmistakably point out to Mary as Co-redemptrix precisely in as much as she offered up the divine Victim on Calvary for our redemption.[98]
  • Ransom (Redemptive Price): The fourth aspect under which Our Lord’s objective redemption is ‘ransom’ or paying of the ‘price.’ If our Lady together with Christ and under Him satisfied for our sins and merited our supernatural restoration, she had, by that very fact, a direct and proximate share in the actual paying of the price of our redemption.  The Seraphic Doctor, St. Bonaventure, is the first one to clearly refer to this modality of Mary’s Co-redemption.  This theme is recalled by de Guevara, de Convelt and others in the 17th century. [99]

In the decades of mid-20th century, the theory of Mary’s Co-redemption in the strict sense has won so many adherents that it is rightly regarded as the opinion of vast majority theologians. After centuries of careful analysis and theological reflection, the complex doctrine, which had such modest beginning in Christian antiquity, seems at last to have entered its final phase of scientific systematization.[100]

2.6. The Popes and the Co-redemptrix

A curious misunderstanding often appears even among educated Catholics. It is thought that nothing less than a solemn definition carries any binding for Catholics. The fact that the statements of the Pope that are not in the form of solemn definition does not destroy their binding force. Most of the teachings found in encyclicals are on matters that are already settled and accepted in Catholic doctrine. After all the preaching of the Apostles was not in the form of definitions, yet of it our Lord said: “He who hearth you hearth me.” [101]

To St. Pius X belongs the credit for giving us the clear statement of Mary’s role. In the encyclical Ad diem illum he made it clear that the prime means by which he hoped to restore all things in Christ was through Mary. He states, “Now from this common sharing of will and suffering between Christ and Mary, she merited to become most worthily the reparatrix of the lost world. She was associated by Christ with himself in the work of human redemption, she merited for us congruously, as they say what Christ merited condignly.”[102]

Leo XIII states, “It is impossible to say how pleasing and gratifying to the Blessed Virgin it is when we greet her with the Angelic Salutation, ‘full of grace’ and in repeating it do we not fashion these words of praise in to crown of devotion for her. For every time we say them, we recall the memory of her exalted dignity and of the redemption of the human race which God began through her.”[103] “We naturally turn to the powerful mother of God. She was the co-operatrix in man’s redemption and always the chief and sovereign refuge of Catholics in the trial they underwent.”[104]

Pius XII in his Encyclical Haurietis aquas writes, “The most virgin mother was inseparably joined with Christ in accomplishing the work of man’s redemption so that our salvation flows from the love of Jesus Christ and his sufferings intimately united with the love and sorrows of His Mother.”[105]

“From the nature of His work the Redeemer ought to have associated His Mother with His work. For this reason we invoke her under the title of Co-redemptrix. She gave us the saviour; she accompanied Him in the work of redemption, sharing with Him the sorrows of agony and of the death in which Jesus consummated the redemption of humankind.” [106]

2.7. The concept Co-Redemptrix after Vatican II

            Vatican Council though retained and deepened the Catholic understanding of Our Lady’s role; it avoided the Words “Co-redemptrix” and “Dispensatrix” and used the word “Mediatrix” only once. For the Council restricted use of these words, there was double reason: one ecumenical and Pastoral. Ecumenically, those words have seemed to many who are not Catholics to clash with Biblical insistence on Jesus as one Mediator. Pastorally, the bishops were anxious that Catholics understand even better Mary’s true place under Christ.[107]

The Council describing her free acceptance of role of the Mother of God at the Annunciation, the Council adds (56): “Rightly then do the Holy Fathers judge that Mary was not just employed by the God in a passive way, but that she cooperated in human salvation by free faith and obedience. The Council quoted St. Irenaeus, “being obedient became a cause of salvation for herself and the whole human race.”[108] After this statement, in the next pare we read, “This union of the Mother with the son in the work of salvation is evident, from the time of virginal conception of Christ, even to his death.”[109] The Council further says that she co-operated in the work of saviour “in an altogether singular way.”She co-operated “by obedience, faith, hope and burning love.”[110]

  1. 3.     Difficulties and Solutions

While the doctrine of Our Lady’s co-redemption enjoys the support of most contemporary theologians, nevertheless there are some authors who still find it difficult, to conciliate this teaching with other irrevocable data of divine revelation. Their difficulties and observation deserve a fair and unemotional hearing. The formulation of answers and solutions should supply us with an opportunity to shed further light on some of the vague issues involved.

  • The first objection is based on sacred Scripture particularly on the text of St. Paul: “For there is one God and one mediator of God and men …for all” (1Tim 2:5) The Apostle is here is proclaiming the oneness of the Redeemer to the exclusion of other. Prof Goossens argues: Just as oneness of God is incompatible with the existence of secondary gods, so is the oneness of the mediator (redeemer) with the existence of secondary mediators.

The objection is raised since 16th century. In the light of parallelism stressed by the author, one could point out that, just as the oneness of God does not exclude our sharing His divine nature through sanctifying grace, neither does the oneness of the Mediator exclude an analogous participation of our lady in His mediatorial role.[111]

  • The second difficulty spring from the undeniable theological axiom: ‘the principle or cause of merit cannot be the result or effect of merit.’

Our Lady had been redeemed in a very unique manner, namely through a preservative grace which enabled her to co-operate with her Son at the time He was bringing about our Redemption. She received the preservative grace at the time of her Immaculate Conception in the view of future merits of Christ foreseen by God and applied to Mary by anticipation.[112]

  • In the opinion of some the title Co-redemptrix had better be banished from Catholic theology for the following reasons. First of all, it is a ‘novelty,’ unknown before the past century. Then again the nature of word may mislead those who are less enlightened and even merely prejudiced. After all, the prefix ‘co’ in the word Co-redemptrix does seem to place Our lady on an equal footing with her Son in the Redemptive economy.

There was time in history when the words like transubstantiation, theotokos, and others were new, and yet there were consequently consecrated by ecclesiastical usage. Secondly, it is not the catholic theology that first introduced the title Co-redemptrix but this title can be traced back to at least the fourteenth century in the liturgical book preserved in the manuscripts at St. Peter’s in Salzburg. As regard to the structure of the term Co-redemptrix, the prefix ‘co’ is equivalent of the Latin cum which means ‘with.’ Hence we see no justified fear that the title will mislead and confuse the less enlightened and the prejudiced. A sensible way to prevent confusion is to instruct such people to make them more enlightened and less prejudiced.[113]

  • Lastly, the expression Co-redemptrix can only be explained by being explained away does not correspond to actual facts.

Mary our Co-redemptrix we mean exactly what we say, namely that, she together with Christ redeemed the world.  We have an analogous case in connection with the word infallibility. Once the require limitations are clearly drawn, it is obvious that Pope can err on a variety of subjects. The church has the right to select any term and attach it a specific and restricted meaning. The title Co-redemptrix has been widely used by Church for centuries and repeatedly endorsed by Holy See in recent years. This fact alone more than sufficiently warrants its legitimacy. [114]


            The redemption made by Jesus Christ was primary necessary, superabundant and infinite value. It possessed all its efficacy from itself and fully in accordance with strict justice. Mary’s reparation was secondary and limited; it received all its redemptive value from the merits of Jesus. There can be doubt that Christ could have saved us without Mary’s cooperation, but he condescended to place Mary between Him and man. Thus she cooperated in the work of redemption


It is quite just and praise worthy that the Christians should honor her with this unique title the Co-redemptrix. By calling in her Co-redemptrix, it is not meant to say that she redeemed us by disposition in the work of redemption dependent upon the merits of Jesus Christ. But it only means that she co-operated with the divine disposition the work of redemption dependent upon the merits of Jesus Christ. Sometimes anxiety is expressed that devotion to Mary may detract from the position of Jesus, our one Lord and mediator. Such fear is unfounded. The more we know and love Mary, the more surely will we know and love Jesus and understand his mission in the world. Also the more we know and love him the more we appreciate His Mother’s place in God’s plan for man’s redemption. If we implore our Lady to obtain us a favour, it is not because we distrust the Divine mercy, but we fear our own unworthiness and absence of proper disposition; and we recommend to Mary that her dignity may supply for our lowliness.  God’s free choice is the reason for Mary’s place in the plan for our redemption. She is really a secondary cause of her salvation. Mary’s zeal for the salvation of souls was not a virtue of later days. By her prayers and sacrifices she merited graces on behalf of sinners. The way of Mary, like that of her Son was the way of cross, way of prayer and way of sacrifice. It is through these means that she merited the graces to become the Co-redemptrix of humankind. Jesus came to the world through Mary and worked out the redemption together Mary, thus placing Mary’s satisfaction along side with His own in the balance of Divine Justice. Thus Mary became Co-Redemptrix of humankind with Jesus.

Jesus on the cross said to the disciple, “Here is your Mother”. Jesus proclaimed her our mother in the redemption. The disciple symbolizes all those who accepted Jesus or should accept him or all humankind.  May Mary the Co-redemptrix of the human race, obtain for us a holy and untiring zeal for the salvation of the souls.


 Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.

 That we may be made worthy-of the Promises-of Christ.

[1] Thomas Marydas, Marian study Circles, Ernakulam, Sacred Heart League, 1954, 2.

[2] Canice, Mary a study of Mother of God, Dublin, M.H. Gill & Son Ltd., 1950, 3.

[3] Thomas, Marian study Circles, 3

[4] Canice, Mary a study of Mother of God, 3.

[5]Thomas, Marian study Circles, 3

[6] Mary Ryan, Our Lady in life, Ireland, The Mercier Press Ltd, 2, 3

[7]Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, The mother of the Saviour, (E. Tr. by  Bernard Kelly),  Dublin, Golden eagle Books, Ltd., 22

[8] Juniper Carol, (ed.), Mariology, USA, The Bruce Publishing Company, 1957, 169.

[9] Hilda Grafe, Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion, Vol.1, London, Sheed and Ward Ltd., 1963, 2.

[10] J. Coppens, La Prophetie de la Almah, in ETL, 1952, 668.

[11]Hilda Grafe, Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion, 3.

[12] Hilda Grafe, Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion, 4.

[13] Hilda Grafe, Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion, 6.

[14] Shabu Joseph, “Mary in the Synoptics,” in Joy Kaipan, (ed.), Mary Today, Bangalore, Kristujyothi Publications, 2010, 1-14, 7.

[15] Shabu Joseph, “Mary in the Synoptics,” 8.

[16] Raymond Brown, (eds.,), Mary in the New Testament, Bangalore, TPI, 1978, 52.

[17] Raymond Brown, Mary in the New Testament, 61-63.

[18] Josef Neuner, Mary Mother of the Saviour, Bangalore, TPI, 1995, 32.

[19] Joy Kaipan, Mary Today, 9.

[20] Joy Kaipan, Mary Today, 10.

[21] National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Behold Your Mother, Washington, United States Catholic Conference, 1973, 10.

[22] Matthew Vellanickal, Studies in the gospel of John, Bangalore, Asian Trading Corporation, 1997, 256.

[23] Raymond Brown, Mary in the New Testament, 206.

[24] Raymond Brown, Mary in the New Testament, 292

[25] William Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 1, TPI, Bangalore, 2013, 93.

[26] William Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, 147.

[27] Hilda Grafe, Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion, 62.

[28]Hilda Grafe, Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion, 83.

[29] William Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol.2, 50.

[30] Hilda Grafe, Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion, 122.

[31] Hilda Grafe, Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion, 197.

[32] Hilda Grafe, Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion, 212.

[33] Hilda Grafe, Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion, 243.

[34] Hilda Grafe, Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion, 284.

[35] Hilda Grafe, Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion, 309.

[36] Hilda Grafe, Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion, 313.

[37] Hilda Grafe, Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion, 320.

[38] Thomas Marydas, (ed.), Marian Circles, Ernakulam, Sacred Heart League, 1954, 59.

[39] Emil Neubert, Mary in Doctrine, USA, The Bruce Publishing Company, 1953, 41.

[40] Emil Neubert, Mary in Doctrine, 130.

[41] Emil Neubert, Mary in Doctrine, 138.

[42] Thomas Marydas, Marian Circles, 132.

[43] Thomas Mariadas, Marian Study Circles, 121.

[44] Alexander Schorsch, Our Lord and Our Lady, New York, Philosophical Library, 1957, 112.

[45] Matthew Mayer, Advanced Mariology, Oregon, Sanctuary of our Sorrowful Mother, 1934, 123.

[46] Thomas Marydas, Marian Study Circles, 22.

[47] Eugene Grimm, (ed.,), The Glories of Mary, USA, Brooklyn, 1931, 152.

[48] Karl Rahner, Mary mother of the Lord, Germany, Herder and Herder, 1962, 43.

[49] Joseph Pohle, Mariology, London, Herder Book Co., 1957, 41.

[50] Emil Neubert, Mary in Doctrine, 150.

[51] Emil Neubert, Mary in Doctrine, 168.

[52] Emil Neubert, Mary in Doctrine, 172.

[53] Emil Neubert, Mary in Doctrine, 179.

[54] Friethoff Theodorus A complete Mariology, London, Black Friars Publications, 1958, 51.

[55] Emil Neubert, Mary in Doctrine, 195.

[56] Thomas Paul, (ed.,), The Mother, Kochi, The Kingdom Publications, 1999, 73.

[57] Emil Neubert, Mary in Doctrine, 234.

[58] Garrigou Lagrange, The Mother of the Saviour, (E. Tr. by Bernard J. Kelly), Dublin, Herder Book Company, 1949, 231.

[59] Josef Neuner, Mary Mother of the Saviour, Bangalore, TPI, 1995, 120.

[60] Josef Neuner, Mary Mother of the Saviour, 121.

[61] Josef Neuner, Mary Mother of the Saviour, 121.

[62] Josef Neuner, Mary Mother of the Saviour, 124.

[63] Josef Neuner, Mary Mother of the Saviour, 125.

[64] Josef Neuner, Mary Mother of the Saviour, 126.

[65] Theresa Sanders, “Apparitions,” The Modern Catholic Encyclopaedia, Bangalore, Claretian Publications, 1997, 43.

[66] Lumen Gentium, Constitution on the Church in the modern world, Mumbai, St. Pauls, 1964, 62.

[67] Colin Stephenson, The Marian Era, USA, Franciscan Herald Press, 1960, 21.

[68] Colin Stephenson, The Marian Era, 22.

[69] Colin Stephenson, The Marian Era, 23.

[70] Colin Stephenson, The Marian Era, 24.

[71] John de Marchi, The crusade of Fatima, Portugal, 1964, 8.

[72] Colin Stephenson, The Marian Era, 26.

[73] Colin Stephenson, The Marian Era, 27.

[74] Pope Pius IX, The Apostolic Letter: Ineffabilis Deus, Dec 8, 1854.

[75] E. A. Weis, “Redemption,” New Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol 12, U.S.A, The Catholic University of America, 1967,136.

[76]  Thomas Marydas, Marian Study Circles, 78.

[77]  Alexander Schorsch and Doloris Schorsch, Our Lord and our Lady, New York, Philosophical Library, 1957, 67.  

[78] Alexander Schorsch and Doloris Schorsch, Our Lord and our Lady, 70.

[79] Alexander Schorsch and Doloris Schorsch, Our Lord and our Lady, 70.

[80]Alexander Schorsch and Doloris Schorsch, Our Lord and our Lady, 71.

[81] J.B Carole, “Our Lady’s Co-Redemption,” New Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol 9, U.S.A, The Catholic University of America, 1967, 359.

[82] J.B Carole, “Co-Redemptrix,” Dictionary of Mary, Mumbai, St. Paul’s, 2006, 89.

[83] J.B Carole, Dictionary of Mary, 89.

[84] Alexander Schorsch and Doloris Schorsch, Our Lord and our Lady, 72.

[85] M.J. Scheeben, Mariology, (E. Tr. by M.J. Geukers), London, B. Herder Book Co., 1956, 193-194.

[86] M.J. Scheeben, Mariology, 196.

[87] M.J. Scheeben, Mariology, 200.

[88] M.J. Scheeben, Mariology, 206-207.

[89] Thomas Paul, The Mother, 23.

[90] Josef Neuner, Mary Mother of the Saviour, 118-120.

                [91] J.B Carole, New Catholic Encyclopedia, 361.

[92] William Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, 93.

[93] J.B Carole, New Catholic Encyclopedia, 361.

[94] J.B. Carol, Mariology, in J.B. Carol, USA, Bruce Publishing Co., 1957, 397.

[95] Arnold of Chartes, De Corredemtione, Bertetto, 1726, 51.

[96] Juniper Carol, Mariology, 398.

[97] Juniper Carol, Mariology, 400.

[98] Juniper Carol, Mariology, 401-404.

[99] Juniper Carol, Mariology, 406.

[100] J.B Carole, New Catholic Encyclopedia, 361.

                [101] William Most, Mary  in our Life, Bombay, St.Paul Publication, 1960, 20.

                [102] St. Pius X, Ad diem illum, ASS, 1904.

                [103] Leo XIII, Magne Dei Matris, Sep 8, 1892.

                [104] Leo XIII: Apostolic Constitution, Ubi primum, Oct 2, 1898.

[105] Pius XII: Encyclical, Haurietis aquas, May 15,1956.

                [106] Pius XI: Allocution to pilgrims from Vicenza, Nov 30, 1933.

[107] National conference of catholic bishops, Behold your Mother, Washington, United States Catholic conference. 1973, 25.

[108] William Most, Our Lady after Vatican II, New Delhi, St. Paul’s Publications, 1972. 10.

[109] William Most, Our Lady after Vatican II, 15.

[110] William Most, Our Lady after Vatican II, 17.

[111] Juniper Carol, Mariology, 416.

[112] Juniper Carol, Mariology, 417.

[113] Juniper Carol, Mariology, 422.

[114] Juniper Carol, Mariology, 423.

About bodhicap

This is the journal-blog from the Capuchins at Bodhi Institute of Theology, Tillery, Kollam, India.
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