Mary as “queen mother,” which is a real thing

This last week I have been doing a lot of air travel, which is enjoyable only because it affords me the chance to read books without the spectre of distraction by the internet. (No, American, I will not pay $27.99 for an hour of in-flight WiFi.)

Art and Liturgy - Love Unveiled The Catholic Faith Explained by Dr Edward SriOne of the books I recently started is Love Unveiled: The Catholic Faith Explained by Dr. Edward Sri. Sri is a professor at the Augustine Institute in Denver, where, through a felicitous set of events, I am sitting now to write this post.

By the way, if you are in the Denver area, you ought to check out the Tolle Lege Coffee Shop, which is housed inside the Institute and makes some damn good coffee.

While reading Love Unveiled, I learned that our veneration of Mary, the Mother of God, is based on the ancient Jewish role of the Queen Mother.

Art and Liturgy - Santa Maria in Trastevere apse mosaic
Apse mosaic (13th c.) at Santa Maria in Trastevere. By Goldmund100Own work, CC BY 3.0,

These days, we think of a queen as a king’s wife. But things were a little more complicated for Ancient Jewish royalty.  1 Kings 11:3 tells us that King David had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Instead of choosing one of these women to become The Queen, this role was instead given to the king’s mother.

So, in 1 Kings 2:19, when Bathsheba goes to visit her son, King Solomon (remember, there was the whole rooftop incident with David, etc., after which she married him and they had a son, Solomon),

When Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, the king stood up to meet her, bowed down to her and sat down on his throne. He had a throne brought for the king’s mother, and she sat down at his right hand.

It must have been astonishing to see the king bow to another person (his mom), and then she is seated in a place of honor at his right hand.

If you are reading this blog, I probably don’t need to go further in explaining the obvious parallels between the role of the Davidic queen mother and its fulfillment in Mary of Nazareth.

Art and Liturgy - Queen Mother A Biblical Theology of Marys Queenship by Dr Edward SriFor more on this subject, you should pick up a copy of Dr. Sri’s book, Queen Mother: A Biblical Theology of Mary’s Queenship. I plan to read it myself soon.

Finally, while copying the link above I found a really neat Amazon comment, which I present here without comment since I am no Biblical scholar.

… [Sri does not address] Mary’s statement: “All generations will call me blessed” in her Magnificat (Lk 1:48), which – as many have noted – seems to draw upon Psalm 45:18, the context of which is a royal Davidic psalm that speaks of the King and Queen.

Also, Sri’s examination of Elizabeth’s response “How does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk 1:43) does not take into account Luke’s continual allusion to content of the Books of Samuel, and the New Ark typology employed in the Visitation. He focuses upon “the mother of my Lord” as a form of declaration that Mary is the Gebirah, when he could have gone further and shown the correspondence between this exclamation and David’s words: “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” (2 Sm 6:9). I find this allusion to be much more tenable than a more abstract declaration of Mary as Gebirah. However, this point could lead to Mary’s office as Gebirah if you take into account that in the ancient neighboring dynasties to Israel, the pagan Queen Mothers sat upon an ark that was carried in procession.

Pretty cool, huh? The feast of the Coronation of Our Lady is August 22.

One comment

Comments are closed.