Marian Cross

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John Paul II Coat of arms

The Marian Cross is an informal name applied[citation needed] to a design in the personal coat of arms of Pope John Paul II. The design consists of a Latin cross with the crossbar extended on the viewer's right (heraldic) sinister), together with a letter "M" (for the Virgin Mary) under the extended arm of the cross.

A combination of the letter M with a normal Latin cross and other symbols is found also as part of the 1830 design of the Miraculous Medal, revealed to Saint Catherine Labouré in a Marian apparition. In that design the letter M is surmounted by a normal Latin cross standing on a bar (which may represent the earth) interlaced with the letter M.[1][2]

As in that design, the letter M combined with a cross in the coat of arms of Pope John Paul II represents the Virgin Mary standing at the foot of the cross of Jesus during his crucifixion.

The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, stated in 1978:[3]

The coat of arms for Pope John Paul II is intended to be a homage to the central mystery of Christianity, that of Redemption. It mainly represents a cross, whose form however does not correspond to any of the usual heraldry models. The reason for the unusual shift of the vertical part of the cross is striking, if one considers the second object included in the Coat of Arms: the large and majestic capital M, which recalls the presence of the Madonna under the Cross and Her exceptional participation in Redemption. The Pontiff’s intense devotion to the Holy Virgin is manifested in this manner.

Pope John Paul II's coat of arms was thus based on his strong Marian devotion. [4]

He himself wrote:[5]

As is well-known, in my episcopal arms, which are a symbolic illustration of the gospel text[John 19:25-27] we have just quoted, the motto Totus tuus takes its inspiration from the teaching of St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort (cf. My Vocation, Gift and Mystery, pg 42; Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 15). These two words express total belonging to Jesus through Mary: "Tuus totus ego sum, et omnia mea tua sunt," writes St. Louis Marie, and he translates: "I am all yours and all I have is yours, O dear Jesus, through Mary, your holy Mother" (True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, 233). The teaching of this saint has had a profound influence on the Marian devotion of many of the faithful, and on my own life. What we are dealing with is a lived teaching, of remarkable ascetical and mystical depth, expressed in a lively and ardent style, which often appeals to images and symbols. Since the days of St. Louis Marie, Marian theology has nevertheless developed a great deal, thanks above all to the decisive approach taken by the Second Vatican Council. Montfort's teaching, therefore, must be re-read and interpreted today in the light of the Council, while retaining substantially the same value.

He also singled out de Montfort's work in his encyclical entitled Redemptoris Mater[6] as a key example of Marian devotion. And in his Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae he wrote:[7]

This role of Mary, totally grounded in that of Christ and radically subordinated to it, “in no way obscures or diminishes the unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power”.(20) This is the luminous principle expressed by the Second Vatican Council which I have so powerfully experienced in my own life and have made the basis of my episcopal motto: Totus Tuus. The motto is of course inspired by the teaching of Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, who explained in the following words Mary's role in the process of our configuration to Christ: "Our entire perfection consists in being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus Christ. Hence the most perfect of all devotions is undoubtedly that which conforms, unites and consecrates us most perfectly to Jesus Christ. Now, since Mary is of all creatures the one most conformed to Jesus Christ, it follows that among all devotions that which most consecrates and conforms a soul to our Lord is devotion to Mary, his Holy Mother, and that the more a soul is consecrated to her the more will it be consecrated to Jesus Christ". Never as in the Rosary do the life of Jesus and that of Mary appear so deeply joined. Mary lives only in Christ and for Christ!

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Association of the Miraculous Medal [1]
  2. ^ Catholic encyclopedia [2]
  3. ^ L’Osservatore Romano, 09.11.1978
  4. ^ Holy See Press Office Coat of Arms of His Holiness John Paul II, Updated: 03-15-2006
  5. ^ Letter of Pope John Paul II to the religious of the Mortfortian congregations
  6. ^ Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater (English)
  7. ^ Pope John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae (English)

External links[edit]