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Nineteenth Century Theologians and Writers on Mary as Priest

Nineteenth Century Theologians and Writers

Texts quoted in French by Réné Laurentin (in Maria, Ecclesia, Sacerdotium, Nouvelles Éditions Latines, Paris 1952, pp. 393-402; 410-415) and translated into English by John Wijngaards.


P. J. de Clorivière SJ

Mary was bishop and sacrificial priest.

“ Mary kept herself upright. One does not see her weep. It is because she fulfilled then the office of bishop and sacrificial priest and it was not right for her to display signs of weakness while performing that office. Jesus Christ is the true sacrificial priest, and if he had not freely sacrificed himself, no one would have dared attack his life. But since he had voluntarily put himself into the state of being a victim, he could not at the same time publicly assume the role of bishop and sacrificial priest. This title belongs neither to the executioners who crucified him, nor to the Jewish priests, nor to the Jewish people whose ministers they were.... Only Mary, in the face of heaven and earth performed publicly the office of sacrificial priest and bishop.” ‘Commentaire sur l‘Apocalypse’ in Marie, C. Dillenschneider, 1947, p. 136.


Fr. F.W.Faber

Mary’s priesthood consisted in the ministry of the Incarnation.

“Mary was the minister of the Incarnation: that explains everything. She had as little the right to come down from Calvary as a priest would have to leave the altar while the sacrifice of Mass is going on. It was an unfortunate coincidence of dates. On one March the 25th, she had given Christ his precious blood; on another March 25th she had to perform her ministry while his blood was being poured out. She had to lay him down in the tomb after having laid him down in the manger. She had to preside over the completion, as she had presided over its beginning . . . . Her priesthood consisted in her continuous ministry to him.” The Foot of the Cross, London 1857, p. 399.


Fr. Philpin de Rivière


“Adam had to establish relationships between the spiritual and material worlds . . . It was the great liturgy of innocence. When he fell from his royal priesthood, he retained only its meagre shadow . . . Our Lord wanted that Mary receive the full heritage of heaven’s priesthood and that she become the link between the two priesthoods . . . She possesses eminently all of value contained in humanity and fulfils all contained in the priesthood of the eternal love of her Son.” Union de Marie au fidèle, Paris 1861, pp. 262-267.


“ No creature has ever shared in the priesthood of Jesus Christ as this queen of the apostles and of the clergy . . . . The reason why one hardly ever speaks of her priesthood is that she is always so close to the great High Priest, in whose presence all shared priesthood disappears and vanishes as a star before the sun.
If Mary’s priesthood disappears and loses its name in face of the eternal priesthood, it is not a real loss. It comes from a fusion of heart and mind in the one unique sacrifice.”
Union de Marie au fidèle, Paris 1861, pp. 265, 301.


Mr. Auguste Nicolas

Mary acted truly as a sacrificial priest.

“In the incarnation Mary was as it were the altar on which the victim was laid down and on which he was kindled through the flame of her love; at the presentation, she has become as the priest who in fact offered her; and at the redemption as the sacrificial priest who immolated him.” La Vierge Marie d’après l‘Évangile, Paris 1858, p. 295.

Jesus extended his own priesthood to Mary.

“In truth it is the Son of God himself who is the priest and the sacrificer just as he is himself the victim, but together with Mary. He shared with her his character of being a priest and of being a victim which he communicated to her through an extension of his own priesthood, through the anointing of his grace and even through the imprint of the priestly character, not in a formal sense, but more eminently than the priestly character possessed by all other priests, so that she could cooperate with him in a more noble and excellent way for the reconciliation of sinners.” La Vierge Marie d’après l‘Évangile, Paris 1858, p. 295.


Fr. H. Perreyve

In the Temple Mar offered Jesus, as a priest offers him at Mass.

“I look at you once more, Mary, and I believe to see in you an even greater figure than that of ancient Israel. You are the Church. Just as the Catholic priesthood will carry in its consecrated hands the body of the divine child and will offer it to the Father as a very holy and pure sacrifice, so you too, as the first are offering this dear Saviour in the Temple.” Sermons, Paris 1876, pp. 268-269.


Fr. F. Ambrosj

Mary is priestess.

“Christ is priest and victim. Mary is priestess and victim with him. Both offer the same sacrifice.” Discorsi teologico-morali in lode di Maria Vergine, Ascoli 1843, vol.1, pp. 142-143.


Fr. J.M.Raynaud

On Calvary, Mary was priest.

“ Mary stands upright. Why? . . . There is a mystery here. It is that Mary is not only witness to Jesus’ death. She is also priest, the first to offer the divine victim who sacrifices himself for us. The cross, well, it is the altar. Jesus, well, he is the victim. Do not search for the priest. It is Mary!” Marie modèle. Station du mois de Mai, Toulouse 1843, vol.n 2, pp. 251-252.


Fr. H. Oswald

Mary is a priestess.

“ Mary is priestess for she represented in the work of Redemption of her sex -- though in full dependence on the universal representation by Christ. But the priesthood of Mary is limited to her person. There is no other woman to succeed her and carry on her special task . . . It is therefore the male priest who, in his ordination, has received Mary’s share. But he has received it in favour of women evidently, rather than for his own advantage. In a word, this link affects the priesthood so that the priest, the representative and minister of Christ, is also similarly and at the same time minister of Mary, instrument of Mary for her sex. So, the dignity and meaning of the priesthood stands in a new light from a mariological perspective.” Dogmatische Mariologie, Paderborn 1850, p. 198.


Fr. F. Coulin

Jesus offered himself through Mary, the priest.

“Mary saw Jesus, the first priest of the new covenant, offer himself through her . . . Which priest was more worthy than Mary to offer her help in presenting this rich offering?” L‘annnée du pieux fidèle, Lyon 1852, p. 411.

Fr. Hubert Lebon

Mary shares in Jesus’ priestly character.

“Mary shares . . . in Jesus’ character as priest and victim which her son communicates to her. Her hands are the altar. Her submission fulfils the task of the priest and her heart is the victim of sacrifice and love.” Marie, mére admirable, Paris 1861, p. 98.


Fr. J.B.Lemarchal

Mary was priestess on Calvary.

“Not satisfied in having produced from her substance the victim that was required, in having nourished him and brought him up, did Mary not fully realise that she was preparing him for sacrifice? Did she not come to [Calvary] to be priestess jointly with her dear Son? Did she not want to sanction this immolation by her presence at the foot of the cross, an immolation which she would have performed with her own hands if God had required this of her, as Anselm tells us?” Paraphrase des litanies de la sainte Vierge formant trois mois de Marie, Thonnelle 1867, p. 110.


Fr. J.B. Petitalot SJ

Mary’s priestly dignity is contained in her dignity as Mother of God, even without sacramental ordination.

“ Women are excluded from this dignity of the priesthood, and Mary herself, because of her sex, cannot receive it. If one can give her the name of priest, it is not because she has been ordained by the apostles, it is because the priestly dignity is contained in an eminent manner in her dignity as mother of God. Her divine motherhood gave her the right to fulfil certain functions of the priesthood. And she fulfilled them in actual fact, for example when she presented Jesus in the Temple and especially when she offered him on Calvary for our salvation. She certainly possessed the grace which makes priests, but without the power to offer the body and blood of her Son of her adorable Son on the altar.” La Vierge Marie d‘après la theologie, Paris 1876, pp. 60-61.


Mgr. J.B.Caussette

Mary is priest.

“First of all, I tell you: Mary is victim of his sacrifice, and secondly: Mary is priest or rather priestess of his sacrifice.” Encyclopédie de la prédication contemporaine, Marseille 1884, vol. 11, p. 212.


Mgr. Sp. Marmien

On Calvary Mary stood as a sacrifical priest.

“On Calvary, Jesus is the sacrificer, the most worthy and dignified priest . . . Well, Mary shows herself in everything similar to her Son. She is there, standing up straight, in the posture of a sacrificing priest.” Encyclopédie de la prédication contemporaine, Marseille 1884, vol. 11, p. 604.

Mary is Virgo Sacerdos.

“Mary kept herself straight. She stood! As a priest at the altar of the sacrifice, she immolated this great victim of the world: she is Virgo-Sacerdos.” Encyclopédie de la prédication contemporaine, Marseille 1884, vol. 12, p. 167.


Fr. J. de Ravignan

Mary is the High Priest of Redemption.

“Yes, Mary is here as the high priest of the redemption, placed under her own Son the true Pontiff. She offers him. She makes him her victim.” Encyclopédie de la prédication contemporaine, Marseille 1884, vol. 11, p. 208.


Fr. C. E. Berseaux

On Calvary Mary acted as a sacrificial priest.

“ She stood . . . she is in the attitude of a person who is fulfilling a function. And which function did Mary fulfil? The function of a sacrificial priest. Entering into the plans of the eternal Father, she offers up the victim who will liberate the world . . . She hands him over. She offers him mystically while he is sacrificed in reality; she represents humanity which must offer the sacrifice of Christ, together with Christ. She represents the priesthood which, every day, offers the holy victim, in such a manner that she has been as if it were the first priest, the first sacrificer . . . ” Dictionnaire de Théologie catholique, Paris 1822, vol. 2, p. 793-794.

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