& Queen of Creation Collage
I am a convert to the Catholic Church. The life of St. Francis of Assisi led me to Christ, the Catholic Church, and also to Mary. As I deepen my relationship with Jesus, I am also deepening my love and devotion for Mary, His Mother. This collage represents one way in which I am trying to express this devotion. I share this collage along with my notes and reflections on the symbolism of the images in the hope that others may benefit from a deeper devotion to Mary and be led to her son, Jesus Christ.
- Bro. Jeffrey, T.O.R.
A Salutation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
by St. Francis of Assisi
Hail, O Lady,
Mary, holy Mother of God,
Who are the Virgin made Church,
chosen by the most Holy Father in heaven
whom He consecrated with His most holy beloved Son
and with the Holy Spirit the Paraclete,
in whom there was and is
all fullness of grace and every good.
Hail His Palace!
Hail His Tabernacle!
Hail His Dwelling!
Hail His Robe!
Hail His Servant!
Hail His Mother!
And hail all You holy virtues
which are poured into the hearts of the faithful
through the grace and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit,
that from being unbelievers,
You may make them faithful to God.
† Titles Mother of the Incarnation and Queen of Creation: The Incarnation is the Word (divine nature) made flesh (human nature) in the one person of Jesus Christ; “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14) . While the title Mother of God refers to the divine nature of Jesus, the title Mother of the Incarnation refers to both the divine and human natures of Jesus.
From the title Mother of the Incarnation follows the title Queen of Creation. The Incarnation is the central focal point of creation. Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, is Christ the King in virtue of both His divine and human natures. First, Jesus would not be King if there was no creative act and no creatures to reign over. After all, the second person of the Trinity could not reign as King over the other two persons of the Trinity. There must be an ‘other’ outside of the Trinity for kingship to be possible. Jesus’ creative act is derived from His divine nature, and thus, the Creator is King of His creatures and reigns over all His creation.
Second, the kingship of Jesus is also derived from His human nature. “The title and the power of King belongs to Christ as man in the strict and proper sense too. For it is only as man that he may be said to have received from the Father “power and glory and a kingdom,” (Dan. 7:13-14) since the Word of God, as consubstantial with the Father, has all things in common with him, and therefore has necessarily supreme and absolute dominion over all things created.” “You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Lk 1:31-33).
Mary receives the title Queen of Creation by being mother to the King of creation. All of creation includes both the material and immaterial, the visible and invisible, creatures. So Mary, as Queen of Creation, is Queen of both the material universe and the immaterial heavens including the angels. Therefore, the titles Mother of the Incarnation and Queen of Creation are intimately linked and they both summarize many other aspects and titles of Mary.
† Salutation by St. Francis: The Salutation of the Blessed Virgin Mary by St. Francis can be described as Christ centered, Trinitarian, and Incarnational. Likewise, the collage is intended in include these same three themes. The six greetings in the center of the Salutation all involve a relationship between Mary and Jesus. The first three greetings describe the relationship between Mary and Jesus while He was in her womb and compare Mary (and her womb) to structures, or homes, of Jesus: palace, tabernacle, and dwelling. Palace refers to Jesus’ kingship, tabernacle to His divine nature, and dwelling to His human nature. The following three greetings describe the ongoing relationship between Mary and Jesus and reflect the same pattern. Robe refers to Jesus’ kingship, servant to His divine nature, and mother to His human nature.
† Mary: Mary is depicted as the woman from Revelation; “A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pangs, in the agony of giving birth” (Rev 12:1-2). The image of Mary is taken from a stained glass window at St. Bernadine Monastery, the Mother House of the Franciscan Friars Third Order Regular, Province of the Immaculate Conception. An image of the visible light spectrum is superimposed over her outer robe, so as to depict Mary as being literally “clothed with the sun.” She is standing on an actual image of the moon. The traditional imagery of Mary standing, or treading, on a serpent (symbolizing evil) is also employed.
Mary is wearing a crown adorned with five visible stars. One is invited to use one’s imagination and visualize the remaining seven stars (to complete the twelve stars from Revelation) continuing around the sides and back of the crown, unseen by the viewer. Seven symbolizes completion and goodness, and the seven unseen stars symbolize our hope for our humanly completeness which is our redemption and resurrection. “We ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Rom 8:23-25). “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. […] By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible” (Heb 11:1-3). Creation also shares in our redemption; “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rom 8:19-21).
The five visible stars on the five points of the crown represent the five pillars outside of the Jewish tabernacle (Ex 26:36) which housed the Ark of the Covenant, symbolizing that Mary, the Mother of the Incarnation, is analogous to the ancient tabernacle. Also, the lintel and doorposts to the entrance of the inner sanctuary of Solomon’s Temple which housed the Ark were five sided (1 Kings 6:31). The Jewish tabernacle housed the Ark of the Covenant which contained the two tablets of the Ten Commandments, Aaron’s staff, and manna (Heb 9:4). Likewise, the pregnant Mary contains within her womb Jesus Christ who is the Word made flesh, High Priest, and the Bread from Heaven. Mary is the Ark of the new and everlasting covenant; “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Lk 22:20).
† The serpent: While the serpent symbolizes evil, Mary’s standing on the serpent symbolizes the conquering of evil. The two heads of the serpent represent the direct opposites, or antitheses, to the great commandment given by Jesus, “The first is this, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mk 12:29-31).
The opposite of loving God with all one’s heart is idolatry. St. Paul equates idolatry to greed; “Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry)” (Col 3:5). “Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Eph 5:5). The serpent head clutching the money bag symbolizes greed/idolatry and it is placed on the left hand side of Mary which is closest to one’s physical heart symbolizing that our spiritual heart should imitate Mary’s and be devoted only to God.
The serpent head clutching the sword and spear symbolizes the opposites of loving one’s neighbor as oneself which are malice, violence, and war. The second serpent head is on the right hand side of Mary which is customarily a warrior’s weapon hand. “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isa 2:4).
† Jesus: Jesus is depicted as being in Mary’s womb. The letters IHS are initials for the name of Jesus and they are superimposed over Mary’s womb to symbolize that Jesus is present there.
† God the Father: God of the Father is represented by an image of two hands holding the moon on which Mary is standing. The two hands as a symbol for God the Father represent the anthropomorphic depiction of God as a potter and gardener in the Old Testament scriptures especially the Yahwist creation story in Genesis. “Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. And God planted a garden in Eden” (Gen 2:7-8). “Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Isa 64:8). “I am going to... pluck up what I have planted--that is the whole land” (Jer 45:4).
† The Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit is represented by the water flowing from the hands of God the Father. “[Jesus] cried out, “Those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life” (Jn 4:14). “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ Now He said this about the Spirit, which believers in Him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (Jn 7:37-39). Also, the water is flowing down upon the Earth representing the water that flowed from the crucified Christ; “One of the soldiers pierced [Jesus’] side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out” (Jn 19:34). The Holy Spirit is the “Lord and Giver of life” and renews the face of the Earth; “When You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground” (Ps 104:30).
In addition, the Holy Spirit is represented by the background nebula which resembles the outstretched wings and tail of a bird. The Holy Spirit is traditionally symbolized by a dove and the background image also plays on this symbolism. “And I John testified, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on [Jesus]’” (Jn 1:32). The ‘tail’ portion of the nebula is raining down on the Earth along side the flowing water symbolizing the grace that is given by the Holy Spirit; “And hail all You holy virtues which are poured into the hearts of the faithful through the grace and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, that from being unbelievers, You may make them faithful to God.”
† Background: The background is taken from an image of the Butterfly Nebula (planetary nebula NGC 6302). The nebula is emanating from the central point of Jesus in Mary’s womb symbolizing that all creation is from Christ. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and without Him not one thing came into being” (Jn 1:1-3). Also, the image of Jesus in the womb symbolizes the Incarnation which is the central focal point of creation. “[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in Him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible... all things have been created through Him and for Him. He Himself is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Col 1:15-17).
 The space images are from NASA/courtesy of nasaimages.org.
 All scripture quotes are from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) translation.
 His Holiness Pope Pius XI. Quas Primas - Encyclical on the Feast of Christ the King. (December 11, 1925).
 The initials, IHS, represent the first three letters of Jesus’ name in Greek, Iesous: iota-eta-sigma, or ΙΗΣ.
 Definition: described or thought of as having a human form or human attributes.
 Nicene Creed
 A Salutation of the Blessed Virgin Mary by St. Francis of Assisi