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Fulgens corona ("Radiant Crown") is an encyclical by Pope Pius XII, given at St. Peter's Rome, on 8 September 1953, on the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the fifteenth year of his Pontificate. The encyclical proclaims a Marian year for 1954, to commemorate the centenary of the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. Fulgens corona is significant as it contained the mariological methodology of Pope Pius XII and his views on limits and challenges of mariology.
First Marian year
In September 1953, Pope Pius XII inaugurated the Roman Catholic Church's First Marian Year, or "Little Holy Year," devoted to the Virgin Mary who had always been the object of his special veneration. He announced the Marian Year in his encyclical letter Fulgens corona. Hundreds of thousands of Romans lined the route of the papal cortege when Pius XII, in one of his rare appearances in the streets of Rome, went to the Basilica of St. Mary Major to open the Marian Year on December 8, 1953—the 99th anniversary of the proclaiming of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary by Pope Pius IX.
One hundred years before, Pius IX, surrounded by a vast retinue of cardinals and bishops, with infallible apostolic authority defined, pronounced and solemnly sanctioned in the dogmatic bull Ineffabilis Deus:
|A series of articles on|
|Dogmas and doctrines|
|Expressions of devotion|
|Key Marian apparitions|
- that the doctrine, which holds that the Most Blessed Virgin Mary at the first moment of her conception was, by singular grace and privilege of the Omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the Human race, preserved from all stains of original sin, is revealed by God, and therefore to be firmly and resolutely believed by all the faithful. 
The encyclical states, that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes, herself seemingly wished to confirm the definition, since in less than four years in a French town of Lourdes, “the Virgin Mother, youthful and benign in appearance, clothed in a shining white garment, covered with a white mantle and girded with a hanging blue cord, showed herself to a simple and innocent girl at the grotto of Massabielle. And to this same girl, earnestly inquiring the name of her with whose vision she was favored, with eyes raised to heaven and sweetly smiling, she replied:
- I am the Immaculate Conception.
This was properly interpreted by the faithful, who from all nations, and almost countless in number, flocked in pious pilgrimage to the grotto of Lourdes. This doctrine of the immaculate conception is based on Sacred Scripture and the early fathers. Though Thomas Aquinas himself did not support the doctrine of the immaculate conception, he does state that "The Blessed Virgin, because she is the Mother of God, has a certain infinite dignity from the infinite good, which is God" ..and: "The Blessed Virgin is the Mother of God: therefore, she is the purest and the most holy, so that under God a greater purity cannot be understood" (Cf. Summa Theologiae,
The encyclical notes that non-Catholics and Protestants are mistaken when because of this pretext they find fault with, or disapprove of, our devotion to the Virgin Mother of God, as if it took something from the worship due to God alone and to Jesus Christ. The contrary is true because "any honor and veneration which we may give to our Heavenly Mother undoubtedly redounds to the glory of her Divine Son, not only because all graces and all gifts, even the highest, flow from Him as from their primary source, but also because 'The glory of children are their fathers'" 
Pope Pius XII links the solemn definition of the Immaculate Conception with his dogma of the corporal Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven. It seems to him, that the faithful can with greater and better reason turn their minds and hearts to the mystery of the Immaculate Conception. For the two dogmas are intimately connected in close bond. And now that the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into Heaven has been promulgated and shown in its true light—that is, as the crowning and complement of the prior privilege bestowed upon her—there emerge more fully and more clearly the wonderful wisdom and harmony of the Divine plan, by which God wishes the most blessed Virgin Mary to be free from all stain of original sin.
Pope Pius XII invited all Catholics to celebrate the Marian Year to be held the whole world over from the month of December 1953 until the same month of the coming year. Yet this centenary celebration should revive Catholic Faith and conform lives to the image of the Virgin. Devotion not just words, is means a life of virtue and abhorring even the slightest stain of sin.
In many places, (in the East) Catholic clergy are banished, thrown into prison without just cause, or else are so harassed that they are unable to carry out their duties properly. In those same places they are not allowed to have their own schools and training colleges, that they cannot publicly teach, defend or propagate Christian doctrine in periodicals or commentaries, and cannot properly train the youth in accordance with the same doctrine. He asks for worldwide special prayers, that the sacred rights which are proper to the Church, and which the very exercise of human and civil liberty demands, may be openly and sincerely recognized by all.
- It seems that the Blessed Virgin Mary herself wished to confirm by some special sign the definition, which the Vicar of her Divine Son on earth had pronounced amidst the applause of the whole Church. For indeed four years had not yet elapsed when, in a French town at the foot of the Pyrenees, the Virgin Mother, youthful and benign in appearance, clothed in a shining white garment, covered with a white mantle and girded with a hanging blue cord, showed herself to a simple and innocent girl at the grotto of Massabielle. And to this same girl, earnestly inquiring the name of her with whose vision she was favored, with eyes raised to heaven and sweetly smiling, she replied: "I am the Immaculate Conception."
- We desire in the first place to direct Our exhortation, inspired by ardent charity, to those who, reduced to silence and trapped by all sorts of cunning snares, look with anguish of soul at the affliction and distress of their Christian community, left destitute of all human help. Let these, our dearly beloved brothers, also join with us and all other Christians in invoking before the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation (Cf. 2 Cor. 1. 3) the most powerful patronage of the Virgin Mother of God, our mother also, and let them ask her for heavenly aid and Divine consolation. Persevering in the ancient Faith with undaunted courage, let them take as their motto of Christian fortitude in this time of trial the words of the Mellifluous Doctor: "We shall stand and fight to death, if needs be, for (the Church) Our Mother, and with lawful weapons: not with the sword and shield, but with prayers and sighs to God 
- Pope Pius XII, Mariological encyclicals and bulls
- Encyclical Fulgens corona on the Vatican website
- Encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam on the Vatican website
- Encyclical Deiparae Virginis Mariae on the Vatican website
- Encyclical Ingruentium malorum on the Vatican website
- Encyclical Le pèlerinage de Lourdes on the Vatican website
- Encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi on the Vatican website
- Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus on the Vatican website
- Acta Apostolicae Sedis. (AAS), Vatican City 1939-1958. Official documents of the Pontificate of Pope Pius XII, Fulgens corona 1953, 577
- Dogmatic bull Ineffabilis Deus, of December 8, 1854.) Fulgens corona, 1
- Fulgens corona 3-4
- I, Q, 25, Art 6 as 4um).
- (Cornelius a Lapide, In Matth. 1.16).
- (Book of Proverbs, XVII 6).
- Fulgens corona 20
- Fulgens corona 23
- Fulgens corona 41
- Fulgens corona, 42
- Fulgens corona, 3
- (St. Bernard, Epistle 221. 3: Migne PL 182. 36, 387).
- Fulgens corona, 42