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The Blessed Virgin Mary, Apostle and Martyr

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By Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC (Oct 23, 2019)
The Blessed Virgin Mary, apostle and martyr?
This is the 14th article in a series on the Litany of Loreto. Every month, I will explain this popular prayer line by line, providing you with spiritual and theological insights.

By Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC

Queen of Apostles, pray for us.
The word "apostle" means to be sent forth. After Jesus commissioned the Twelve to tell the world about His death and Resurrection, He left the Blessed Virgin Mary to help them. Two places in Scripture highlight the special place Jesus gave to Mary over the 12 apostles.

First, while Christ is hanging on the Cross, Scripture says, "When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, 'Woman, behold, your son.' Then he said to the disciple, 'Behold, your mother.' And from that hour the disciple took her into his home" (Jn 19:26-27).

John was the only representative of the apostles during Jesus' darkest hour. The Lord entrusted him to Mary's care and vice versa. In this way, Jesus put in particular all of His apostles under the spiritual queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

After the Resurrection, Jesus could have taken Mary with Him, as perfect as she was. But He had more work for her to do, which we discover in the first chapter of Acts. As Pentecost approached and the apostles chose a new man to replace Judas in the Upper Room, Mary graced them with her presence. Scripture says, "All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers" (Acts 1:14).

In fact, pious tradition says that the first Marian apparition occurred in 40 A.D., when Mary was still on earth. She bilocated to Zaragoza, Spain, to inspire the Apostle James to persevere in his efforts to evangelize that country. Of course, the Apostle James went on to become one of the greatest evangelists in the history of Spain. So, the apostles may have been the first to evangelize the world, but not without Mary's influence. That's why we call her "Queen of Apostles."

Queen of Martyrs, pray for us.
It is likely that the Blessed Virgin Mary, like the prophet Elijah, did not die before being assumed body and soul into Heaven. So how can we call her "Queen of Martyrs?"

Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman (who will be canonized by Pope Francis this Oct. 13) said that the amount Mary suffered qualifies her as a martyr. We find evidence of Mary's suffering in Scripture, when the prophet Simeon tells her, "[A]nd you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed" (Lk 2:34-35). We call Mary "Queen of Martyrs" because by uniting herself closest to Jesus, who has endured more suffering than anyone, she took on more pain than any other created person. The amount of pain she endured did not kill her only because God sustained her with His grace. Therefore, she merits the title "Queen of Martyrs."

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