Francesco Pepe SJ
1684 – 1759 AD
Francesco Pepe taught philosophy and theology. He was a contemporary of St. Alphonsus de Liguori. Both were Neapolitans and, as friends and colleagues, they shared many ideas. Both wrote their books on Mary at about the same time. Pepe’s Delle Grandezze di Gesù Cristo e della gran Madre Maria santissima [= ‘The Grandeurs of Jesus Christ and his most holy Mother’] appeared in 1747, Alphonsus’ Glorie di Maria [= ‘Mary’s Glories’] in 1750.
- Mary was not a sacramentally ordained priest because she was a woman
- Mary possessed the highest degree of the priesthood, equivalently
- Mary is a priest, in union with Christ
- Mary was a divine priestess
“Certain people might think that Mary enjoyed priestly power to consecrate the Body and Blood of her Son as priests of the law of grace do. And what might create a doubt is that Mary [through her Fiat] caused the divine Word to descend from the womb of the Father into her own, clothed it with her flesh, and gave it a human form, all this in a manner much more perfect than priests do. In spite of this, it is a sure and infallible truth that Mary did not receive the sacrament of Holy Orders or the [sacramental] priestly character and, consequently, that she did not have the power to consecrate [the Eucharist] as priests do, since the feminine sex has always been excluded from the dignity of Holy Orders . . . .”
“Mary did not receive, and because she was a woman could not receive , the [sacramental] character of the priesthood; but she was elevated by her Son to the supreme dignity of the priesthood in a more noble fashion. As blessed Albert the Great says in Mariale c. 71, ‘She was not given the character of Holy Orders, but absorbed the offices [of Holy Orders] in a more sublime way so that she possessed the priesthood eminently that is: the highest degree of the priesthood.’ This eminence of power could not be extended to consecrate [the Eucharist], but to offering her divine Son, the immaculate and saintly victim, on the altar of her heart.” Delle Grandezze etc., Naples 1749, vol. 3b, Lesson 133, p. 279.
See the relevant text in St. Albert the Great.
“In three places Jesus Christ was both victim and priest: on the cross, on the altar, and in the Temple . . . and in all three Mary is priest and victim together with her Son. She is a victim and priest in the Eucharist, as proclaimed by St. Epiphanius . . . She is a victim and priest on Calvary . . . . She is a priest in the Temple [= at the Presentation] . . . . This sacrifice [at the presentation in the Temple] was in some ways superior to that of the Eucharist or the cross.” Delle Grandezze etc., Naples 1749, vol. 3b, Lesson 128, pp. 221-222.
“The most divine and beloved Mother sacrificed to the Father . . . , and together with her Son offered to the Father, the same sacrifice of her Son, herself having become with immense love and endurance a divine priestess.” Delle Grandezze etc., Naples 1749, vol. 4, Lesson 177, p. 184.
“Mary did not lack in some way the priestly vestments as the psalmist had foretold: ‘All the glory of the king’s daughter is within in golden borders, clothed round about with various apparel’ (Ps 44,14-15; free according to the Vulgate]. This brocaded dress which women wore . . . bore some resemblance to priestly vestments . . . Our divine priestess was immensely gracious in God’s eyes.” Delle Grandezze etc., Naples 1749, vol. 3b, Lesson 133, p. 280.
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