Mother of the Church

Mary’s Role at Pentecost

On March 3, 2018, Pope Francis declared that on the Monday following Pentecost Sunday, the Church would celebrate the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, “Mother of the Church.” The passage the evangelist Luke used to describe the first community of Jerusalem in the Book of Acts mentions the presence of Mary, “the Mother of Jesus.” The feast thus highlights Mary’s role at Pentecost as the bridge between the stories of Jesus and the story of the early Church. 

The Pentecost panel in the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception shows the Twelve Apostles gathered around Mary with the dove of the Holy Spirit hovering over her and tongues of fire over each of them. The Apostles Peter and John are shown kneeling at the feet of the seated Blessed Virgin. Though Peter is the leader of the Apostles, it is Mary who is at the heart of the disciples gathered together to prepare for the Spirit’s coming. 

Mary had already experienced the working of the Holy Spirit at the Annunciation, when it was due to the Spirit’s overshadowing power that she became the Virgin Mother. Jesus renewed her motherhood at the foot of the Cross when He entrusted Mary to the Apostle John and John to His Mother. Jesus makes her the “Mother of the Church.” 

– Br. Thomas Sullivan, OSB

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