In 1656, King John II Casimir of Poland proclaimed the Virgin Mary Queen of his kingdom. At the Shrine of Our Lady of Częstochowa, located in the Jasna Góra Monastery in Southern Poland, an orb and scepter hang to the left of the iconic image of the Black Madonna. Symbols of royal authority, those who watched the recent funeral of Queen Elizabeth II of England, observed her orb and scepter placed on top of her closed casket. The orb at Jasna Góra has the inscription, “Queen of the Polish Crown! Guard your kingdom!” In 1717, the icon was crowned with a golden crown gifted by Pope Clement XI. In 1909, Pope Pius X sent a replacement crown after the original was stolen. The icon today is mostly covered by the crown and precious jewels which only reveal the faces of Mary and the child Jesus.
When Saint John the Evangelist recorded the great apocalyptic vision he had, he wrote that he saw, “a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.” A great red dragon also appeared, threatening to devour the child. Saint John continues, “She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne.” This revelation from the New Testament portrays Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth – the fifth glorious mystery of the Rosary.
Whoever recognizes Jesus as King, also recognizes His mother Mary as Queen. Jesus fulfilled the promises God made to his ancestor King David, primarily that through one of his descendants, God would take care of his chosen people, and that his kingdom would last forever. The kingdom of David eventually fell into the hands of its enemies, and the Jewish people began to wait for the Messiah who would restore the kingdom. The Old Testament records that in ancient Israel, the queen of the kingdom was not the wife of the king (since oftentimes the kings had numerous wives and concubines). The queen was the mother of the king. When Jesus was greeted enthusiastically into Jerusalem, the crowd exclaimed, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come! Hosanna in the highest!” Those who recognized Jesus as king in the early church, also naturally recognized that his mother was the queen.
After rapid societal changes in Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries, Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast of Christ the King to remind the world that in the midst of uncertainty and conflicting ideologies, Jesus remained sovereign over all people and all things. A visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Częstochowa, or any shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary, reveals that as long as Jesus is King, his mother is Queen. The 12th century Marian hymn Regina Caeli is a testament of the love and devotion Christians have expressed to the Queen throughout time: Queen of Heaven, rejoice, for He whom you did merit to bear, has risen as He said, pray for us to God. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin, Mary, for the Lord has truly risen.
Picture used with Creative Commons permission from here.