Queen of Heaven
Queen of Heaven and Earth, Holy Queen
Venerated inCatholic Church, Anglican Communion, some Lutheran churches, Eastern Orthodoxy
Feast22 August (General Roman Calendar), 31 May (General Roman Calendar of 1960)
AttributesThe Blessed Virgin Mary crowned by the Holy Trinity, crown of stars, flowers
PatronageHeaven, eternal salvation to humankind, redemption

Queen of Heaven (Latin: Regina Caeli) is a title given to the Virgin Mary, by Christians mainly of the Catholic Church and, to a lesser extent, in Anglicanism,[1][2][3][4] Lutheranism,[5][6] and Eastern Orthodoxy. The title has long been a tradition, included in prayers and devotional literature and seen in Western art in the subject of the Coronation of the Virgin from the High Middle Ages, long before it was given a formal definition status by the Church.

The Catholic teaching on this subject is expressed in the papal encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam, issued by Pope Pius XII in 1954. It states that Mary is called Queen of Heaven because her son, Jesus Christ, is the king of Israel and the heavenly king of the universe.[7] The Davidic tradition of Israel recognized the mother of the king as the queen mother of Israel.

Theological basis


Queen of Heaven (Latin: Regina Caeli) is one of many Queen titles used of Mary, mother of Jesus. The title derived in part from the ancient Catholic teaching that Mary, at the end of her earthly life, was bodily and spiritually assumed into heaven, and that she is there honored as Queen.[8]

Pius XII explained the theological reasons for her title of Queen in a radio message to Fatima of May 13, 1946, Bendito seja:

He, the Son of God, reflects on His heavenly Mother the glory, the majesty and the dominion of His kingship, for, having been associated to the King of Martyrs in the ... work of human Redemption as Mother and cooperator, she remains forever associated to Him, with a practically unlimited power, in the distribution of the graces which flow from the Redemption. Jesus is King throughout all eternity by nature and by right of conquest: through Him, with Him, and subordinate to Him, Mary is Queen by grace, by divine relationship, by right of conquest, and by singular choice [of the Father].[9]

In his 1954 encyclical Ad caeli reginam ("To the Queen of Heaven"), Pius XII asserts that Mary deserves the title because she is Mother of God, because she is closely associated as the New Eve with Jesus' redemptive work, because of her preeminent perfection and because of her intercessory power.[10] Ad caeli reginam states that the main principle on which the royal dignity of Mary rests is her Divine Motherhood ... So with complete justice St. John Damascene could write: "When she became Mother of the Creator, she truly became Queen of every creature."[11]

Biblical basis

A statue of Mary crowned with 12 stars, a reference to Revelation 12. Statue by Attard, Malta.

In the Hebrew Bible some Davidic kings had in their court a gebirah ("Great Lady") who was often their mother, and held great power as his advisor and an advocate to him. In 1 Kings 2:20, Solomon said to his mother Bathsheba, seated on a throne at his right, "Make your request, Mother, for I will not refuse you." William G. Most sees here a sort of type of Mary.[12]

In the New Testament, the title has several biblical sources. At the Annunciation, the archangel Gabriel announces that [Jesus] "... will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David. He will rule over the house of Jacob forever and his reign will be without end."(Luke 1:32) The biblical precedent in ancient Israel is that the mother of the king becomes the queen mother.[13] Mary's queenship is a share in Jesus’ kingship.[10]

Historical practice

Fra Angelico, c. 1434-35

The Catholic Church from the earliest times venerated the Queen of Heaven, according to Pius XII:

From the earliest ages of the Catholic Church a Christian people, whether in time of triumph or more especially in time of crisis, has addressed prayers of petition and hymns of praise and veneration to the Queen of Heaven and never has that hope wavered which they placed in the Mother of the Divine King, Jesus Christ; nor has that faith ever failed by which we are taught that Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, reigns with a mother's solicitude over the entire world, just as she is crowned in heavenly blessedness with the glory of a Queen.[14]

In the first three centuries of Christianity, Mary's queenship was popularized by the Transitus literature, that, according to Stephen Shoemaker, has its origins before the Council of Nicaea.[15] Origen of Alexandria called Mary "my Lady", in his Hom VII in Lucam (PG 13:1902D), which is a royal title.

In the fourth century, Ephrem the Syrian called Mary "Lady" and "Queen". Later Church fathers and doctors continued to use the title. Similarly, Gregory of Nyssa in his Sermo de Annuntiatione (PG 62: 766) called her "Lady" (δέσποιναν). This title also appears in many other early writers, e.g., Jerome, and Peter Chrysologus. The first Mariological definition and basis for the title of Mary Queen of Heaven developed at the Council of Ephesus, where Mary was defined to be the Mother of God. The members of the Council specifically approved this version against the opinion, that Mary is "only" the mother of Jesus. Nobody, they ruled, had participated in the life of her son more than Mary, who gave birth to the Son of God.[16]

The word "Queen" is common during and after the sixth century.[12] Hymns of the 11th to 13th centuries address Mary as queen: “Hail, Holy Queen,” “Hail, Queen of Heaven,” “Queen of Heaven”. The Dominican rosary and the Franciscan crown, as well as numerous invocations in Mary’s litany, celebrate her queenship.[10] For centuries she has been invoked as the Queen of Heaven.[17]

During the English Reformation, the title "Queen of Heaven", while eliminated from state-approved liturgy, became a symbol of resistance.[18]

Litany of Loreto

Rubens, 1609

She is invoked in the Litany of Loreto as:

Other titles


The Second Vatican Council in 1964 referred to Mary as Queen of the Universe.[20]

Liturgy of the Hours

Crowned statue of Our Lady of Sorrows, Warfhuizen, the Netherlands

Three of the four ancient Marian antiphons of the Liturgy of the Hours (the Salve Regina, the Ave Regina caelorum, the Alma Redemptoris Mater, and the Regina Caeli), address Mary as queen. These are prayed at different times of the year, at the end of Compline.

Salve Regina


Mary as Queen of Heaven is praised in the Salve Regina ("Hail Queen"), which is sung in the time from Trinity Sunday until the Saturday before the first Sunday of Advent. It is attributed to a German Benedictine monk, Hermann of Reichenau (1013–1054). Traditionally it has been sung in Latin, though many translations exist. In the Middle Ages, Salve Regina offices were held every Saturday.[21] In the 13th century, the custom developed to greet the Queen of Heaven with the Salve Regina, which is considered the oldest of the four Marian antiphons. As a part of the Catholic Reformation, the Salve Regina was prayed every Saturday by members of the Sodality of Our Lady, a Jesuit Marian association. The Hail Holy Queen is also the final prayer of the Rosary.

Ave Regina caelorum


The Ave Regina caelorum ("Hail, Queen of Heaven") is an early Marian antiphon, praising Mary, the Queen of Heaven. It is traditionally said or sung after each of the canonical hours of the Liturgy of the Hours. The prayer was once used after Compline, the final canonical hour of prayer before going to sleep, from the Feast of the Presentation (February 2) through the Wednesday of Holy Week. It is now used in the Liturgy of the Hours on the feast of the Assumption of Mary. The Ave Regina caelorum dates back in a different musical intonation to the 12th century.[22][full citation needed] Today's version is slightly different from a 12th-century intonation. The Ave Regina caelorum has four parts: Ave, Salve, Gaude and Vale (in English: hail, rejoice, farewell). It was used for processions in honour of the Queen of Heaven. The Ave Regina caelorum received numerous musical versions, a famous one of which was composed in 1773 by Joseph Haydn.[23][full citation needed]

Regina Caeli

Mary as the Queen of Heaven in Dante's Divine Comedy. Illustration by Gustave Doré.

The Regina Caeli ("Queen of Heaven") is an anthem of the Catholic Church which replaces the Angelus during Eastertide, the fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday.[24] It is named for its opening words in Latin. Of unknown authorship, the anthem has been traced back to the twelfth century. It was in Franciscan use, after Compline, in the first half of the thirteenth century.[25]

Different musical settings of the words were composed throughout the centuries by known and unknown composers. Not all attributions are correct, as an often quoted Regina Caeli by Joseph Haydn was not by him.[23]



The small and simple young girl of Nazareth became Queen of the world! This is one of the marvels that reveal God’s Heart. Of course, Mary’s queenship is totally relative to Christ’s kingship. He is the Lord whom after the humiliation of death on the Cross the Father exalted above any other creature in Heaven and on earth and under the earth (cf. Phil 2: 9-11). Through a design of grace, the Immaculate Mother was fully associated with the mystery of the Son: in his Incarnation; in his earthly life, at first hidden at Nazareth and then manifested in the messianic ministry; in his Passion and death; and finally, in the glory of his Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven ... Benedict XVI.[26]

The Queenship of Mary is commemorated in the last of the Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary—the Coronation of the Virgin as Queen of Heaven and Earth.[27]

Parishes and private groups often process and crown an image of Mary with flowers. This often is referred to as a "May Crowning". This rite may be done on solemnities and feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or other festive days, and offers the Church a chance to reflect on Mary’s role in the history of salvation.[28]

The Virgin has been called "Queen of France" since 1638 when, partly in thanksgiving for a victory over the Huguenots and also in hope of the birth of an heir after years of childless marriage, Louis XIII officially gave her that title. Siena, Tuscany, hails the Virgin as Queen of Siena, and annually observes the race and pageant called the "palio" in her honor.[29]

Mary was declared "Queen of Poland" by king John II Casimir during the Lwów Oath in the 17th century. Since then she is believed to save the country miraculously during Deluge, Partitions of Poland, Polish-Soviet War, World War II and the Polish People's Republic. The solemnity of Our Lady Queen of Poland is celebrated on 3 May.[30][31]

Feast of Queenship of Mary

The coronation of the Salus Populi Romani icon by Pope Pius XII in 1954

Queenship of Mary is a Marian feast day in the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church, created by Pope Pius XII. On 11 October 1954, the pontiff pronounced the new feast in his encyclical Ad caeli reginam. The feast was celebrated on May 31, the last day of the Marian month. The initial ceremony for this feast involved the crowning of the Salus Populi Romani icon of Mary in Rome by Pius XII as part of a procession in Rome.[32]

In 1969, Pope Paul VI moved the feast day to August 22, the former Octave day of the Assumption[10] in order to emphasize the close bond between Mary's queenship and her glorification in body and soul next to her Son. The Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Church states that "Mary was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen of the universe, that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son" (Lumen gentium, 59).[17]

The movement to officially recognise the Queenship of Mary was initially promoted by several Catholic Mariological congresses in Lyon, France; Freiburg, Germany; and Einsiedeln, Switzerland. Gabriel Roschini founded in Rome, Italy, an international society to promote the Queenship of Mary, Pro Regalitate Mariae.[33] Several popes had described Mary as Queen and Queen of Heaven, which was documented by Roschini. Pope Pius XII repeated the title in numerous encyclicals and apostolic letters, especially during World War II.[34][35][36][37][38][39]

Marian processions

Annual Grand Marian Procession through Downtown Los Angeles

In Los Angeles, California, a Marian procession took place annually for roughly the first 100 years following the founding of the city. In an attempt to revive the custom of religious processions, in September 2011 the Queen of Angels Foundation, founded by Mark Anchor Albert, inaugurated an annual "Grand Marian Procession" in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles' historic core.[40] This yearly procession, intended to coincide with the anniversary of the founding of the City of Los Angeles, begins outside of the parish of La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles which is part of the Los Angeles Plaza Historic District, better known as "La Placita". By way of city streets, the procession eventually terminates at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels where a public Rosary and Mass in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary are offered. Subsequent years have seen the involvement and participation of numerous chivalric, fraternal, and religious orders, parishes, lay groups, political figures, as well as other religious and civic organizations.[41]


Giacomo di Mino, 1340–1350
Earliest known (6th century) Roman depiction of Santa Maria Regina (Saint Mary the Queen). Santa Maria Antiqua church, Rome.

Early Christian art shows Mary in an elevated position. She carries her divine son in her hands, or holds him. The earliest known Roman depiction of Santa Maria Regina depicting Mary as a queen dates to the 6th century and is found in the modest church of Santa Maria Antiqua built in the 5th century in the Forum Romanum. Here Mary is unequivocally depicted as an empress.[42][43][44] As one of the earliest Roman Catholic Marian churches, this church was used by Pope John VII in the early 8th century as the see of the bishop of Rome. Also in the 8th century, the Second Council of Nicaea decreed that such pictures of Mary should be venerated.[16]

In the early 16th century, Protestant reformers began to discourage Marian art, and some like John Calvin or Zwingli even encouraged its destruction. But after the Council of Trent in the mid-16th century confirmed the veneration of Marian paintings for Catholics, Mary was often painted as a Madonna with crown, surrounded by stars, standing on top of the world or the partly visible moon. After the victory against the Turks at Lepanto, Mary is depicted as the Queen of Victory, sometimes wearing the crown of the Habsburg empire.[45] National interpretations existed in France as well, where Jean Fouquet painted the Queen of Heaven in 1450 with the face of the mistress of King Charles VII.[46] Statues and pictures of Mary were crowned by kings in Poland, France, Bavaria, Hungary and Austria,[46] sometimes apparently using crowns previously worn by earthly monarchs. A surviving small crown presented by Margaret of York seems to have been that worn by her at her wedding to Charles the Bold in 1463. A recent coronation was that of the picture of the Salus Populi Romani in 1954 by Pius XII. The veneration of Mary as queen continues into the 21st century, but artistic expressions do not have the leading role as in previous times.[46]

Artworks, including paintings, mosaics and carvings of the coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven, became increasingly popular from the 13th century onward. Works follow a set pattern, showing Mary kneeling in the heavenly court, and being crowned either by Jesus alone, or else by Jesus and God the Father together, with the Holy Spirit, usually in the form of a dove, completing the Trinity. The Coronation of Mary is almost entirely a theme of Western art. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, although Mary is often shown wearing a crown, the coronation itself never became an accepted artistic subject.[8]










See also



  1. ^ "On The Virgin Mary". The Anglican Catholic Church. Archived from the original on 2018-03-30. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
  2. ^ Greenacre, Roger (2013). Maiden, Mother and Queen: Mary in the Anglican Tradition. Hymns Ancient and Modern Ltd. p. 14. ISBN 9781848252783. Retrieved 20 August 2018.
  3. ^ Alchin, A.M., "Mary, Virgin and Mother: An Anglican Approach", Marian Library Studies, vol.1, article 7, 1969
  4. ^ "The Virgin Mary, Our Lady, Queen of Heaven…". The Episcopal Church. Archived from the original on 2018-03-30. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
  5. ^ "Lyngsjö kyrka". 5 July 2023.
  6. ^ Karkan, Betsy. "Luther’s Love for St. Mary, Queen of Heaven", LutheranReformation.org
  7. ^ Pope Pius XII, Ad Caeli Reginam, 11 October 1954, Dicastero per la Comunicazione
  8. ^ a b Otto, John, ed. (1985). Dictionary of Mary. New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co. pp. 283–284.
  9. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis 38. 266
  10. ^ a b c d Foley, Leonard. Saint of the Day, Lives, Lessons, and Feast, Franciscan Media ISBN 978-0-86716-887-7
  11. ^ Ad Caeli Reginam, §34.
  12. ^ a b Most, William G. "Mary's Queenship", Our Lady in Doctrine and Devotion, 1994
  13. ^ Taylor Marshall, The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity, Saint John Press, 2009 ISBN 978-0-578-03834-6 page 41
  14. ^ Ad Caeli Reginam, §1.
  15. ^ Shoemaker, Stephen (2016). Mary in Early Christian Faith and Devotion. Yale University Press. p. 24.
  16. ^ a b Fastenrath & Tschochner 1991, p. 590.
  17. ^ a b c "On the Queenship of Mary". ZENIT - English. 2012-08-22. Retrieved 2021-09-14.
  18. ^ Grindlay, Lilla. Queen of Heaven, Notre Dame Press. 2018 ISBN 9780268104092
  19. ^ Pope Paul VI, "Christi Matris", §8, September 15, 1966
  20. ^ Lumen gentium, Chapter 8, Section 59.
  21. ^ Marienlexikon, 648
  22. ^ C Bernt Marienlexikon 321
  23. ^ a b Haydn, in Marienlexikon, 88
  24. ^ Normae universales de anno liturgico et de calendario, 22
  25. ^ Henry, Hugh. "Regina Coeli (Queen of Heaven)." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 21 August 2023 Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  26. ^ "Celebrating Mary’s Queenship of Heaven and Earth", The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, August 22, 2020
  27. ^ "Glorious Mysteries", Vatican
  28. ^ Lewis, Suzaanne M. "Crowning an Image of the Blessed Virgin Mary", Pastoral Liturgy
  29. ^ "The Queenship of Mary", Queen of Angels foundation
  30. ^ Brockhaus, Hannah. "Polish parliament recognizes coronation of Mary as nation's queen", Catholic News Agency, January 18, 2017
  31. ^ "Spokesman of the Polish Episcopate: Mary wanted to be called the Queen of Poland", Polish Bishops' Conference, March 5, 2019
  32. ^ "Religion: The Queenship of Mary". Time, November 8, 1954.
  33. ^ Fastenrath & Tschochner 1991, p. 591.
  34. ^ AAS 1942, 126,
  35. ^ AAS 1942 315,
  36. ^ AAS 1943, 248,
  37. ^ AAS 1943 38,
  38. ^ AAS 1946,266,
  39. ^ AAS 1950, 763,
  40. ^ Dellinger, Robert. "2011 ‘Grand Procession’ revives founding of L.A. Marian devotion", The TidingsOnline, September 6, 2011
  41. ^ Hoffarth, Tom. "This year's Grand Marian Procession marks a time of celebration". Angelus News, August 31, 2018.
  42. ^ Erik Thunø, 2003 Image and relic: mediating the sacred in early medieval Rome ISBN 88-8265-217-3 page 34
  43. ^ Bissera V. Pentcheva, 2006 Icons and power: the Mother of God in Byzantium ISBN 0-271-02551-4 page 21
  44. ^ Anne J. Duggan, 2008 Queens and queenship in medieval Europe ISBN 0-85115-881-1 page 175
  45. ^ Fastenrath & Tschochner 1991, p. 595.
  46. ^ a b c Fastenrath & Tschochner 1991, p. 596.