Today, the last day of the month of May, the month dedicated to Mary, is also the Feast of the Visitation of Mary when she goes “in haste” to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, who has “conceived a son in her old age.” In this episode from Scripture, we see Mary described in the role of the Queen-Mother. The Gospel of Luke tells us that Elizabeth, the elder of the two women, nevertheless receives Mary as a person of greater stature, of higher importance. Elizabeth proclaims:
Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
Elizabeth calls Mary “the mother of my Lord,” and the one who is “blessed among all women.” These designations are a way of referring to the special title and role that Mary holds in the Kingdom of God. In the Jewish tradition, the role of the Queen-Mother stretched all the way back to the time of King Solomon, around 950 BC. The Queen-Mother had three very specific tasks. First, she had a certain amount of authority in her son’s kingdom, secondly, she was an advisor to the king and lastly, she was an advocate for the people who belonged to the kingdom of her son. We know that Mary keeps all three of these tasks. In fact, she appears like a glorious queen during her apparitions at Fatima, when she is dressed in the colors of gold and white, the colors typically associated with the glory of God during the liturgical calendar.
The Visitation itself is one of the mysteries of the rosary, being the second decade in the 5 Joyful Mysteries. Even though Mary is usually referred to as Our Lady of Fatima, her official title for these May apparitions is “Our Lady of the Holy Rosary at Fatima.” That name change makes a big difference. Calling Mary “Our Lady of Fatima” emphasizes the secrets and the supernatural aspect of Fatima. These are indeed notable, to be sure, but they can also quickly become overwhelming. Remembering that Mary is actually named "Our Lady of the Holy Rosary at Fatima" gets to the heart of her message. It enables us to carry out the message that she relayed - Pray, offer sacrifices and repent. In other words, get out your rosary beads. The solution to war, strife and suffering - literally- lies in your own hands. It is not beyond reach, or too high above us. It is in the humble act of daily prayer.
It is helpful to remember the words of Pope Pius XII who said ""The gates of hell will never prevail, where Mary offers her protection. She is the good mother, the mother of all, and it has never been heard that those who seek her protection, will not receive it. She will help! Error will be overcome with her assistance and divine grace." She is our great Queen-Mother who will come “in haste” to aid us.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us now and at the hour of our death, and pray for those who never pray to you, now and at the hour of their death. Amen.