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Bishops and Cardinals' pronouncements on Mary Priest

Bishops and Cardinals

Note. This is a compilation of pronouncements by prominent Church leaders in the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th (until 1914). It is by no means an exhaustive list.

Most of these texts are quoted in French by Réné Laurentin (in Maria, Ecclesia, Sacerdotium, Nouvelles Éditions Latines, Paris 1952, pp. 509-521) and have been translated into English by John Wijngaards.


Cardinal Maury

On Calvary Mary was a priest, who offered Jesus.

“ She stood! I see Mary standing upright on the sacred mountain as each sacrificing priest should be at the altar.....
She stood! I see her upright at the foot of the cross where she represents the Church, where, as the only one to understand the mystery unfolding itself, she held in her heart the faith of both the old and the new covenant; where, faithful to this sacred tradition, she reaffirmed her faith by the same spectacle that upset, confused, scandalised the apostles, since she partook in some sort in the chalice and eternal priesthood of her Son, offering herself as she did as holocaust . . . .
She stood! What a priest she was, what sacrifice!”
Révue mensuelle du culte de Marie, 8 (1891) p. 77.


Cardinal Wiseman

At the foot of the cross Mary was priestess.

“Yes, she stood upright at the foot of the cross, and that was so that she could make a public and voluntary sacrifice of all that is dear to her heart for the sake of lost humanity . . . .
So she becomes, in as far as it is possible, cooperator with God in his grand work: she became priestess, she who was authorised to perform on the part of humanity, the holocaust of a beloved child.”
Sermons on our Lord Jesus Christ and his Blessed Mother, New York 1866, p. 364.


Cardinal Pius

On Calvary Mary was linked to Jesus’ priesthood. “I place the workings of this assembly . . . under the patronage of the co-redemptrix on Calvary who was associated to the priesthood and sacrifice of the Lamb.” Pastoral Instruction to the Clergy, on the occasion of the 4th Synod of the province of Bordeaux, 25 August 1859.
“Mary is involved in redemption. She stands upright at the foot of the cross, upright in the posture of a sacrificer [=sacrificial priest].” L.E. Pie, La Vierge Marie, Paris 1881, p. 303.
Mary is Virgin Priest. “I have rejoiced to see this glorious title of Virgo Sacerdos [=Virgin Priest] vindicated, a title which the growing devotion of the last centuries has built up on a text of ecclesiastical antiquity, then hallowed by the authority of our great Pope Pius IX! It will give a new impulse to the devotion to the priestly Virgin, to Mary Mother of the clergy and Mother of priests.” Letter to Fr. van den Berghe, in 1875.

Cardinal Vannutelli

Mary did not receive the sacramental character of the priesthood, but was Virgin Priest. “[Theologians . . . ] have interpreted with knowledge and piety the thoughts of the Doctors of the Church relating to the mystical priesthood of Mary, and these thoughts are like a concert of praise to our majestic Queen. Without having been invested with the priestly character, Mary was so closely associated with the sacrifice of the eternal Priest that the Fathers of the Church called her Virgo Sacerdos [Virgin Priest] and the Brief of our great Pope Pius IX accepts and hallows that glorious title. I too salute this divine Queen of the Priesthood.” L. Laplace, La Mère Marie de Jésus Deluil-Martiny, Lyon 1906, pp. 407-408.
  [about a painting of Mary in priestly vestments] “Yes, this is truly the Virgin Priest . . . ! She is the Virgin who has cooperated in the great work of Redemption, associate in the divine sacrifice, offering her divine Son for the salvation of the world!” Les fêtes mariales et le congrès marial. Juillet 1904, Namur 1905, pp. 356-361.

Cardinal Vivés y Tuto

  “Oh Immaculate Virgin, who has been called ‘Virgin Priest’ because, as St. Antoninus the Bishop of Florence testifies, you are filled with all dignity and grace found in the priesthood . . . .
Oh Immaculate Virgin, whom the most holy Doctors celebrate as the Mother of our High Priest Jesus Christ, as Priest and altar at once, since you yourself provided the table, you have given us the heavenly bread which is Jesus Christ . . . . ” Les fêtes mariales et le congrès marial. Juillet 1904, Namur 1905, pp. 412.

Cardinal Mercier

Mary was on Calvary as a priest at the altar. “During the hour when her Son is in mortan agony, she is there, as mother at the foot of the gibbet on which her Son hangs crucified. She stands upright as a priest at the altar . . . . While offering her Son, there is also something of herself that she sacrifices to God . . . . She is co-redemptrix.” Cardinal D.J.Mercier, La médiation universelle de la tout Sainte Vierge, Louvain 1925, p. 11.

Cardinal C.L. Place

On Calvary Mary acted as priest. “Mary on Calvary stood erect, as a sacrificer, as a priest at the altar, Virgo Sacerdos, offering in her heart the Victim of the world.” Cardinal C.L.Laplace, Marie, mère des graces, Rennes 1884, p. 13.

Cardinal Gennari

Mary is a pure, holy, immaculate priest. “Mary is not emotionally upset . . . She does not weep because she is performing a ministry. She joins in offering to God the sacrifice which will bring salvation to people. That is why the Fathers give her the title of co-redemptrix . . . . That is why they call her, with St. Epiphanius, the ‘priestess of justice’. Yet, Mary’s sacrificial act presupposes her Immaculate Conception, the latter being the necessary condition of the former: the priest must be pure, holy, immaculate.” C.Gennari, L‘Immacolata concepimento di Maria, Roma 1903, p. 122.

Bishop Morelle

Mary was the first priest who consecrated, sacrificed, and dispensed holy communion. “Mary is no stranger in anything that belongs to the Eucharist. She was the first priest to call down the Word from heaven to earth and to bring forth Jesus Christ in this world through an act of her will. Therefore she has been called Virgin Priest, Virgo Sacerdos . . . .
Just as she has been the first priest to bring forth Jesus Christ, she will be the first priest to offer him. She was the first sacrificer as she had been the first consecrator . . . .
On top of the holy mount of Calvary, she stays upright in the posture of a sacrificer standing before the altar, that is: the cross, where the first Mass is celebrated and where are redemption was accomplished . . . .
The Virgin Priest who has given us the Eucharist, the Virgin Sacrificer who has validated Mass for us, is also the Virgin of holy communion.” ‘Lettre de Mgr l‘évèque de Saint-Brieuc au clergé’, in Troisième congrès marial breton, Saint-Brieuc 1911, pp. xiv-xvi.

Bishop Nazlian

Mary is a priest of the new covenant. “Mary is also something greater than temples or tabernacles, . . . she is priest. What do we mean with a priest of the new covenant? A priest has the power to mystically produce the body of the Lord giving that body its sacramental form . . . . I allow myself to say that Mary is to first to say Mass, by agreeing to the Incarnation and so preparing the victim . . .
Mary fulfils in advance the sacrifice of the cross by preparing what is required for it . . . . More than any priest she can point at her cruficied Son and say: ‘This is my body!’ Mary is therefore not a priest who does not share in the sacrifice, but a priest who puts herself into the victim who is the heavenly bread.” Actes du 25e congrès eucharistique international, Lourdes 1914, pp. 9-10.

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