Mary, Our Queen
We live in an environment fraught with tension, which has the potential to take a toll on our faith life. Our Blessed Mother has always walked with the people of God and shed light upon the signs of the times. Is there an image of Mary for our modern times that might help us live more fully in the spirit of the gospel?
The Book of Revelation describes a cosmic image of Mary. “A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Revelation 12:1). This passage is found in ancient liturgical texts and teachings. Though it can be argued that the “woman” referred to in the text refers to the Church and not necessarily Mary, the Church believes the description of the woman can apply to Mary.
Consider the ecological suffering of our wounded world. In the tradition of the Church, many depictions show Mary surrounded by elements of creation. The earliest image of Mary portrayed her with a star above her head. The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) teaches she was “exalted by the Lord as Queen of the universe, that she might be more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and the conqueror of sin and death” (LG 59). That same document from the Second Vatican Council teaches she is a “type” and “model” of the Church (LG 65).
In all of these examples, our Blessed Mother is surrounded by nature and uses the resources of nature to extend to us a sign of her love. In these natural elements that accompany the visions of Mary, she draws our attention to her authentic presence and messages.
In the veneration of icons, we are instructed to read the colors, signs, and symbols used to compose the image. In the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual we can read symbols of creation.
The star on the top of her veil of blue (hyacinth blue, the color of the cosmos) announces her as the bright morning star, which precedes the “Sun of Justice,” Christ. The color of the clothing of the Child Logos—green with a red cincture around his waist—is symbolic of the earth (green) being redeemed by the blood of the Lamb (red). She holds in her arms the Word made flesh, the Word that God spoke in the beginning of creation. Holy is God’s creation!
Let us gaze upon the icon and see in it a message for us. We should hold creation with the sentiments of a loving mother holding her child. Consider the stories of Guadalupe and Fátima and take note of the earthly elements that surrounded her in these apparitions. They became signs of her presence. In these times of pain for all of creation, we must be cognizant of and spiritually sensitive to all the signs of how we are wounding our planet.