Collection: Our Lady, Queen of the Angels
ARTIST: Br. Arturo Olivas, OFS
Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles is one of the titles or advocations of the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of Christ. Mary has been associated with references to angels since ancient times beginning with the annunciation by the angel Gabriel to the many apparitions of Mary accompanied by angels. Her title of queen is partly rooted in pre-Christian goddess figures such as Diana, Astarte, and Isis who were also referred to as queen. In Christian belief, Mary’s title of queen is derived from the kingship of her Son, Jesus Christ, who is King of Kings. Mary bears the name queen because of the role she played in the conception, birth, life, and death of Jesus. As she shared in his joys and sorrows, she shares in His glorious triumph.
The title of Reina de los Angeles, Queen of Angels, is found in the Litany of Mary. It is also part of the name given to the 18th century California town founded by the Spanish which today is simply known as “L.A.” St. Francis of Assisi began his mission at a little chapel dedicated to Our Lady Queen of Angels of Porciuncula.
In New Mexico the 17th century mission church at the native pueblo of Pecos was dedicated to Nuestra Señora, Reina de los Angeles. In sacred art Mary is shown with hands clasped and surrounded by angels who crown her or hold a crown above her head.
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In the Providence of God, angels played a significant role in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary. St. Gabriel the Archangel had the privilege of announcing to the humble Virgin of Nazareth that God had chosen her to be the Mother of the Savior. Scripture also reports that an angel assisted Our Lady by telling St. Joseph not to fear to take her as his wife. Angels sang the praises of God when Mary gave birth to Christ in the stable at Bethlehem. And an angel instructed Joseph to flee to Egypt with Mary and the Child to escape from the machinations of the murderous Herod.
No doubt there were other times, not recorded in Scripture, when God sent His angels to minister to Our Lady. It would not be unreasonable to imagine that an angel prepared Mary for a visit from her Risen Son on Easter morning. And surely an angelic host accompanied the Blessed Mother when she was assumed into heaven and crowned as Queen of heaven and of earth, of men and of angels. Angels continue to serve the Blessed Virgin Mary as their Queen.
The angels' acknowledgment of the humble maid of Nazareth as their Queen manifests both the great holiness of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the humility of the good angels. Our Lady's human nature is inferior to the angelic nature, but in the order of grace, Mary far surpasses the angels. Indeed, her sanctity is greater than all the angels and saints in heaven. And the angels humbly and lovingly accept that a woman is their glorious Queen because she is the Mother of God.
At least two well-known shrines to Our Lady of the Angels exist. According to pious tradition, in 1212, robbers set upon three merchants who were traveling through a desolate forest in France. The robbers, after stealing the merchants' possessions, left them tied to trees. After a day and night of constant prayer by the merchants, angels appeared to unbind them. Nearby the merchants discovered a stream that they believed to be miraculous. In thanksgiving, they decided to build a shrine to Our Lady of the Angels there. Numerous miracles began to occur at the shrine. Enemies of Christ destroyed the shrine Our Lady of the Angels of Toulouse during the French Revolution, but it has been rebuilt. The original statue, richly clothed and bedecked with precious stones, has survived.
Our Lady, Queen of the Angels is the Patroness of Costa Rica. Pius tradition relates that in 1635 a young mulatto girl, while looking for firewood, found a small statue of the Blessed Virgin holding the Infant Jesus sitting on a large stone. Several times she took the statue home with her only to discover the next day that it had mysteriously returned to the original location where she had first seen it. The girl told her parish priest who took possession of the statue only to have the same experience of the statue returning to its place on the stone. "La Negrita" as she is called by Costa Ricans is housed in a beautiful gold reliquary in a large shrine dedicated to Our Lady, Queen of the Angels.
—Excerpts from Our Lady, Queen of Angels by John O'Connell.
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