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Jacques le Vasseur. 1610 AD

Jacques le Vasseur

1610 AD

Diva Virgo, printed by Julien Jacquin, Paris 1622.

The title of the booklet introduces the author: ‘The Divine Virgin of Moyenpont [=pilgrims' shrine] . . . . through the pious research of, and in fulfilment of a vow by, Jacob Le Vasseur, doctor of theology, formerly Archdeacon, now Dean and Canon of the illustrious Church of the Blessed Virgin of Noyon, ecclesiastical judge in the episcopal offices of that city.’

In chapter 22, he raises the question: “Should the Blessed Virgin be called a Bishop?” All the excerpts quoted are from this chapter.

Texts quoted in French by Réné Laurentin (in Maria, Ecclesia, Sacerdotium, Nouvelles Éditions Latines, Paris 1952, pp. 162-164) and translated into English by John Wijngaards. Italics by John Wijngaards.

Mary performed the substance of the Bishop’s ministry

‘If it so clearly belongs to the honour of the Bishop to make the Body of Christ with solemn words and if the Bishop pleads with God for the sinner, will the Virgin who was the most predestined to do this, be deprived of the title although she abundantly achieves the substance of that office?’ Diva Virgo, ch. 22, p. 171.

‘She who produced the body of Christ, she who offered Christ . . . . . the empress of heaven, the builders of the bridges that lead to heaven, will she not be ‘Pontifex’ [Latin for Bishop, literally ‘bridge builder’]?’ Diva Virgo, ch. 22, p. 180.

Mary is a high priest according to the definition in Hebrews

‘He (our high priest) can eternally save those who go to God through him, because he lives always to intercede in our favour. Such is the high priest that we needed: holy, innocent, without fault, without anything in common with sinners, elevated to this up into the heavens. And he has no need, as other high priests, to offer sacrifices everyday for his own personal sins before doing this for the sins of his people (Heb 7, 25-27).... Apart from her sex, we can say almost all this about the mother of God.’ Diva Virgo, ch. 22, p. 171.

Mary did offer the body of Christ as a sacrifice

“But”, one might say, “The Virgin does not offer the body of Christ as a sacrifice.”
Then what did she do at her conception ? and when in the Temple ? and what does she do everyday in heaven ? God the Father offered Christ to the Virgin before her conception, through the mediation of the angel -- will she not offer him, once he has been born, to God the Father?
Moreover, if Jewish impiety had refrained from crucifying Christ and putting him to death, because the devil wanted to hinder the salvation of the world, who would have fulfilled the order of the Father if not the Virgin herself ? Is it not just she who without any doubt would have offered the bloody sacrifice of her son with her own hands?
And now what more would you demand of her for us to attribute her the episcopacy?’Diva Virgo, ch. 22, p. 172.

Mary is a Bishop, apart from anything masculine in that office

‘Whatever there is of dignity in the dignity of a bishop, I do not refuse to give to the Mother. Because of her sex and her modesty I am not attributing to her whatever masculine there is in this office; I only withhold from her whatever is pure worry and obstacle to contemplation, and I can concede her with liberality and generosity every grandeur, even the highest grandeur which the effort of the human spirit could imagine.’ Diva Virgo, ch. 22, p. 176.

Note. In the rest of the chapter le Vasseur shows that Mary has the power of government [jurisdiction], the power of teaching [magisterium], the apostolic ministry and prophetic gifts contained in the Bishop’s office. These are not the ‘masculine element’ he talks about.

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