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Queen Mother

The ancient title "Queen Mother" for Our Lady stems from the office of the Gebirah or “Great Lady” in early Israelite society. The Gebirah referred to the mother of the sitting king who was bestowed an honored position of advocacy due to her relationship to the monarch. The title foreshadowed the future intercessory role of Mary as Advocate and Mother of the Messiah.  

Unlike later European queens, the king often maintained numerous wives of various rankings and influence. Yet the Gebirah stood apart as the highest queen holding special authority to advocate for petitioners seeking assistance or justice from the throne. 

Biblical accounts display the queen mother’s power of intercession with the ruler. In 1 Kings chapter 2, Bathsheba approaches newly crowned King Solomon with a request introduced simply as “one small petition” on behalf of another royal subject. Solomon immediately promises to grant whatever she asks out of sacred respect for his mother’s advocacy. 

Additional roles associated with the Gebirah included advising the king on governance issues, sitting enthroned beside him in court and potentially helping manage household affairs. The queen mother served as living liaison bridging external needs of the kingdom with the internal decision-making process of the monarch. Her advocacy proved vital for obtaining favorable outcomes in many situations.

King David's mother actively helped moderate royal justice, fairness and responsiveness through her intercessory function backed by the filial bond with her son. This politically prominent role of the Hebrew queen mother provides a culturally meaningful archetype foreshadowing the later spiritual advocacy, compassion and influence of Mary for all struggling souls seeking mercy from heaven’s throne room.

Some of the earliest references identifying the Virgin Mary with the royal role of "Queen Mother" trace back to writings by the early Church fathers Eusebius and Jerome in the 4th-5th centuries:

  • One of the first known patristic sources is Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 260–340 AD). In his commentary on Psalm 44, he states that the honor given to the queen who sits at the king's right hand refers prophetically to "the virgin mother of God, to whom even in heaven after the ascension of her Son, all things as of one having kingly thrones on high were granted.”

  • Saint Jerome (c. 342-420 AD) also identified Mary as fulfilling the Old Testament role of the Gebirah, the Queen Mother who interceded with the King. In his treatise on the perpetual virginity of Blessed Mary, Jerome states that through her divine maternity “Mary was made the Lady and Mistress of the world, since to her was committed a King whom all the kingdoms of heaven and earth cannot contain.”

  • By 496 AD, Pope Gelasius I in his encyclical letter on the Dormition of Mary referred to her as "mother of Him who reigns" and "truly mother of God’s only Son, who rules all peoples."


So from quite early on, eminent Church fathers perceived Mary as specifically fulfilling the honorable offices of the glorified Queen Mother often seen in Israelite tradition. They readily recognized her connection to the prophecy from Psalm 45 regarding the magnificent Queen consort enthroned beside the Messianic king.

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