1604 – 1675 AD
Especially: Sacerdotium Mysticum Marianum[=‘The Mystical Priesthood of Mary’], written before 1647, unpublished manuscript known from later writers; Leonis Imperatoris Mariale [=‘Marian Commentary according to Emperor Leo’], printed Rome 1651; and the Polyanthea Mariana [=‘The anthology of Mary’s titles’], written in 1648, published in Cologne in 1683
Born in Torcilliano, Italy, Ippolito Marracci entered the order of the Friars Regular of the Mother of God in 1621. When he was 34 years old he became vicar general of his order, and looked after the parish of Santa Maria in Campitelli. His main passion was research on Mary: he wrote 100 books on her of which 32 were published and which contain valuable information about the writings of earlier theologians that are now lost. He became known as a strong proponent of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, on account of which he was investigated by the Holy Office. He was arrested and kept imprisoned in a sjmall cell for many months.
Passages quoted in French by Réné Laurentin (in Maria, Ecclesia, Sacerdotium, Nouvelles Éditions Latines, Paris 1952, pp. 327 – 336) and translated into English by John Wijngaards.
- Mary is a priest, anointed by the Spirit
- Mary possesses the New Testament priesthood
- We should offer everything through Mary
A synopsis of Marracci’s views from various texts shows that
(1) he calls Mary a ‘priest’ [=sacerdos] , a ‘priestess’ [sacerdotissa] and even ‘the priesthood’ [=sacerdotium].
(2) Mary’s priesthood is often, however, qualified as a spiritual priesthood: ‘constituted a spiritual priest’ . . . ‘she sacrificed as a spiritual priest’ . . . . ‘spiritual priestess’ . . . .‘consecrated to be a spiritual priest’ . . . . ‘The Virgin was spiritually a priest’.
(3) The term ‘spiritual’ is explained as implying an interior anointing, an anointing by the Holy Spirit: ‘The Blessed Virgin can be said to have been anointed not externally but interiorly, and thus ordained a spiritual, not a legal, priest.’ — ‘The glorious Virgin, anointed not externally but interiorly, was ordained a priest, not according to the law, but according to the Spirit.’ — ‘More than any other woman and differently, Mary was anointed with invisible oil. Otherwise, how could Christ have been born from a Virgin, unless the Virgin had been anointed with heavenly oil [=the oil of the Holy Spirit].’
(4) At times he uses for this the synonym: ‘mystical priest’, which he derived from Andrew of Crete (740 AD).
“Mary possessed the dignity, the task and the office of the New Testament priesthood . . . . At the Purification, Mary offered her Son to God with priestly hands . . . . .With the hands of a priest she offered her Son to God and through this sacrifice she herself was constituted a spiritual priest.” Leonis Mariale, 1651, ‘No 1. In Purificationem’, pp. 151-152.
“ The little that you would like to offer, make sure that you make it pass through the very agreeable and very worthy hands of Mary, if you do not want to risk a refusal . . . . It is to Mary that we must confide our goods and our works of charity. Let us therefore offer today the good that we have done. Let us offer it to his Son through the virginal hands of Mary in order to make a refusal impossible. The Magi have made an offering, but it was by means of the Virgin as Novatus proves. They showed therefore that we must offer through the hands of Mary everything that we have in our heart to offer to God. Mary is in fact, the golden thurible (Rev 8,3) through which we must offer to God in order to please him, not only the incense of our prayers, but also of all our good works. She is also the gate to heaven; she received our requests, our desires, our sighs, our tears as arrows which she throws towards heaven, which she plunges deeply into the heart of God. She is the spiritual priest through whose very pure hands the sacrifices of our good works must be presented to God who is so good and so great, in order that they not be rejected.” Leonis Mariale, 1651, ‘No 8. In Purificationem’, pp. 154-157.
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