CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP
AND THE DISCIPLINE OF THE SACRAMENTS
ON THE CELEBRATION
OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY MOTHER OF THE CHURCH
IN THE GENERAL ROMAN CALENDAR
The joyous veneration given to the Mother of God by the contemporary Church,
in light of reflection on the mystery of Christ and on his nature, cannot ignore
the figure of a woman (cf. Gal 4:4), the Virgin Mary, who is both the Mother of
Christ and Mother of the Church.
In some ways this was already present in the mind of the Church from the
premonitory words of Saint Augustine and Saint Leo the Great. In fact the former
says that Mary is the mother of the members of Christ, because with charity she
cooperated in the rebirth of the faithful into the Church, while the latter says
that the birth of the Head is also the birth of the body, thus indicating that
Mary is at once Mother of Christ, the Son of God, and mother of the members of
his Mystical Body, which is the Church. These considerations derive from the
divine motherhood of Mary and from her intimate union in the work of the
Redeemer, which culminated at the hour of the cross.
Indeed, the Mother standing beneath the cross (cf. Jn 19:25), accepted her
Son’s testament of love and welcomed all people in the person of the beloved
disciple as sons and daughters to be reborn unto life eternal. She thus became
the tender Mother of the Church which Christ begot on the cross handing on the
Spirit. Christ, in turn, in the beloved disciple, chose all disciples as
ministers of his love towards his Mother, entrusting her to them so that they
might welcome her with filial affection.
As a caring guide to the emerging Church Mary had already begun her mission
in the Upper Room, praying with the Apostles while awaiting the coming of the
Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14). In this sense, in the course of the centuries,
Christian piety has honoured Mary with various titles, in many ways equivalent,
such as Mother of Disciples, of the Faithful, of Believers, of all those who are
reborn in Christ; and also as “Mother of the Church” as is used in the texts of
spiritual authors as well as in the Magisterium of Popes Benedict xiv and Leo xiii.
Thus the foundation is clearly established by which Blessed Paul vi, on 21
November 1964, at the conclusion of the Third Session of the Second Vatican
Council, declared the Blessed Virgin Mary as “Mother of the Church, that is to
say of all Christian people, the faithful as well as the pastors, who call her
the most loving Mother” and established that “the Mother of God should be
further honoured and invoked by the entire Christian people by this tenderest of
Therefore the Apostolic See on the occasion of the Holy Year of
Reconciliation (1975), proposed a votive Mass in honour of Beata Maria
Ecclesiæ Matre, which was subsequently inserted into the Roman Missal. The
Holy See also granted the faculty to add the invocation of this title in the
Litany of Loreto (1980) and published other formularies in the Collection of
Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary (1986). Some countries, dioceses and religious
families who petitioned the Holy See were allowed to add this celebration to
their particular calendars.
Having attentively considered how greatly the promotion of this devotion
might encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in the pastors,
religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety, Pope
Francis has decreed that the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the
Church, should be inscribed in the Roman Calendar on the Monday after Pentecost
and be now celebrated every year.
This celebration will help us to remember that growth in the Christian life
must be anchored to the Mystery of the Cross, to the oblation of Christ in the
Eucharistic Banquet and to the Mother of the Redeemer and Mother of the Redeemed,
the Virgin who makes her offering to God.
The Memorial therefore is to appear in all Calendars and liturgical books for
the celebration of Mass and of the Liturgy of the Hours. The relative liturgical
texts are attached to this decree and their translations, prepared and approved
by the Episcopal Conferences, will be published after confirmation by this
Where the celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, is
already celebrated on a day with a higher liturgical rank, approved according to
the norm of particular law, in the future it may continue to be celebrated in
the same way.
Anything to the contrary notwithstanding.
From the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the
Sacraments, 11 February 2018, the memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of
Cardinal Robert Sarah
+ Arthur Roche