Mariological papal documents

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 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


Coat of arms of Pius X
Pius XII's signature
John Paul II Coat of arms with the Marian Cross

Apostolic exhortation

Apostolic Letters

Gloriosae Dominae

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

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

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

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