Mariological papal documents

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Mariological papal documents have been a major force that has shaped Roman Catholic Mariology over the centuries. Mariology is developed by theologians on the basis not only of Scripture and Tradition but also of the sensus fidei of the faithful as a whole, "from the bishops to the last of the faithful",[1] and papal documents have recorded those developments, defining Marian dogmas, spreading doctrines and encouraging devotions within the Catholic Church.

Popes have been highly important for the development of doctrine and the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They made decisions not only in the area of Marian beliefs but also Marian practices and devotions. Before the twentieth century, Popes promulgated Marian veneration and beliefs by authorizing new Marian feast days, prayers, initiatives, and special privileges. Since Pope Leo XIII, Popes have promulgated Mariology also with encyclicals, apostolic letters and with two dogmas (Immaculate Conception and Assumption).

This article reviews the major official teachings by the popes. In terms of formality, papal bulls and Apostolic Constitutions are above encyclicals, followed by Apostolic Letters.

Papal bulls[edit]


Coat of arms of Pius X
  • Ad diem illum - This encyclical by Pope Pius X on the Immaculate Conception, was given on February 2, 1904, in the first year of his Pontificate. It was issued in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. It is an important document because it explains the Mariology of Pope Pius X. One of the reasons the pope gave for writing the encyclical was his desire for the restoration of all things in Christ which he had defined as his motto Instaurare omnia in Christo: to restore everything in Christ, to whom there is no safer or more direct road than Mary. To Pope Pius X, Mary unites all humankind in Christ.
  • Auspicia quaedam - Auspicia quaedam is an encyclical of Pope Pius XII published on 1 May 1948, dealing with worldwide public prayers to the Virgin Mary for world peace and the solution of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, given at Rome at St. Peter's, in the tenth year of his pontificate.
  • Ingruentium malorum - This encyclical of Pope Pius XII focused on the rosary. It was given on the 15 September, the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin Mary, in 1951. The encyclical states that from the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Pius XII entrusted to the Mother of God the destiny of the human family. The Pope strongly supports the idea, that Catholic families should pray the rosary together. .
Pius XII's signature
John Paul II Coat of arms with the Marian Cross

Apostolic exhortation[edit]

Apostolic Letters[edit]

Gloriosae Dominae[edit]

This Apostolic Letter by Pope Benedict XIV was issued on September 27, 1748.

In this Apostolic Letter Pope Benedict XIV called the Blessed Virgin Mary "Queen of heaven and earth," stated that the sovereign King has in some way communicated to her his ruling power.

Marialis Cultus[edit]

Pope Paul VI issued this Mariological Apostolic Letter on February 2, 1974. The letter is subtitled, For the Right Ordering and Development of Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The document does not focus on specific themes in Mariology, but clarifies the way the Roman Catholic Church celebrates liturgies that commemorate Mary and about Marian devotion. The preparation of the document reportedly took 4 years.[10]

Rosarium Virginis Mariae[edit]

This Apostolic Letter by Pope John Paul II was issued on October 16, 2002. It deals with the Holy Rosary and views it as compendium of the Gospel message:

The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium.

The letter reaffirms the Roman Catholic beliefs on the power of the rosary and states: Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer.

The letter also emphasizes total devotion to the Virgin Mary, as promoted by Saint Louis de Montfort.



External links[edit]

  • List of papal documents at the Theology Library [2]