Mary can help us, firstly, if
she has the power to help and, secondly, if she is willing to help. Firstly,
Mary indeed has the power to help us by virtue of her being the Mother of
Christ, as having found favor with God and as being the Spouse of the Holy
Spirit. And, secondly, she is surely willing to help us by virtue of the
command given to her by Christ ". . .Mother, behold they son."
Even without Christ's command, Mary, as a holy person, would have helped us.
But, strengthened by Christ's command, Mary's help is sure to come.
Her role as helper, firstly, in
the salvation of our souls was affirmed by her first credible apparition.
St. Gregory of Nyssa narrated that Our Lady appeared to St. Gregory the
Wonderworker, with St. John the Apostle, and was ordering John to teach
Gregory "the mystery of true piety."
Alexander of Alexandria and
Athanasius were the first to propose that imitation of Mary is a means of
attaining Christian perfection. And the Gnomai or proverbs of the Council of
Nicaea states: "You have the conduct of Mary, who is the type and image
of the life that is proper to heaven." And St. Ambrose adds:
"Mary's life is a rule of life for all."
Cu Cuimhe the Wise (747), an
Irish poet, in his Cantemus in Omni Die, described Mary thus: "We must
intercede to Mary for our eternal salvation and escape the flames and dwell
The word ADVOCATA was used by
St. Irenaeus in Adversus Haereses to describe Mary's role. This became
popular in medieval times signifying Mary's special power of intercession:
"Virginal obedience should undo and destroy virginal
St. Romanos the singer (6th
century), pictures Mary addressing our sad fallen first parents thus:
"Cease your lamentations. I shall be your advocate with my Son."
Towards the end of the 6th century, Theoteknos of Livias called Mary the
"advocate of the human race."
Advocate was her title in
Eastern hymnography. In the 12th century, she was referred to as Advocata
Nostra in the Salve Regina, in a form of prayer known from the 9th century
Thus, beginning with the great
Benedictine Monastery of Cluny, the Salve Regina was sung daily. The
practice was picked up by the Dominicans and the Franciscans by the 13th
St. Catherine of Sienna prayed
much to Mary in her great work of reforming the Church for "nothing can
be refused her."
A footnote in American history
narrates that Christopher Columbus, despairing in finding the New World,
sung the Salve Regina. Next day, they sighted the Americas.
St. Peter Canisius described
succinctly the role and influence of Mary: "The mother of the Judge and
the mother of the accused is the same."