QUAERITUR ALIBI: Why isn’t Mary considered a priest?

Mark Shea in his blog, Catholic and Enjoying It, has a good Q&A:

A reader asks:

Why isn’t Mary [the Mother of God] considered the first priest since she actually brought Christ into this world?

Well, in a certain sense she is since she participates in the common priesthood of all the baptized [If she was baptized… hmmm…]. However, the short answer is: Because Christ did not ordain her to the sacerdotal priesthood.

In many respects Mary willingly participated in Christ’s perfect sacrificial self-offering in the greatest degree that any human could, and certainly greater than anyone else ever has.

But she was not chosen by Christ to be a priest in the way he chose the Apostles and their successors in the ministerial priesthood.

I do not recall any speculation in the Father about Mary having been baptized.

Her lot in the economy of salvation is privileged.  I don’t think we can easily speak of her as needing precisely what all of us need, for example, the baptism which forgives the guilt of original sin, the baptism which would make the Mother of the Church a member of the Church, the baptism which would make her who gave Christ his Body a member of the Body of Christ.

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  1. Bonifacius says:

    There’s no reason to think that Our Lady wasn’t baptized that I can see. Our Lord was baptized, and He is greater than His Mother. Our Lady didn’t have original sin, but neither did Our Lord. The eradication of original sin is not the sole effect of baptism. If she had not been baptized, she would not have been incorporated into the Church sacramentally. She received the Blessed Eucharist, so she would have benefited from baptism and confirmation as well. My two cents. I think that there are also passages from saints that mention Our Lady’s baptism.

  2. dcs says:

    Why isn’t Mary considered the first priest since she actually brought Christ into this world?

    I guess for the same reason we don’t consider St. Anne a carpenter even though she “made” the first tabernacle (i.e., Our Lady). ;-)

  3. Nicholas says:

    Her lot in the economy of salvation is privileged. I don’t think we can easily speak of her as needing precisely what all of us need, for example, the baptism which forgives the guilt of original sin, the baptism which would make the Mother of the Church a member of the Church, the baptism which would make her who gave Christ his Body a member of the Body of Christ.

    Would it be incorrect to say that Our Lady’s preservation from original sin implies a participation in all these things granted without need for the sacrament of Baptism?

  4. Bonifacius says:

    Okay, so I, foolishly, didn’t read Fr. Z.’s post about Our Lady’s baptism; assuming (yes, I know what that means) that he’d stick to the priesthood question. Suffice it to say that I differ on the point of Our Lady requiring baptism. If it’s good enough for Our Lord, the Head of the Church, to be baptized, I think that it would be good enough for Our Lady. I would think that His baptism would prompt her to seek the sacrament as well. It seems fitting.

  5. Geoffrey says:

    Interesting. Did the Baptism that St. John the Baptist perform remove original sin, even though this was before the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of the Lord?

  6. william says:

    Mother Theresa, when asked by a journalist if she thought women should be ordained to the priesthood, answered: “Who better than the Blessed Mother could extend her hands and say ‘This is my body’?” She next said that “Our Blessed Lord could have included her among the twelve at the Last Supper, but He did not choose to do so…”

  7. Nicholas says:


    The difficulty I see in your argument is that Our Lord did not receive sacramental Baptism as we do.

    A few years back Communio had a fabulous issue devoted to the Baptism of the Lord, and I still have my copy. I need to go re-read it when I get home tonight; there was material germane to this discussion therein….

  8. Bonifacius says:

    I’m not sure that St. John’s baptism removed original sin. I don’t think that this is so relevant to this case, though. Our Lord thought it fitting to receive baptism from St. John even though that baptism may not have been a salvific sacrament. How much more so then would Our Lady be prompted to receive baptism in the Name of the Trinity? I am leary of making too strong a distinction between the baptism of Our Lord and sacramental baptism because, at least on that one occasion of baptism by St. John, the Heaven’s did open.

    Additionally, the Bible seems to indicate that Our Lady did not dispense with rules and ceremonies that we might expect her to be exempt from. She was “purified” even though she was sinless and had incurred no pollution in giving Birth to Our Lord. That was under the Old Law. After that conspicuous instance of obedience to the Old Law, it would seem contrary to her habit for Our Lady to exempt herself from the most imperative rite of the New Law. Our Lady’s purity and sinlessness did not preclude a rite of purification, so I do not see how her sinlessness and communion with Christ would preclude baptism.

  9. Josh Hood says:

    St. Ephrem wrote that Our Lady was “mysteriously” baptized by bearing the Son of God, but I am not aware of an instance where he thinks of her as receiving the actual rite of sacramental baptism. I say “mysteriously” because the Syriac (actually Persian) word “râzâ” is difficult to translate – it encompasses “mystery,” “sacrament,” and “symbol.”

  10. JohnE says:

    Interesting. Immediately after reading this post, I read this one:
    “My reminder that the Blessed Mother was not a priest but enjoyed an incredibly privileged role in the Church, was met with, “That’s true, but that was 2,000 years ago.“”

    Something going on today that I should know about?

  11. Jordanes says:

    St. Paul sharply distinguishes between St. John’s baptism and Trinitarian baptism in Acts 19:1-5. In that passage, we find St. Paul baptising some believers who had only received St. John’s baptism. If St. John’s baptism were a salvific sacrament like Christian baptism, washing away original amd actual sin, there would have been no need for their second baptism. It would make sense that Our Lady would receive baptism from St. John as her Son did, but just as He never received the sacrament of Baptism (rather, He instituted it), so there was no need for the Blessed Mother to receive Baptism.

    These quotes from the Catena Aurea of St. Thomas Aquinas indicate that it has long been understood that St. John’s baptism was not to remit sin, but to signify repentance or turning from sin back to God, to prepare for the coming of the Messiah:

    Remigius: The office to be performed; “that He might be baptized of him;” not baptism to the remission of sins, but to leave the water sanctified for those after to be baptized.

    Augustine, non occ., cf. Ambrosiaster, Serm. 12. 4: The Saviour willed to be baptized not that He might Himself be cleansed, but to cleanse the water for us. [ed. note: This is the doctrine of St. Austin, in Joan. iv. 14. Op. Imp. contr. Julian iv. 63. Ambros. in Luke ii, 83, &c. &c. vid. Pusey on Baptism, p. 279. ed. 2] From the time that Himself was dipped in the water, from that time has He washed away all our sins in water. And let none wonder that water, itself corporeal substance, is said to be effectual to the purification of the soul; it is so effectual, reaching to and searching out the hidden recesses of the conscience. Subtle and penetrating in its own nature, made yet more so by Christ’s blessing, it touches the hidden springs of life, the secret places of the soul, by virtue of its all-pervading dew. The course of blessing is even yet more penetrating than the flow of waters. Thus the blessing which like a spiritual river flows on from the Saviour’s baptism, hath filled the basins of all pools, and the courses of all fountains.

    Pseudo-Chrysostom: He comes to baptism, that He who has taken upon Him human nature, may be found to have fulfilled the whole mystery of that nature; not that He is Himself a sinner, but He has taken on Him a nature that is sinful. And therefore though He needed not baptism Himself, yet the carnal nature in others needed it.

    Ambrose, Ambrosiaster, Serm. 12. 1: Also like a wise master inculcating His doctrines as much by His own practice, as by word of mouth, He did that which He commanded all His disciples to do.

    Augustine, in Joann. Tract. v. 2: He deigned to be baptized of John that the servants might see with what readiness they ought to run to the baptism of the Lord, when He did not refuse to be baptized of His servant.

    Jerome: Also that by being Himself baptized, He might sanction the baptism of John.

  12. It seems fitting that Our Lady would receive both Baptism and Confirmation because these confer not only an increase in sanctifying grace but also the sacramental character, which may not have been impressed on her immaculate soul at her conception.

  13. Bill in Texas says:

    Mary was (and is) called to a higher vocation than the priesthood. She is the only creature ever called to that vocation.

    The argument that “if baptism was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for Mary” sounds very illogical to me:

    – John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance, as I understand it. It was not the same as sacramental baptism — it did not remove sin. In addition to Jordanes’ points, Jesus, in going down into the water of the Jordan, gave a symbol of his future death, and (I have heard it explained) took on himself the sins of mankind. The baptism of Jesus was not the same in any way as the baptism anyone else has ever experienced, including those persons baptized by John.

    – Mary, being conceived without sin, and having never sinned in her life, had nothing to repent of, and was essentially baptized at her immaculate conception. She never required baptism. She is the only (solely) human creature ever to be so blessed.

  14. Lurker #59 says:

    My thoughts on the matter:

    In terms of Mary’s baptism, it should be noted that baptism is an ontological change in the nature of the individual, not simply a removal of sin or a restoration to an Edenic state, but rather an adoption and incorporation of that individual, via adoption, into the covenantal family of the Father.

    Christ did not need to have the baptism of adoption, for he was already one in being with the Father, but instead took the baptism of St. John the Baptist which was for repentance of sins, but not remission of sins.

    The fact of Mary’s nature as being without original sin as well as actual sin, does not in itself constitute being part of the adopted covenantal family of the Father, nor should it be assumed that it constitutes her being at an Edenic state with all the pretranatural gifts of our first parents. Because salvation does not consist in only being sinless but rather primarily in being united with God via theosis, the issue of Mary’s adoption into the covenantal family of God is a real issue.

    Because it is recognized that Mary is the true mother of the God-Man Jesus, she is at Christ’s conception part of that covenantal family of the Father. As such, her baptism as a daughter of God occurred prior to Christ’s conception.

    Let me suggest a solution to this: It is said that Mary conceived in her heart prior to her conceiving in her womb. To conceive in ones heart is to become a new creation, and it can be said that Mary’s conceiving in her heart the Word of the Father transformed her from being the sinless virgin daughter of Israel (Eve), to the virginal mother of the new covenantal Kingdom. This would fit with the prophecies concerning new hearts in the Old Testament. Futher, when we consider that Mary was “over shadowed” we find that the Greek term episkiaz? carries with it the connotations of vaporous cloud, passing through, breathing, which are extremely evocative of Israel passing through the Red Sea, the creation of man, and the creation of the world – all three events are typologically connected to baptism.

    As for the priesthood aspect, let me suggest that we take a page from our Protestant brothers and sisters, who can go on and on about the “priesthood of all believers” even though they in reality believe no such thing for co-mediatorship is blasphemous to them. It is true that Mary, no woman, and most men are not part of the sacerdotal priesthood of Melchizedek, but it is also true that Mary is a privileged co-mediator, through whom, as mother of Christ, all graces come, and in fact all are called to be mediators of grace to each other and this world as “sons of God”, and a kingdom of holy priests to whom this world looks for redemption, and it is also true that we are called to participate in Mass by offering the Sacrifice of the Altar with the vicar of Christ(priest) to the Father through the Spirit. The only way that these things can be squared is to allow for the term “priest” to be applied to all Christians in the scriptural understanding of the “priesthood of all believers”.

    This of course might provide a fruitful way to:

    1.) bring Protestants back to the Church, by educating us and them on what this “priesthood of all believers” actually means
    2.) enter into dialog with “women priest” movements and sympathizers by giving them a constructive place to “mediate”.
    3.) provide a path for pulling the “social justice” wings of the Church away from a materalistic approach towards salvation and stewardship of our brothers and this earth and back to the more dogmatic and “mysterious” encounter with God and mediating grace to each other and this world.

    Of course all of this will take study and prayerful action.

  15. Jeff Pinyan says:

    Mary represents the first exercise of the “baptismal priesthood” (despite not needing Baptism). As the people offer the priest the bread and wine for consecration, so Mary offered her own son. As the people unite their own sacrifices and offerings to the bread and wine and then to the perfect sacrifice of the Eucharist, so Mary united her own sorrows and sacrifices to her son, before and during the crucifixion.

  16. Sure, sure, Father. But everybody knows that Mary Magdalene was a priest:


  17. Maureen says:

    There are medieval images of Mary as a priest, but it’s pretty figurative. I guess people found them confusing, though, so they stopped using the image. I think it was mostly an excuse to show Jesus as an altarboy, anyway.

  18. Timbot says:

    I think it also bears remembering that even in lack of baptism, as a Jew, Mary would also have partaken in the common priesthood of the Jews.

  19. Ohio Annie says:

    Geoffrey, there is reference in the Bible to John’s baptism as being a baptism of repentence and not the same as the Church’s baptism to remove original sin. I would need to see the catechism on this though. You might look it up. I seem to recall someone asking a group of people if they had received the baptism for remission of sins and they replied that they had only had John baptism of repentence.

  20. Jordanes says:

    Ohio Annie said: I seem to recall someone asking a group of people if they had received the baptism for remission of sins and they replied that they had only had John baptism of repentence.

    You’re probably thinking of St. Paul in Acts 19:1-5, which I cited above.

  21. The Masked Chicken says:

    Wait a minute. As I understand it, there is no sacrament without the Church and there was no Church before Pentecost, at least properly speaking. If that is so, sacramental baptism became active at Pentecost. Now, it is not recorded that ANY of the people in the upper room were subsequently baptized, including the apostles. It is possible that the original Pentecostal experience substituted for baptism for those people. From the time of the Ascension, when Jesus told the Apostles to baptize, until Pentecost, we read of no sacramental baptisms. After Pentecost, we start reading about sacramental baptisms. Thus, Scripture is silent about who, if any, of the people in the upper room, including Mary, were subsequently baptized or the ontological effect of the tongues of flame on those who received them.

    Why wasn’t baptism mentioned for these people? If I may hazard a guess: at the Last Supper, Jesus made some ontological statements about the Apostles as well as some sacramental statements. Let’s look at some.

    John 13 [RSV]:

    “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part in me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, ?”He who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but he is clean all over; and you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “You are not all clean.”

    Before one can become a priest, one must be baptized. Since the Last Supper was the institution of the sacramental priesthood, there must have been a moment when the Apostles were baptized or declared baptized. This is a likely place. Jesus is not bound to the sacraments and can confer an ontological status on anyone he chooses. When he says that Peter is clean, he means that Peter is clean from sin, since the last reference to clean refers to sin.

    John 15:

    1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

    You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 This I command you, to love one another.

    Here, Jesus says that they are clean because of the words he spoke to them. Many other people heard his words, but these are the only people he declares clean. He then calls them friends. One is made a friend of Christ in baptism. He then goes on to impart the priestly duty of supplication to them.

    John 17:

    1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify thy Son that the Son may glorify thee, 2 since thou hast given him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom thou hast given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. 4 I glorified thee on earth, having accomplished the work which thou gavest me to do; 5 and now, Father, glorify thou me in thy own presence with the glory which I had with thee before the world was made.

    6 “I have manifested thy name to the men whom thou gavest me out of the world; thine they were, and thou gavest them to me, and they have kept thy word. 7

    17 Sanctify them in the truth; thy word is truth. 18 As thou didst send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth.

    20 “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

    24 Father, I desire that they also, whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which thou hast given me in thy love for me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, the world has not known thee, but I have known thee; and these know that thou hast sent me. 26 I made known to them thy name, and I will make it known, that the love with which thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

    Jesus is claiming these men, in the same way that a child is claimed for the Church at baptism.

    I conclude from this that Jesus might have imparted the equivalent of baptism to his Apostles at the Last supper, but that the sacramental form did not become available until Pentecost. Jesus could have baptized anyone he wanted in any way he wanted. I an arguing that the Apostles received the ontological status of baptism at the Last Supper and Mary received it at the Immaculate conception by a special dispensation from God.

    The Chicken

  22. Michael Garner says:

    From The Ecclesiastical Review v. LXII:

    Did then the Blessed Virgin receive the Sacrament of Baptism? Oswald 1 answers in the negative; but the affirmative is held by Suarez,2 de Vega,s Lepicier,4 Terrien 5 and others. And in fact, examining the question on intrinsic grounds, we find very little reason for the negative side. We may even go further and assert that she was bound to receive this Sacrament by the universal law of Christ: \” Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.\” 8 The fact that Mary was never defiled by either original or actual sin offers no very cogent argument for the opposite opinion. For, among the proper effects of Baptism are comprised some which Mary was capable of receiving—the increase of grace, incorporation in the Church, and the capacity to receive other Sacraments validly. A somewhat analogous case is that of those Jews who were converted to Christianity (in the first Pentecost. They had been cleansed from original sin under the Old Law (doubtless some of them were in the state of grace), yet they were obliged to receive Christian Baptism. Of course, Christ, the Supreme Lawgiver of the New Testament, could have dispensed His Mother from this obligation; yet we have no convincing reason to believe that He did so. If it was not derogatory to His dignity to receive Circumcision and the Baptism of St. John, surely it was not unbecoming that His Mother should receive the Baptism of grace, for which Circumcision and St. John\’s Baptism were merely a preparation.

    Whether Mary received Baptism from Christ Himself or from one of the Apostles, is a matter of conjecture. Suarez and de Vega in the passages cited above mention a tradition that our Lord with His own hands baptized His Mother and St. Peter. Suarez tries to reconcile this with another tradition that only the Prince of the Apostles received Baptism from Christ Himself. Since, however, the antiquity and accuracy of these traditions are very doubtful, they afford no definite information on the subject.

    In connexion with Baptism, it may be interesting to state that Mary probably received in infancy the remediitm naturae, the means which the Old Law provided for the cleansing of the souls of females from original sin, just as circumcision effected the sanctification of males. As John the Baptist, although justified before birth, and Christ the spotless Lamb of God, were circumcised, so Mary, although preserved from original sin, very likely received the corresponding remedium naturae, which produced in her an increase in grace. Even if Joachim and Ann were supernaturally enlightened regarding the singular privilege of the Immaculate Conception bestowed upon their daughter, they would nevertheless observe the prescriptions of the Jewish Law in the same spirit of humility and obedience which Mary herself manifested later on by submitting to the law of Purification from which her virginal maternity excused her.

  23. BCatholic says:

    Priests re-present Christ’s death, which Mary did not do when she brought Jesus into the world. It’s not the same “priesthood.”

  24. CarpeNoctem says:

    H. U. von Balthasar had a really good article on this topic (“The Priesthood of Mary”) published posthumously in Communio some time back (sorry, don’t have the reference immediately available).

    His basic thesis, if I remember correctly, is that the Grace of God was intrensic in Mary’s very being as Mary models the victorious Church. Christ is perfectly present and realized in that victorious Church, and thus, she doesn’t need to point outside herself to say, “This is my Body”, for Christ is already intimately part of her body, her vocation of motherhood, and her very being… there is no need for the ministerial priesthood in the perfected, victorious Church (…as there is no need for the ministerial priesthood in heaven.)

    John, on the other hand models the ministerial priesthood of the pilgrim Church, and is a channel of extrensic grace, the grace of “not yet”. John does need to point outside himself to be an ‘effective sign’ of God’s grace (i.e., a sacramental priest).

    In these two gathered at the Cross of Christ and confined within the limits of space and time, (the prototypical Balthasarian tryptich), we see the tension of ‘now, but not yet’ and the destiny of the Church as prefigured by Mary. Here, John is Mary’s minister and custodian by Christ’s command from the cross. While Mary has already personally realized the perfection of her intimate union with Christ, she is served by the ministerial priesthood which is still proclaiming (and drawing on that grace) which is yet to be realized in the rest of the Church.

    I hope this makes sense, and I hope that I am representing Balthasar’s argument correctly here… I stand open to criticism and discussion on this matter, as it has been a while (too long, actually) since I have tried to wrap my mind around this mystery as Balthasar presents it, and then to try to describe it in words.

    Like the Christological controversies of the first five centuries which were settled in large part by a correct understanding of Mary (as Theotokos), I think the role of Mary will clear up the modern controversy on women’s ordination. I would say that in the Catholic Church (and as far as I am concerned Protestants can think and do whatever they want as they don’t have the priesthood), the priesthood is ultimately a Chistological question and controversy… how is Christ present in the Church and how do men serve as alter-Christus. This is not a debate of politics, sociology, archeology, or even scripture, sacramental or pastoral theology. The question comes down to, ‘who is Jesus’ and ‘what (philosophically/theologically) is the priesthood he gives the Church’?

  25. Precentrix says:


    Might that tradition about St Peter simply be based on the ‘caput’?


    The sacramental character is, of course, the conformity with Christ. I don’t think that this was necessary in the case of Our Lady, since she already participated as fully as possible in His sufferings during His earthly life. I;’m not saying that she wasn’t baptised, but I do not believe that it would have been necessary, not only on the grounds of her freedom from original sin, but simply on the grounds of her divine maternity.

  26. S Joseph says:

    In the patristic times the term mysterion was used primarily in the wider and general sense of “mystery of salvation,” and only in a subsidiary manner to designate the particular actions which bestow salvation. The fixed number seven is of Western origin ( in the Profession of Faith by Pope Clement IV in 1267 ?). The Byzantine Church (Orthodox) never committed itself formally to any specific list though today they mostly mean the standard seven when they refer to the sacraments. Some of what are considered as sacramentals in the Western Churches are considered as sacraments by some in the Byzantium.

    In the Catholic Church, “Baptism, the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the “sacraments of Christian initiation,” whose unity must be safeguarded”. (CCC 1285). The liturgy of Eastern rite Catholic Churches reflects this very well. In the Eastern rite Catholic Church I belong to, baptism and confirmation are administered together for an infant and immedietly afterwards the infant is admitted to the Eucharistic communion with a small piece of consecrated host.

    Once Mary (according to tradition) and the apostles received the Eucharist at the last supper, they were initiated into the Christian Church by partaking of the “mysteries”. Since baptism and the Eucharist are closely linked together, I would think that a separate baptism would not be necessary in their case.

  27. JohnW says:

    It would be absolutely certain that our Blessed Lady would not have received baptism, due to the fact that she was conceived without sin, known as her Immaculate Conception. As a young boy serving mass a priest gave a sermon stating that “Where Christ is, there can be no sin” he was referring to Our most Blessed Lady, who was without sin. Our most Blessed Mother was present at the Descent of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost. This could be considered a Baptism of the Holy Ghost. Jesus was Baptized to set an example for us, and not because of need.

  28. Michael Garner says:


    Abosultely certain? There are many theologians that think just the opposite. Where is your absolute certainty coming from as some of the greatest minds in the Church think that she most certainly did receive Baptism just as she most certainly did receive the Blessed Sacrament?

  29. Veritas says:

    Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were not baptised , nor were the Prophets.

  30. Ros says:

    It seems a little vulgar to me,for all and sundry to be stating opinions on Our Lord’s Mother.Someone has even posted”If it was good enough for Our Lord……..then it’s good enough for Our Lady”.
    Who do you think you are,addressing her activities in such a manner?
    You would not speak to her in such a way,if you met her.If we needed to know these facts,in order to increase our own holiness,we would have had them revealed.
    Mary reveals herself in the Rosary,she would never speak about us in this manner.Let us afford her the same respect.

  31. Ephrem says:

    What a great thread–like sitting in the halls of a medieval university!

    This is an exemplary use of the blog medium, I think.

  32. Fr. A says:

    Michael Garner, thank you for your post.

  33. Fr. Mike says:

    Well, I guess you could say that Mary is definitely the first Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist since she gave to all of us, the Body of Christ!

  34. Great thread!

    One aspect of Mary the Mother of God not yet mentioned is her relationship with respect to the “other” two members of the Blessed Trinity — the daughter of God the Father and the spouse of the Holy Spirit.

    With regard to the question of baptism, St. Alphonsus’ Sermon on the Immaculate Conception quotes Sirach 24:3 in ascribing to Mary her predestined role as first-born of God, “I came out of the mouth of the Most High, the first born before all creatures” (this also was — is? — one of the Scriptures cited by the Church on the Feast of her Conception). If baptism is in fact the sacrament by which men become adopted sons of God (Romans 8:14-17), the point is moot with respect to Mary — she has no need of adoption, as she was created immediately as God\’s first-born Daughter. Likewise, was not Pentecost the birth of the Sacramental Church for all but Mary, for whom it was a joyous reunion with the Divine Spouse who had already visited her at the Annunciation, when her “fullness of grace” was crowned with an immortal Bridal Veil? If so, how can baptism have had any merit other than as a pedagogical exercise for this one whose soul was already completely espoused to the Spirit?

    As far as priesthood goes, the Balthasarian bent of CarpeNoctem above provides some insight– the meaning of priesthood is intimately concerned with ‘alter Christus’, which then begs the question as to whether Mary can be ‘another Christ’ and at the same time be the spouse of the Holy Spirit. “Mediatrix” and “co-redemptrix” are both titles that get bandied about at times with neither proper gravity nor understanding, and it seems an error to think that either are synonymous with “priest”.

    Perhaps a good metaphor — or type, perhaps — of Mary\’s role as mediatrix and redemptrix is the Sabine women making peace between the Romans (their husbands and children) and the Sabines (their brothers and fathers). Despite the pernicious skulduggery whereby their husbands gained their marital favors, theirs is a rousing testament of fortitude, forgiveness, and feminine genius through which we can perhaps better understand the role of Mary. Making peace between Rome and Sabina was a particular role that ONLY those women could play, just as, in conjunction with and in subordination to her Son, making peace between God and the world was a particular role that ONLY Mary could play.

  35. Joe says:

    I read somewhere long ago (which is Mustelan for “I can’t remember where”) that when John the Beloved Disciple took Mary into his home she taught him the meaning of the Incarnation, so that when he wrote his Gospel he understood the Eucharist more profoundly.

  36. Origen Adamantius says:

    Baptism of Mary: Baptism is necessary for entering in to the family of God; however, it must be noted that the Church holds that there are “other baptisms” besides the actual pouring of water and Mary by conception of Christ would theoretically fall quite easily into the “other” category. (Note: the Baptism of John is not Christian Baptism, it does not come with the trans formative power of the Spirit that Christ offers)

    Mary as Priest: There is only one Priest, Jesus Christ, both the ministerial and baptismal priesthood participate in that one Priesthood. The ministerial Priesthood participates in Christ’s offering of himself to the Father. Mary’s Motherhood is a distinct role of bearing him to the world.

  37. Jordanes says:

    My thanks to Michael Garner for the quoted passage from The Ecclesiastical Review. It lays out some solid arguments for believing that the Blessed Virgin did receive Christian Baptism, though I’m inclined to think the question must remain open. Though I had said Mary had no need to receive Baptism just as Jesus had no need and thus He never received Baptism, even without needing Baptism she still could have undergone it. Anyway I omitted to consider that Baptism not only remits sin but also incorporates a soul into the Church, Christ’s Mystical Body, which is something Mary would have needed; and that Christ had taught the necessity of Baptism. Granted, Our Lady could have received the effects of Baptism without undergoing it, and perhaps she did, but still if we have the example of Our Lord undergoing the baptism of John even though He did not need to repent (He did it for other important reasons, which may not have been things He personally needed but were definitely things we needed from Him), there would be nothing objectionable about Our Lady undergoing Christian Baptism even though she did not have any sins to be washed away. While it can be allowed that she was not baptised, the greater likelihood is that she was.

  38. Michael J says:


    Is it not original sin that separates us and necessetates the Sacrament of Baptism in order for incorporation into the Church? Like you, I have no trouble believing that Our Lady did indeed receive a Christian Baptism, but I have difficulty accepting that she *needed* it.

  39. Bill in Texas says:

    1. Priests have only ever been men. Mary is not a man. She is not a priest. If Christ had made her a priest in the same way that He made the Apostles priests, this fact surely would have been recorded in Scripture. These aren’t moot points that can be argued about, they are facts.
    2. Mary’s role in salvation history is quite different from the role of any priest. She is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, the Mother of God. These are higher callings than the priesthood, and they are unique to Mary. She has more power in heaven and on earth than any other creature.
    3. Mary simply did not require baptism, for the reasons given in 1 and 2 and by virtue of her Immaculate Conception.
    4. That Mary is a member of Christ’s Mystical Body is more than adequately shown by her Assumption, body and soul, into heaven. This was intended by God from all time. It did not require her baptism to make it so. God doesn’t do anything in salvation history that amounts to “wasted motion” and baptizing Mary would certainly have been wasted motion.

  40. Jordanes says:

    Michael J, there is a distinction between the effect of remission of sin (original and actual) and the effect of incorporation into the Church. Baptism does both. We know Our Lady had no sin of any kind, and we also know that at some point she was incorporated into the Church. We also know that Christ taught that Baptism is necessary, and that it is the ordinary means of incorporation into the Body of Christ. I could see an argument that she may have “needed” Baptism, though it may rather have been something that was “fitting.”

  41. Michael Val Hietter says:

    Someone else raised the issue above in a way, but I am still wondering: When were the Apostles baptized? I believe the Gospel of John mentions that Jesus Himself had a baptizing ministry (after receiving His own baptism)–could this represent the institution of THE sacramental Baptism, as opposed to the forerunning baptism by John the Baptist? If so, might the Apostles (and maybe the Blessed Mother) received their sacramental Baptisms then? (Is that the meaning of the traditions mentioned by Suarez and de Vega as noted above?)

    As a mostly theologically ignorant layman, it seems to me that if the Apostles were made priests (heck, more fundamentally, received the Eucharist) at the Last Supper, then they should have been already incorporated into the Church, which (if Pentecost is the birth of the Church) was not in existence until Pentecost, with said incorporation into the Church requiring Baptism, which is a function by, of, and for the Church, which supposedly wasn’t yet in existence, and, and, and (BRAIN FAILURE! BRAIN FAILURE! BRAIN FAILURE!)……

    Maybe the above statement of my confusion could lead to some clarity somehow.

    Michael Val Hietter

  42. Because women cannot be fathers, since they are mothers.

  43. I’m inclined to believe that Mary would not have need for Baptism because of her Immaculate Conception. And since she’s ketcharitomene, she’d have no need for adoption, since she’s already incoporated…but as a student trying to learn more, it’s a question I’ll ponder at myself.

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