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Moments of Mercy

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary


Mary is the Queen of Mercy. She shows us that God’s mercy knows no bounds.


“The Mighty One has done great things for me,
     and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
     from generation to generation.”
Luke 1:49–50


The Assumption of MaryThe Solemnity of the Assumption celebrates the Virgin Mary’s being “taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of Lords and conqueror of sin and death” (CCC 966).

The dogma of the Assumption was defined in 1950, but devotion to Mary assumed into heaven was practiced by the Church for centuries. In medieval times devotion to the Assumption and the queenship of Mary was especially strong. She was the most important saint helping the faithful build a fortress of protection against the evils of this world and the next.

When Mary was received into heaven by Christ, she began to participate in his power over heaven and earth. In medieval times, heaven was modeled after a feudal court, with Mary in the role of Queen Mother. As St. Peter Damian (1007–1072) wrote, “The greatest glory of the blessed in heaven is, after seeing God, the presence of this most beautiful Queen” (Virgin Wholly Marvelous, p. 106).

All over Europe believers appealed to Mary, while her relics and images filled cathedrals and country churches, pilgrims flocked to her shrines, prayers were offered in her honor, and mystery plays made her the central attraction. In miracle stories, Mary’s work for sinners would seem to move outside the law, making salvation possible for those who otherwise would not seem to have a chance. Mary was seen as the Queen of Mercy, as noted by St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153):
Why does the Church call Mary the “Queen of Mercy”? It is because we believe that she opens the abyss of the mercy of God to whomsoever she will, when she wills, and as she wills; so that there is no sinner, however great, who is lost if Mary protects him (Virgin Wholly Marvelous, p. 107).

In Misericordiae Vultus, the Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis also praises Mary’s role as the prime example of Divine Mercy: “She treasured divine mercy in her heart in perfect harmony with her Son Jesus. Her hymn of praise, sung at the threshold of the home of Elizabeth, was dedicated to the mercy of God which extends from ‘generation to generation’” (Luke 1:50).

So we, too, mourning and weeping in our own valley of tears may turn to our Mother of Mercy and most gracious advocate who intercedes for us every day so we may end our journey in the heart of Jesus.

Image: Assumption of Mary by Guido Reni [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Pope Francis

“At the foot of the Cross, Mary, together with John, the disciple of love, witnessed the words of forgiveness spoken by Jesus. This supreme expression of mercy towards those who crucified him shows us the point to which the mercy of God can reach. Mary attests that the mercy of the Son of God knows no bounds and extends to everyone, without exception. Let us address her in the words of the Salve Regina, a prayer ever ancient and ever new, so that she may never tire of turning her merciful eyes upon us, and make us worthy to contemplate the face of mercy, her Son Jesus.”
Misericordiae Vultus, Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, 11 April 2015

Mercy in Action

► Learn more about the feast of the Assumption and the readings of the day. 
► Review Marian prayers and other resources in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 


“Mother of Mercy be with us every day so we may share your compassion with others and arrive with all in the Father’s heavenly presence.”

David Supple, OSB (ed.) Virgin Wholly Marvelous. Still River, MA (1991).
Moments of Mercy

Moments of Mercy is a series brought to you by Loyola Press with issues celebrating feast days and saints of mercy throughout this Jubilee Year. Messages are based in Scripture and include the words of Pope Francis and suggestions for actions and prayers. 

Moments of Mercy is written by James Campbell, editor of The Joy of Discipleship by Pope Francis.

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