November 05, 2013

Study Mary with the Popes

By Cheryl Dickow *

I was so delighted to receive permission from Libreria Editrice Vaticana to collect a dozen papal encyclicals together in one book for a truly unique Marian study. As I shared with the prelate, my goal for the gathering of these documents was to show how the teachings of Mary have evolved through inspired revelations beginning with Pope Leo XIII in 1891 and ending with Pope John Paul II’s 1987 encyclical Redemptoris Mater (The Blessed Virgin Mary in the Life of the Church).

It was an honor and a privilege to write study questions and reflections for these documents—definitely a dream come true for the teacher in me. My approach stems from my own love of Mary which begins in her role as a Jewish mother; and it is from that perspective that I take this journey back in time to unveil Marian doctrine in the Church. In fact, I was recently able to share my reversion story on Journey Home with Marcus Grodi which has made the opportunity to do this study on Mary all the more meaningful.

Reading the words of our popes – those prophetic teachers – gave me an understanding how this Jewish mother came to be so revered in the Catholic faith. The encyclicals that begin with understanding Church teaching on the Rosary, and for more than 100 years move through time to the fullest understanding of Mary as co-Redemptrix, are life-changing. They allowed me to take this beloved Jewish mother and see how providence ordained her role in salvation history. And now I invite you to take this journey as well.

The encyclicals are reprinted in their entirety and, according to the Vatican requirements, have not been edited. This means that some use the language or spelling of the day – all of which adds to the profound experience of reading these incredible documents gathered in one book. They are:

Octobri Menseo September 22, 1891- Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII on the Rosary

Laetitiae Sancae September 8, 1893 - Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII Commending Devotion to the Rosary

Iucunda Semper Expectatione September 8, 1894 - Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII on the Rosary

Adiutricem September 5, 1895 - Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII on the Rosary

Fidentem Piumque Animum September 20, 1896 - Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII on the Rosary

Augustissimae Virginis Mariae September 12, 1897 - Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII on the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary

Diuturni Temporis September 5, 1898 - Encyclicalof Pope Leo XIII on the Rosary

Quamquam Pluries August 16, 1898 - Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII on Devotion to St. Joseph

Deiparae Virginis Mariae May 1, 1946 - Encyclical of Pope Pius XII on the Possibility of Defining the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary as a Dogma

Apostolic Constitution  November 1, 1950 - Encyclical of Pope Pius XII Defining the Dogma of the Assumption

Ad Caeli Reginiam October 11, 1954 - Encyclical of Pope Pius XII on Proclaiming the Queenship of Mary

Grata Recordatio September 26, 1959 - Encyclical of Pope John XXIII on the Rosary: Prayer for the Church, Missions, International and Social Problems

Redemptoris Mater March 25, 1987 - Encyclical of John Paul II on the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Life of the Pilgrim Church

As far as my responsibility as editor in this book, I did my best to simply exist in the background and guide the reader through these prophetic papal documents in a way that the questions and reflections try to make each document deeply personal and relevant. For instance, while reading one of Pope Leo’s encyclicals, you are asked to reflect on such questions as: How was Mary able to represent every person in her fiat? What is the connection between Jesus as the way to the Father and Mary as the way to Christ

Ultimately, I pray you will like what I’ve done as I’ve tried to be faithful to the guidance of the Holy Spirit throughout.

November 21st is the Feast Day of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and makes the month a particularly beautiful month to begin a Marian study with the Popes—especially as it leads into December with the 1st being the beginning of Advent.

This work is consecrated to Jesus through Mary and really will make the Marian Feast Days of November and December that much more powerful as you delve into the papal writings (with Vatican permission!) on the role that Mary plays as our Mother and as co-Redemptrix.

If you would like to use this book as a study, it is available to purchase individually or in groups of five.

Of course, if you would like to purchase larger quantities, please email me at [email protected]. And if you have any questions about setting up the study, I’d be glad to help.

God bless you on your journey.

Cheryl Dickow is a Catholic wife, mother, author and speaker. Cheryl’s newest book is Miriam: Repentance and Redemption in Rome. It is the sequel to her first fiction book Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage. Both are available in paperback, Kindle, or Nook format. Her company is Bezalel Books where her goal is to publish great Catholic books for families and classrooms that entertain while uplifting the Catholic faith and is located at To invite Cheryl to speak at your event, write her at [email protected] or phone her at 248.917.3865.

* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.


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