The role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the latter times

Rev. Karl Stehlin, Director of the Militia Immaculatae

An abridged article from, March 2017

It is an undisputed fact that the most Blessed Virgin Mary is to play a unique part in the end times. On the one hand, one can perceive the extraordinary development of Catholic doctrine as to her person and mission (Mariology), and on the other, she manifests herself ever more frequently in various apparitions rigorously examined and approved by the Church. At the same time, holy personages arise, whose life, writings, and activity indicate a particular intervention of the Mother of God who uses them as her instruments in realising the most astounding ventures in the history of the Church. Devotion towards Our Lady has steadily grown, and as a consequence, lives have overflowed with holiness as well as a resolute resistance against all forms of evil (heresies, immorality, or governments bereft of religion).

Development of Mariology

In Antiquity

In the first centuries of the Church, devotion towards the Blessed Virgin Mary was very vigorous as attested to by countless texts of the Fathers of the Church. Already in the second century, St. Justin1 and St. Irenaeus2 taught that she was the “New Eve” cooperating with the New Adam, Jesus Christ, for the redemption of souls. By then, Ss. Ephraim, Ambrose, Augustine, Cyril of Alexandria, Germanus of Constantinople, and John Damascene extol her Immaculate Conception. The greatest veneration was paid to Mary as the “God-bearing one” (Theotokos). The Church Fathers are nearly unanimous on this. The Council of Ephesus (431) proclaimed the first Marian dogma: that Mary is truly the Mother of God:

If anyone does not profess that Emmanuel is truly God and therefore the Most Blessed Virgin is the Mother of God (because the Word of God became flesh in her womb) let him be anathema!3

The Marian spirituality of the Fathers of the Church is particularly manifested by the sacred liturgy of the East in its magnificent composition Hymnos Akathistos, a long litany in honour of the Mother of God, which presents her various lofty virtues and grandeurs.

In the Middle Ages

Marian devotion evolved in the tweflth century particularly through the recitation of the Holy Rosary. According to tradition, St. Dominic received the rosary from the hands of Our Lady, while in the year 1251, Simon Stock, reformer of the Carmel order, received from her what is known as the Scapular of Carmel, popularly known as the “Brown Scapular”: a miniature habit, the wearing of which bestows many graces, not least of which, “Whoever dies clothed in this garment shall not suffer eternal fire.”

The Franciscan theological tradition endeavoured to elucidate, as well as propagate, the teaching on the Immaculate Conception.

From the nineteenth century

It was not until the nineteenth century that Mariology was once more revived through the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary4 by Pope Pius IX (1854) in his Bull Ineffabilis Deus. On the foundation of this dogma, the teaching on the spiritual motherhood of Mary evolved.5

Another consequence of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception is the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Not only did Pope Pius XII insert this Feast within the liturgical cycle as a holy day of higher rank (II Class) but also in closing his encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi, he consecrated the people of the whole world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

In his encyclical Octobri Mense,6 Pope Leo XIII spoke of the Mother of God as Mediatrix of All Graces. So did Pope St. Pius X in Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum7  and Pius XII in his encyclical on the universal Queenship of Mary, Ad Coeli Regina.8 By his Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus (1 Nov 1959), Pope Pius XII proclaimed the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven, body and soul.9

In the preparatory work for the Second Vatican Council, the central committee received approximately 600 requests from the bishops, who asked that the general council might elaborate on the doctrine concerning the Blessed Virgin Mary. Amongst this number, 311 insisted on the proclamation of the dogma “Mary Mediatrix of All Grace” and 127 on the proclamation of other definitions, as for example, “Mary, Co-Redemptrix”.10

After the Second Vatican Council

The new ecumenical orientation within the Church together with the Council’s reforms sounded the death knell for theological development regarding the Mother of God. In the inter-religious dialogue with non-Christian denominations there is no room for Mary, and among Protestants, Marian dogmas are an affront. It is incorrect to presume that contacts with the Orthodox Church regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary would not constitute a “problem.” Even here, impediments are encountered because the Orthodox do not recognise the dogmas proclaimed by the Catholic Church after the seventh or eighth General Councils.

The neglect of Mariology increases the risk of piety of the faithful being severed from its dogmatic base and therefore losing itself in subjective sentimentality or credulous attachment to false and heretical visions.

Apparitions of the Mother of God

In parallel with the unfolding of Catholic teaching regarding the Mother of God, Our Lady deigns to appear solemnly and more often to her children. In her past apparitions, it appears that their main purpose was the personal relationship between the visionary and the Mother of God herself or a relationship with a particular monastery, a designated group of people, or to a specific country. Prominent apparitions of consequence for the whole world began only at the onset of the modern era. It seems that as the battle against God and His Church escalates and the Masonic spirit of materialism and liberalism flourish unabated, the Mother of God personally intervenes ever more frequently in order to confirm Catholics in the Faith as well as to convey the appropriate remedies.

In Guadalupe (1531), the Mother of God appeared to Bl. Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill (9, 10, 12 Dec) and left her image on his tilma (work apron). While a third of the population of Europe were falling into Protestantism, the vast Continent of South America embraced the Catholic faith.

In Paris (1830), as Europe continued to reel from the French Revolution, Our Lady appeared to Catherine Labouré, a novice of the Sisters of Mercy. She instructed her to make a medal inscribed with the words: “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee” and promised singular graces to those who wore it. The medal came to be known as the “miraculous medal” through the innumerable miracles which were realised and continue to be granted through its instrumentality throughout the whole world.

At La Salette (1846) in France. Within the bosom of the Church, especially in France, the spirit of liberal Catholicism began to manifest itself in the clergy which desired to reconcile the principles of revolution with the Church. Despite the condemnation of the principles of liberal Catholicism by Pope Gregory XVI in his Bull Mirari Vos, this spirit quickly spread throughout Europe. This heralded the beginning of Modernism. The Mother of God visited the little mountain village of La Salette. Here she appeared to two shepherds, Melanie and Maximin. Her message came to be known as “the apocalypse of the Mother of God”, wherein she treated of the end times and of the Antichrist. In a frightful manner, she described the fall of the clergy and the apostasy of nations, and called for prayer and penance.

At Lourdes (1858), the Mother of God appeared 18 times and imparted to the visionary, Bernadette Soubirous, the entire spiritual program by which each Catholic should direct himself in his own life: “I promise to make you happy, not in this life but the next”—“Pray for sinners”—“Penance, penance, penance!” On 25 March, she revealed herself in these terms: “I am the Immaculate Conception!” This is the revelation of the deepest mystery of Our Lady’s interior life. At Lourdes, the Immaculata laid the spiritual and theological foundation for her role in the latter times:

The goal of each person is to belong to God through Jesus Christ, our Mediator with the Father, and to belong to Jesus Christ through the Immaculata, Mediatrix of all grace.11

At Fatima (1917), the world was at war, atheistic communism triumphed in Russia and freemasonry celebrated a victorious two-hundredth anniversary particularly in Rome. The Fatima apparitions are the apex of the Marian movement of the latter times. In the face of Satan’s victory in the world, the Mother of God once more offered herself to the people “as the last rung of hope”. This last resort is her Immaculate Heart to which the whole world is to be consecrated, but particularly Russia.

Until the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), Marian devotion flourished and the Church with it, but after the Council, a new religion of man replaced the old religion of God. Millions of faithful left the Catholic Church in order to join various sects or to embrace atheism. And, of those who formally remained Catholic, only some 5–10% regularly practise their faith. Sins against God and nature abound (60 million abortions per annum, pornography, contraception, euthanasia and homosexuality now enjoy statutory rights). The Sacred Scriptures and the Church call these times apocalyptic.

Role of the Immaculate in the latter times

“The salvation of the world began through Mary and through Mary it must be consummated.”12 With these words, St. Louis Grignion de Montfort explains why Mary will appear especially at the second coming of Jesus Christ in the latter times.13 Her role is prophesied in the decisive battle between the Virgin and the dragon in chapter 12 of the Apocalypse. In the measure that the spirit of atheism permeates the world, she has appeared and brought help to the faithful. As the ideals of masonry and the enemies of Christ triumphed in the world, devotion towards the Mother of God increased and became—and will become again—the cause of the greatest expansion of Catholic missionary activity in the history of the Church. St. Irenaeus of Lyon says:

What Lucifer has lost by pride, Mary has gained by humility. What Eve has damned and lost by disobedience, Mary has saved by obedience. Eve, in obeying the serpent, has destroyed all her children together with herself, and has delivered them to him; Mary, in being perfectly faithful to God, has saved all her children and servants together with herself, and has consecrated them to His Majesty.14

What must we do in these latter times?

What is required to be numbered amongst her children? St. Louis Grignion de Montfort says that children of Mary should be:

...true disciples of Jesus Christ, walking in the footsteps of His poverty, humility, charity and with contempt of the world; teaching the narrow way of God in pure truth, according to the holy Gospel, and not according to the maxims of the world; troubling themselves about nothing; not accepting persons; sparing, fearing and listening to no mortal, however influential he may be. They shall have in their mouths the two-edged sword of the Word of God. They shall carry on their shoulders the bloody standard of the cross, the crucifix in their right hand and the rosary in their left, the sacred Names of Jesus and Mary in their hearts, and the modesty and mortification of Jesus Christ in their own behaviour.15

“In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph!”

As the morning star precedes the sun, so the triumph of Mary will prepare the triumph of Jesus Christ. That is why the first promise of salvation resounds: “she shall crush thy head” (Gen 3:16). The Church in her liturgy says of Mary: “You have vanquished all the heresies in the world!” In Fatima, we hear from the lips of the Mother of God these encouraging words: “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph”16 and St. Maximilian also expresses his conviction: “The will of God is that the Immaculata conquer all hearts.”17 —“When will she conquer the world? When will her Niepokalanów ("City of the Immaculata") arise in every country and her “knight” appear in every language, come to every home, palace, and hovel? When will her medal rest on every breast and each heart in the world beat for her? I think that there is no better means of hastening this blessed moment than if each one of us will endeavour to continually deepen his consecration to the Immaculata.

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  • 1Dialogue with the Jew Tryphon (155 AD) in MG (Migne, J.P., Patrologiae cursus completus, Series graeca (Paris, 1857) 6, 713; also M.J. Rouetde Joumel, Enchiridion Patristicum, 142.
  • 2Adversus Haereses 3,22,4 (170 AD) in MG 7, 959.
  • 3Denzinger-Schoenmetzer (DS) Enchiridion Symbolorum, Definitionum et Declaracionum, no.252 (Freiburg, 1965).
  • 4DS 2803.
  • 5DS 3370.
  • 6DS 3274–3275.
  • 7DS 3370–3371.
  • 8DS 3916–3917.
  • 9DS 3900–3904.
  • 10Analyticus conspectus consiliorum et votorum quae ab episcopis et praelatis data sunt, T. 1 (Rome, 1960).
  • 11Do Idealu MI: Thoughts of St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe (Niepokalanów, 1996) Idem p. 21.
  • 12Ibid. p.70.
  • 13St. Louis Grignion de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary, (Torun, 1996) pp.67-69.
  • 14St. Louis Grignion de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary, (Torun, 1996) pp.69–70
  • 15St. Louis Grignion de Montfort, True Devo- tion to Mary, Torun 1996, pp. 75–76.
  • 16Fatima Apparitions (July 13, 1917).
  • 17Do Idealu MI. p.77.