Mary, Mother of the Church Memorial

Today’s Memorial specifically commemorates Mary’s motherhood of the Church rather than her motherhood of God, celebrated on Jan. 1st.

Mary mothered Jesus, Jesus then gave life to the Church with water and blood from His side, and the Church then mothers us into existence through baptism.

Devotion to Mary goes hand in hand with devotion to the Church because both are mothers. Mother Mary gives the world Christ. Mother Church gives the world Christians.

The metaphorical parallels between Mother Mary and Mother Church are spiritually rich and deeply biblical.

Mary was understood by many early theologians as both the mother of the Head of the Church, Jesus, and also the symbol of the Church par excellence.

Mother Mary is a virgin who conceived the physical body of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit at the Annunciation.

In a parallel way, Mother Church is the Mystical Body of Christ who gives every Christian rebirth through the power of the Holy Spirit received at Pentecost.

Both Mary conceived Jesus and the Church conceives new Christians – not in a human way – but through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Mother Mary made Christ’s Body physically present in Nazareth in the first century. Mother Church, in turn, makes Christ’s body mystically present through baptism everywhere.

It was common for a baptismal font in early Christianity to be described as a sacred womb in which Mother Church gave her children life. 

In 2018, Pope Francis decreed that the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church to be celebrated on the Monday after Pentecost.