Pope Francis decrees Memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church

Our Lady of the Column over the altar of Mary, Mother of the Church in St. Peter’s Basilica

Pope Francis has decreed the insertion into the calendar of the ORDINARY Form the Memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church, to be celebrated on Pentecost Monday.

The decree is dated 11 Feb 2018, the 160th anniversary of the first apparition of Our Blessed Mother at Lourdes.

How this will work with the Extraordinary Form is a bit of a puzzle, since we celebrated the Octave of Pentecost.  It seems to me that adding her orations to the Collect, etc., would be a good approach.

The title goes back at least to St. Ambrose and has been used by many Popes.  Paul VI explicitly named her “Mother of the Church” in the Credo of the People of God and created an altar for her under this title in St. Peter’s Basilica which has an ancient icon of Mary that was the model for the mosaic that John Paul II added in 1981 to the external wall of the Apostolic Palace over St. Peter’s Square.

There is a deep theology to this Marian title and celebration.

The great Card. Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship said (HERE), that this elevation of her Votive Mass to a Memorial comes from “maturation of liturgical veneration given to Mary following a better understanding of her presence ‘in the mystery of Christ and of the Church’, as explained in Chapter 7 of Vatican II’s Lumen gentium.”  It also underscores, “the importance of the mystery of Mary’s spiritual motherhood, which from the awaiting of the Spirit at Pentecost has never ceased to take motherly care of the pilgrim Church on earth”.

Prot. N. 10/18

DECREE [It’s in Latin.] on the celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of the Church in the General Roman Calendar  [HERE]

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 titles”.

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 [You have to hunt for them.  Let’s save you some time.  HERE] and their translations, prepared and approved by the Episcopal Conferences, will be published after confirmation by this Dicastery. [“all Calendars”?  And in the Extraordinary Form we use the Breviarium Romanum not the Liturgia Horarum.  Read on…]

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 Lourdes.

Robert Card. Sarah, Prefect
Arthur Roche, Archbishop Secretary


Here is the Collect for the Mass (and hours) for Memoria Beatae Mariae Virginis Ecclesiae Matris, which is simply from the Votive Mass Mary, Mother of the Church:

Deus, misericordiarum Pater, cuius Unigenitus, cruci affixus, beatam Mariam Virginem, Genetricem suam, Matrem quoque nostram constituit, concede, quaesumus, ut, eius cooperante caritate, Ecclesia tua, in dies fecundior, prolis sanctitate exsultet et in gremium suum cunctas attrahat familias populorum.

I guess the could have squeezed a few more commas into that oration… sheesh.


God, the Father of mercies, whose Only-Begotten affixed to the Cross established His Mother the Blessed Virgin Mary also as our Mother, grant, we beg, that as her charity is also at work, Your Church, ever more fruitful each day, may exalt in the sanctity of progeny and may draw into her bosom all the families of peoples.

Hmmm… so much for that whole thing about not proselytizing.  Right?  Didn’t the non-note-taking 90+ year old Communist Eugenio Scalfari of La Repubblica claim that Pope Francis said that proselytism was “solemn nonsense”?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Solitary Boast and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Mark of the Vine says:

    Not to be a grump, but always looking to bring out things old and new of one’s treasury, I wonder: couldn’t they simply have gotten the existing feast of Our Lady of the Cenacle (which is allowed for certain places in the older missal)? This memorial doesn’t even fall on a Saturday, the day traditionally ascribed to Marian votive offices. Looking at the propers for the patriarchate of Jerusalem (which had/has some interesting feasts!), the feast of OLotC would be on the Saturday after Ascension, which makes liturgical sense. I see this would be an issue with those in the NO who like to do Ascension-Thursday-Sunday, however…
    Anyway, just my 2 cents. Thankfully, I’m no one of any authority :-D

  2. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Well. Nice idea, logical idea, but Whitmonday is a bank holiday all over Europe and South America. Who is going to church for this day? Maybe it is meant for priests?

  3. Sid Cundiff in NC says:

    For those of us praying the Liturgy of the Hours, I assume this is not an optional Memorial.

  4. mhazell says:

    The (Latin) texts can be found on the website of the CDWDS here: http://www.cultodivino.va/content/cultodivino/it/documenti/decreti-generali/decreti-generali/2018/de-beata-maria-virgine-ecclesiae-matre/adnexus.html

    For English-speaking episcopal conferences, I imagine that this will be a pretty easy memorial to insert into the relevant vernacular liturgical books. The Mass texts are those of the Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, a formulary already in the current English translation of the Roman Missal. For the Lectionary texts, the two options for the first reading (Gen. 3:9-15, 20; Acts 1:12-14) are taken from the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Gospel reading (Jn. 19:25-34) is an extended version of one from the same Common. The Responsorial Psalm does not exist in the Lectionary with that exact verse division, but as the response is word-for-word from the Vulgate, it wouldn’t be difficult to use whichever vernacular psalter is in force for the UK, USA, etc. The Gospel Acclamation is new to the Ordinary Form, so would need translating by ICEL (or just use the Latin!).

    With regard to the Divine Office/Liturgy of the Hours, the Office is of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with proper hymns and Benedictus/Magnificat antiphons for Lauds and Vespers (some of which already exist in the LotH), and a proper First Reading for the Office of Readings (part of Paul VI’s speech at the end of the third session of Vatican II; not in English on the Vatican website but a translation can be found at https://vaticaniiat50.wordpress.com/2014/11/22/pope-pauls-speech-at-closing-session/). The concluding prayer at Lauds and Vespers is the same as the Collect in the Missal. There is also a brief insertion for the Roman Martyrology that could be easily translated and inserted – if the Martyrology existed in English translation!

    [Thanks! And may I say that I look forward to more of your books.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  5. For some priests who celebrate or are otherwise fond of the “extraordinary form,” this may (or may not) present a dilemma. Do they say a Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary on that day, or use the entire week including Monday, what used to be the Octave of Pentecost, to celebrate a Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit for each day?

  6. padredana says:

    Is this not already in the EF Calendar? If so, why not have the “new” memorial coincide with the same day it is celebrated on the “old” calendar? This calendar craziness has to stop. ONE calendar (preferably the “old” one)!

  7. Ave Crux says:

    This is the first act of this Papacy in 5 years that has made me smile.

    I wondered at it being a moveable Memorial on Pentecost Monday rather than a fixed date, and then realized how appropriate that would be as the Church was born at Pentecost with the Blessed Mother sitting in the midst of the Apostles as the tongues of fire of the Holy Ghost descended upon them.

    I am only saddened that the Memorial will be situated where once the Octave of Pentecost was observed by the Universal Church.

  8. Imrahil says:

    Some notes.

    1. In itself the memorial is a good idea, though I personally would have preferred it to be about the even more important and significant title Our Lady archetype of the Church. Say what you will about the II Vatican Council in general, but to present the title of “archetype” at length and in detail in the Marian chapter of Lumen gentium, while the title of “mother” (which hence textually did not fit in there) was declared in an aside by the Pope, was not a mistake.

    2. It remains to be cleared whether the EF calendar was meant by “all calendars” or whether it was just not explicitly said that it was not, on the general principle that the EF calendar is not to be touched (unless explicitly).

    If it was meant, the alternatives are 1. “higher rank in particular calendar exception” due to the II class feast of the Motherhood of Mary on 11 October (which with its Cana Wedding Gospel has a particular “mother of the Church” subtext), or 2. “III class feast on Pentecost Monday, perpetually reduced to a Commemoration due to the occurrence of higher-ranked Pentecost Monday.” A memorial (OF language) is merely a third-class feast (EF language).

    3. Certainly, dear David L Alexander, this does not abolish the Pentecost Octave in the EF, least of all on days other than Monday.

    4. I agree, dear Mark of the Vine, that the feast (as I have heard it called) of Our Lady Queen of the Apostles would have been a better choice. I generally agree that bringing back the Pentecost Octave or at least its Monday would have been a better choice.

    5. I wonder whether we Germans can, and if so whether we will, keep our lovely practice of having a compulsory Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Monday (as far as the OF is concerned).

    6. Dear Banshee, why wouldn’t they attend on a bank holiday? I guess if there’s a holiday and it’s called Pentecost Monday, after all, then the Church-going part of the population would attend more, rather than less, than on a normal weakday.

  9. jaykay says:

    Suburbanbanshee: “but Whitmonday is a bank holiday all over Europe and South America. Who is going to church for this day?”

    Good point, but I still applaud the HF’s initiative in this. It can be for the future, as all things in our Church should be. Who knows what return to the Faith there may be in times to come, and this could become as significant as Divine Mercy Sunday is now?

    It could, for example, have huge significance for those on the Chartres pilgrimage, who arrive at Notre Dame de Chartres on Pentecost Monday and currently have the High Mass of Pentecost Monday as the finish of the pilgrimage. Given, as Father Z says “How this will work with the Extraordinary Form is a bit of a puzzle, since we celebrated the Octave of Pentecost.” But I would really love to see that worked around. I think it would be so fitting.

  10. Father G says:

    The beautiful image of Our Lady of the Column over the altar of Mary, Mother of the Church was cleaned and restored in 2013. The Knights of Columbus sponsored its restoration. You can see the restored image in the May 2013 issue of their magazine, Columbia: https://issuu.com/columbia-magazine/docs/columbiamay13en

  11. Greg Smisek says:

    Regarding the suggestion of commemorating the new feast in the EF calendar on Pentecost Monday, I don’t think this could happen without violence to the EF calendar and rubrics. Whit Monday is a day within the octave of Pentecost, and so ranked #10 in the list of first-class feasts (Rubricae generales, n. 91). And “on 1st class liturgical days and in sung non-conventual Masses, no commemoration is admitted except a privileged one” (Rubricae generales, n. 111a). Unless a new category were added, the only possible way such a feast could be a privileged commemoration is if it were “of a liturgical day of the 1st class” (Rubricae generales, n. 108). Since an Ordinary Form memorial is equivalent to a third-class feast in the EF calendar, this would be quite a leap (only the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption are first-class Marian feasts). If the feast were to be observed in the EF calendar, it would make more sense to do so on the Saturday after Ascension, as Mark and Imrahil opined, with the formulary currently in the Proprium Sanctorum pro aliquibus locis, Beatae Mariae Virginis Regina Apostolorum. A new third-class feast could be entered into the calendar for that day and perhaps include a secondary title “aut Matris Ecclesiae” after the fashion of the Octave Day of Easter, a.k.a. Mercy Sunday in the Ordinary Form calendar.

    To Imrahil: The name of the votive Mass in the Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary is “The Blessed Virgin Mary, Image and Mother of the Church.” “Imago” is at least related to exemplum/exemplar, but this was dropped from the name when it was published as a votive Mass in the Roman Missal. Mary as image of the Church is the primary focus of formulary 26 of the Collection of Masses, the second “Image and Mother of the Church” formulary, which provided the readings for the memorial, but the prayers came from formulary 25, which focuses on Mary’s maternal role.

    Adding to mhazell’s footwork: The Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary has the memorial’s exact responsorial psalm verses and Alleluia verse, and it has a Gospel reading that includes the verses of the new memorial’s reading. I have the 1992 printing (confirmed 1990). I don’t have the 2012 version that was revised to conform to the Roman Missal, Third Edition. Could someone check the 2012 version?

    An observation regarding this Mass’s peculiar Gospel extract (John 19:25-34). It includes both our Lady and St. John at the foot of the Cross and the birth of the Church from the side of Christ. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 766: “The Church is born primarily of Christ’s total self-giving for our salvation, anticipated in the institution of the Eucharist and fulfilled on the cross. ‘The origin and growth of the Church are symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of the crucified Jesus’ (Lumen Gentium, 3; cf. John 19:34). ‘For it was from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth the “wondrous sacrament of the whole Church”‘ (Sacrosanctum concilium, 5). As Eve was formed from the sleeping Adam’s side, so the Church was born from the pierced heart of Christ hanging dead on the cross (cf. St. Ambrose, In Luc. 2,85-89:PL 15,1666-1668).”

    The Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary, vol. 2 (Lectionary), published in 1992, has the responsorial psalm, in formulary 26, The Blessed Virgin Mary, Image and Mother of the Church II, pp. 120-121 (the NABRE text at http://usccb.org/bible/psalms/87 is quite different, so presumably this text has been or will be superseded):

    R. (3) Glorious things are told of you, O city of God.

    The LORD loves the city
    founded on holy mountains,
    loves the gates of Zion
    more than any dwelling in Jacob.

    R. (3) Glorious things are told of you, O city of God.

    Glorious things are said of you,
    O city of God!
    But of Zion it must be said:
    “They all were born right here.”

    R. (3) Glorious things are told of you, O city of God.

    The Most High confirms this;
    the LORD notes in the register of the peoples:
    “This one was born here.”
    So all sing in their festive dance:
    “Within you is my true home.”

    The Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary, vol. 2 (Lectionary), published in 1992, has the Alleluia verse, in formulary 26, The Blessed Virgin Mary, Image and Mother of the Church II, p. 121:

    R. Alleluia, alleluia.
    O happy Virgin, you gave birth to the Lord;
    O blessed mother of the Church,
    you warm our hearts with the Spirit of your Son
    Jesus Christ.

    The Alleluia verse doesn’t exist in the sacred music patrimony.

    The Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary, vol. 2 (Lectionary), published in 1992, has a reading that includes the verses of the new memorial’s Gospel reading. In formulary 31, The Blessed Virgin Mary, Fountain of Salvation, the Gospel reading is John 19:25-37, so presumably this could be used for the new memorial, with the last 3 verses omitted (starting “An eyewitness has testified…”). However, since three phrases were changed in more recent lectionaries (see the notes below), the forthcoming authorized English text will probably incorporate those changes. The responsorial psalm and the Acts reading also come from this Mass formulary.

    Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
    and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
    and Mary of Magdala.*
    When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved
    standing beside her,**
    he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”
    Then he said to the disciple,
    “Behold, your mother.”
    And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

    After this, aware that everything was now finished,
    in order that the scripture might be fulfilled,
    Jesus said, “I thirst.”
    There was a vessel filled with common wine.
    So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop
    and put it up to his mouth.
    When Jesus had taken the wine, he said,
    “It is finished.”
    And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.

    Now since it was preparation day,
    in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross
    on the sabbath,
    for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one,
    the leaders of the Jews*** asked Pilate that their legs be
    and they be taken down.
    So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first
    and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus.
    But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already
    they did not break his legs,
    but one soldier thrust his lance into his side,
    and immediately blood and water flowed out.

    * “Mary of Magdala”: In the 2002 USA Lectionary, vol. 2 and 3, 639 (Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows), the text is “Mary Magdalene.”
    ** “the disciple whom he loved standing beside her”: In the 2002 USA Lectionary, vol. 2 and 3, 639 (Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows), the text is “the disciple there whom he loved.”
    *** “the leaders of the Jews”: In the 1998 USA Lectionary, vol. 1 (Sundays, Solemnities, Feasts of the Lord and the Saints), 171-B (Sacred Heart), the text is simply “the Jews.”

    The votive Mass as published in the Missale Romanum editio typica tertia is the Mass of the memorial. The introit, collect, super oblata, preface, prayer after communion, and one of the communion antiphon options were those of the Collectio missarum de beata Maria Virgine published in 1986/1987. It was published in English in the Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary, vol. 1 (Missal), 1992, formulary 26, The Blessed Virgin Mary, Image and Mother of the Church I, pp. 207-209. The other communion antiphon, “Nuptiae factae sunt,” is not from any Mass in the Collectio.

    None of the Mass antiphons exists in the Church’s musical treasury. I’m not sure if there are selections specified for the votive Mass in Solesmes’ most recent Gradual. There are a couple of close approximations: the late, rather long, neo-gregorian “Dixit Iesus matri suae: Mulier, ecce filius tuus; deinde dixit discipulo: Ecce mater tua. Et ex illa hora accepit eam discipulus in sua” from the Immaculate Heart of Mary Mass (EF, August 22) in place of the Communion antiphon “Ex cruce pendens dixit Iesus discipulo, quem diligebat: Ecce mater tua.” and the shorter “Nuptiae factae sunt in Cana Galilaeae, erat ibi Iesus cum Maria matre sua” Benedictus antiphon from the Second Sunday after Epiphany (EF) in place of the really long Communion antiphon “Nuptiae factae sunt in Cana Galilaeae, et erat mater Iesu ibi; tunc fecit initium signorum Iesus et manifestavit gloriam suam, et crediderunt in eum discipuli eius.” Otherwise one would use existing antiphons from the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary, such as “Gloriosa dicta sunt” (Immaculate Conception communion antiphon), which is based on the Magnificat and Psalm 86(87)–the responsorial psalm for the memorial.

  12. James in Perth says:

    No sweat, the Greek Catholic calendar remains unscathed!
    Seriously, I am pleased with this addition to the Roman calendar and the scheduling of it. She is our Mother indeed.

  13. Pingback: SATVRDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit

Comments are closed.