Sr. Mc Bride Section

Mary, Mother of God Section 



       Sr. Thomas Mary Mc Bride, O.P.
Our Lady of Grace Monastery

            Our brother St. Thomas, perhaps the greatest light of the Dominican Order, was profoundly devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  His little known Marian thought has been gathered in a volume entitled
Saint Thomas Aquinas Meditations by Fr. P. D. Mezard, O.P.  These selections, “taken verbatum from Aquinas”,­ are arranged in the form of short readings to accompany the feasts and seasons of the liturgical year. [1]                

            In the Marian prayer of St. Thomas, which is always God-centered and in relation to Christ, we find an emphasis on petition, as well as on contemplation, and even mysticism.  This article will reflect these emphases in the light of the proposed fifth Marian dogma: Mary, Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of grace, and Advocate.  Careful scrutiny of St. Thomas shows that these titles of Our Lady can be found, in some form, integrated into the preaching and writing of the Angelic Doctor. 

            St. Thomas taught that the Blessed Virgin Mary “must be shown every honor, preached and praised, and invoked by us in our every need.” [2]  She was for him the Mediatrix of all grace.  “It is necessary,” St. Thomas tells us, “that whosoever desires to obtain favors with God, should approach this mediatrix, approach her with a most devout heart because, since she is the Queen of Mercy, possessing everything in the kingdom of God's justice, she cannot refuse your petition.” [3]  Making the thought of St. Bernard his own St. Thomas reflects that no refusal can exist in the presence of the exceeding charity of her pierced and immaculate heart together with the pierced side and wounds of her Son.  “Hence it is,” says St. Thomas, “that the Apostle speaking to the Hebrews (4:16) said, let us go therefore, with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid.  For of Mary it has been truly written, . . . In me is all grace of the way. . . . Therefore, come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits ” (Ecclus 24:24). [4] 

            Because the Holy Spirit has come upon her in the Incarnation Mary is the “Throne wherein the three Divine Persons recline . . . Wherefore the Blessed Virgin is more intimately associated with God than an angel is, in as much as with her are the Lord the Father, the Lord the Son, and the Lord the Holy Spirit; in a word, the whole Trinity.”  Therefore “she is called the noble Triclinium of the whole Trinity.  No greater praise could be given her, then than the words of the angel, the Lord is with Thee.” [5]

             In the mystery of the Incarnation the Lord himself entered into the womb of the Blessed Virgin, for she was the wonderful temple of God.  And now “every creature, yes even every malefactor who runs to it with his whole heart, will be saved and every prayer poured forth in it will be heard.” [6]

            “The blessed Virgin Mary received such intensity [of grace] that it brought her right next to the author of grace in order to receive him, who had full intensity of grace, into herself.  And by giving birth to him, she brought, in a certain way, grace to all” [quodammodo gratiam ad omnes derivaret]. [7]

            Whatever our difficulty, Thomas counsels prayer to Mary “for in every danger you can obtain salvation from this glorious Virgin [and] in every work of virtue you can have Mary as your helper [for] she truly says of herself, I am the Mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope.  In me is all hope of life and of virtue”(Ecclus 24:24). [8]

            In his Commentary on the Hail Mary, we can see traces of Mary as Co-redemptrix in that the Blessed Virgin Mary “was so full of grace that it overflows on to all mankind” and suffices for the salvation of the world.

It is, indeed, a great thing that any one saint has so much grace that it conduces to the salvation of many; but most wondrous is it to have so much as to suffice for the salvation of all mankind: and thus it is in Christ and in the Blessed Virgin. [9]

            St. Thomas, like the Fathers of the Church, saw numerous typologies of Mary in the Old Testament, typologies that depict Our Lady as co-redemptrix, mediatrix and advocate.  Contemplating the text, There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of this root (Is 11:1), St. Thomas saw Mary as the root wielding the true rod of saving grace. [10] 

            Our brother St. Thomas tells us that “Mary has divided the sea for us, that is the world, so that we might pass safely through it.  Lift up the rod, and stretch forth thy hands over the sea, and divide it; so that thy children . . . may go through the midst of the sea on dry ground ” (Ex 14:16).  Further, “she has brought to us the water of grace from the rock Christ so that we may drink freely of this life-saving water.  Take the rod . . . and speak to the rock before them, and it shall yield waters, and all the multitude shall drink”(Num 20:8). [11] 

            The figure of Judith was for St. Thomas another Marian typology, for in bringing forth Christ, the Virgin Mary purified God's people “and restored them to their original innocence.”  He believed that what was said of Judith, was said “on account of [Mary]: Thou art the glory of Jerusalem, thou art the honor of our people.  For thou hast done manfully, and thy heart has been strengthened, because thou hast loved chastity. . . .  Therefore, the hand of the Lord hast strengthened thee, and therefore,  thou shalt be blessed forever.” [12] 

            Esther in the thought of St. Thomas, corresponds to Mary’s role as Co-redemptrix.  “The truth corresponding to [the] figure of [Esther]” is the story of Mary's role in our redemption.  “Through queen Esther, that is, through the Blessed Virgin the sentence of damnation passed against us was revoked; namely through her intercession, through the extension of the King's golden sceptre to Mary and through her kiss on the top of that sceptre we are saved from hell and damnation. . . . Queen Esther, that is the Blessed Virgin, pleased the eyes of the King in helping to redeem the human race and she found favor in his presence, not only for herself, but for all mankind.” [13]  Therefore Mary “is our beloved because we ask grace and mercy through her divine clemency.  The King held out to her the golden sceptre (Esth 5:2); in which was shown the sign of mercy. . . . Mary is our beloved Queen, for through her power we are set free from the hands of all our enemies.  The Lord will send forth the sceptre of thy power [out of Zion].  Rule thou in the midst of thy enemies” (Ps 109 [110]:2). [14]

            In the contemplation of St. Thomas the virginal body of Mary as well as her soul overflowed with grace.  “The soul of the Blessed Virgin was so full of grace that it overflowed into her flesh thus fitting it for the conception of God's Son.” [15]  Her immaculate heart, her feelings, mind and will were all involved in the conception and care of her Son, just as it is in helping each of us conceive and bring forth Christ in our soul.  “For in every danger you can obtain salvation from this glorious Virgin: Thy neck is as the tower of David, which is built with bulwarks.  A thousand bucklers  hang upon it, all the armour of valiant men (Cant 4:4).  Likewise in every work of virtue you can have Mary as your helper and therefore, she truly says of herself, In me is all hope of life and of virtue” (Ecclus 24:24). [16]

            Mary, in the vision of St. Thomas is, next to her Son, “full of grace, surpassing the angels in that plenitude: for which reason she is rightly called ‘Mary,’ which signifies ‘enlightened’--in herself: The Lord will fill thy soul with brightness (Is 58:11) --and enlightening others throughout the world below: wherefore she is compared to the sun and the moon.” [17]                       

            Mary not only brings Christ to us, she brings us to Christ.  St. Thomas, in interpreting the mystical meaning of the wedding of Cana considers that Mary is present in the mystical marriage of the soul with God and that it is she who “arranges the marriage, because through her intercession, the soul is joined to Christ through grace.” [18]  St. Thomas points out that it was the fiat of Mary which allowed the spiritual marriage between the Son of God and human nature to take place.  In the plan of God Mary’s “yes” stood for the “yes” of all God’s people thereby making it possible for every person to pronounce his or her own fiat and attain intimate union with the divine nature. [19] 

            When St. Thomas asks, in the Summa Theologiae, whether God could have made things better than they are, he answers, surprisingly, yes.  But when it comes to the humanity of Christ, or the happiness of the beatific vision, or the dignity of the blessed Virgin Mary, he answers with what is perhaps the most beautiful words he ever wrote on Mary. The humanity of Christ, since it is united to the Godhead; the beatific vision, since it is the fruition of God; and the blessed Virgin, since she is the mother of God – all have a certain dignity from the infinite good, who is God.  And so therefore there cannot be anything better or more sublime. [20]

            St. Thomas calls Mary mediatrix and consolatrix [21] and in his prayer he entrusts his entire person to the intimacy of her pure, grace-filled and loving heart.  According to St. Thomas the prayer of petition is an affair of the practical reason.  The Saints, above all, are conscious of their spiritual poverty and need of help on their reditus back to God.  St. Thomas wrote a prayer to the most Blessed Virgin Mary expressing his own need for help and dependence upon her as his mediatrix, advocate and co-redemptrix.  From this prayer, several pages in length, there follows a  few excerpts:

            O most blessed and sweet Virgin Mary,

                        Mother of God, filled with all tenderness,

                        Daughter of the most high King,

                        Lady of the Angels,

                        Mother of all the faithful,

            On this day and all the days of my life,

                        I entrust to your merciful heart

                        my body and my soul,

                        all my acts, thoughts, choices,

                        desires, words, deeds,

                        my entire life and death,

            So that, per tua suffragia,

                        all may be ordered to the good

                        according to the will of your beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. . . .

            Be to me,

                        my most holy Lady,

                        adjutrix et consolatrix

                                    contra insidias et laqueos

                                                hostis antiqui

                                                et omnium inimicorum meorum.

            From your beloved Son . . .

                        request for me the grace to resist firmly

                        the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil . . .           

            My most holy Lady,

                        I also beseech you to obtain for me

                                    true obedience and true humility of heart

            So that I may recognize myself truly

                        as a sinner--wretched and weak--

            and powerless,

                        without the grace and help of my Creator

                                    et sanctis precibus tuis . . .

            Obtain for me as well,

                        O most sweet Lady,

                                    true charity with which

                                                from the depths of my heart

                                    I may love your most holy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,

                                    and, after Him,

                                                love you above all other things . . .

            Fac etiam, O Regina caeli,

                        that ever in my heart

                                    I may have fear and love alike

                                                for your most sweet Son . . .

            I pray also that, at the end of my life,


                                    Mater unica

                                    caeli porta,

                                    et peccatorum advocata . . .

                                    will protect me with your great piety and mercy . . .

            Ac in benedicta Filii tui gloriosa passione

                        et in tua propria intercessione 

                                                spe accepta,

                                    veniam de peccatis meis ab eo

                                                            mihi impetres;

            When I die in your love and His love,

                        may you direct me

                                    into the way of salvation and blessedness. 

                                                                                                                        Amen. [22]


Saint Thomas Aquinas Meditations, For Every Day, selected by P.D. Mezard, O.P., adapted and trans. from the Latin by E. C. Mc Eniry, O.P., new and revised ed. (Columbus,Ohio: College Book Co., 1941).  These selections are culled mostly from the Summa Theologiae, as well as from his Commentary on the Angelic Salutation, Namely the Hail Mary!, and his Commentaries on Sacred Scripture (See Preface).    

2. Ibid., p. 416.

3. Ibid., p. 411.

4. Ibid., pp. 416-7.

5. St. Thomas Aquinas, The Three Greatest Prayers: Commentary on the Angelic Salutation, Namely the Hail Mary!, p. 33;  St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, vol. 51, Our Lady, ed. and trans. with Appendices by T. R. Heath, O.P. (N.Y.: Blackfriars-McGraw Hill, 1969), Appendix 1, p. 101.

6. Saint Thomas Aquinas Meditations, p. 94.

7. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, 3a. 27, 5, ad 1.   See also St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, vol. 51, Our Lady, Appendix 1, p. 95.

8. St. Thomas Aquinas Meditations, p.103.  See also St. Thomas Aquinas, The Three Greatest Prayers: Commentary on the Angelic Salutation, Namely the Hail Mary!, p. 33.

9. St. Thomas Aquinas, The Three Greatest Prayers: Commentaries on the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Apostles' Creed, trans. Laurence Shapcote, O.P. with intro. by Thomas Gilby, O.P. (Westminster, Maryland: The Newman Press, 1956), Commentary on the Angelic Salutation, Namely, the Hail Mary!, p. 32. See also Saint Thomas Aquinas Meditations, p.102.   

10. St. Thomas Aquinas Meditations, p. 102.

11. Ibid.

12. Ibid. p. 386.

13. Ibid., p. 24.

14. Ibid., p.103.

15. St. Thomas Aquinas, The Three Greatest Prayers: Commentary on the Angelic Salutation, Namely, the Hail Mary!, p. 32.

16. Saint Thomas Aquinas Meditations, p.103.

17. St. Thomas Aquinas, The Three Greatest Prayers: Commentary on the Angelic Salutation, Namely, the Hail Mary!, p. 33.

18. St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on John, ed. James A. Weisheipl, O.P. (Albany, N.Y.: Magi Books, Inc., 1980), 1,10, n. 201, p. 98; and 2,1, n. 336, 338, and 343, pp. 151-152.

19. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, 3a. 30, 1.

20. Ibid., 1a. 25, 6 ad 4.  See also St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, vol. 51, Our Lady, Appendix 1, p. 95.

21. St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on John, 2,1, n. 344, p. 152.   See also St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, vol. 51, Our Lady, Appendix 1, p. 94.

22. St. Thomas Aquinas, Devoutly I Adore Thee, trans. and ed. by Robert Anderson and Johann Moser (Manchester, New Hampshire: Sophia Institute Press, 1933), "Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas to the Blessed Virgin", pp. 21-31.

This Version: 13th December 2002

Copyright ©; Sr. Thomas Mary McBride, O.P. 2002


Sr. Mc Bride Section

Mary, Mother of God Section