Mary, Seat of Wisdom and Queen of Heroes

Avengers: End Game spoilers ahead!

In Avengers: Endgame Thor is a physical and emotional mess. He has turned to abusing food, alcohol and video games to cope with the overwhelming anguish he feels after Thanos kills half of the people in the universe, including many of his friends. Notwithstanding his weak state, Thor travels with Rocket to Asgard of the past to retrieve one of the Infinity Stones. While he is there, he encounters his mother, Queen Frigga.

Thor knows Frigga will be murdered that same day and is paralyzed by grief. During a tender scene, the hero despairs over his failures and calls himself and idiot. Frigga responds, “You’re no idiot. You’re here aren’t you? Seeking counsel from the wisest person in Asgard.” She tells Thor, though he may have failed, so does everyone else. And then she speaks one of the most powerful lines in the movie, “The measure of a person, of a hero, is how well they succeed at being who they are.”

The New Testament does not say a lot about the Virgin Mary, yet we can gain insight into who she is from the Old Testament and also what we know about queen mothers of the ancient near eastern world. From these insights and from our Sacred Tradition, the Church has developed many devotions and intercessory prayers to Our Lady. One of the most beautiful prayers is the Litany of Loreto, also known as the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

The Litany of Loreto contains many of Mary’s titles and, like the Rosary, deepens our love for her and our understanding of her role within the Church. One of Mary’s titles from the Litany is “Seat of Wisdom.” It is interesting that, though this title derives from Mary’s relationship to her Son (as the vessel, ark or tabernacle of Christ, Wisdom Incarnate), wisdom is depicted as feminine in the Old Testament.

This may be a simple detail of the Hebrew language, but it makes sense from a historical perspective as well because the most important advisor to an ancient near eastern king was not his wife or his many servants, but his queen mother, for her good counsel grew from of her unfailing devotion to her beloved son, the king, and not from her own personal interests. 

Proverbs sheds some light on lady wisdom, the woman of valor. 

Who can find a woman of worth [translated from Hebrew, eshet hayil: woman of force, woman of valor, woman of strength]? Far beyond jewels is her value. Her husband trusts her judgment; he does not lack income. She brings him profit, not loss, all the days of her life. She girds herself with strength; she exerts her arms with vigor. She enjoys the profit from her dealings; her lamp is never extinguished at night.

She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy. She is not concerned for her household when it snows — all her charges are doubly clothed. She makes her own coverlets; fine linen and purple are her clothing. Her husband is prominent at the city gates as he sits with the elders of the land. She is clothed with strength and dignity, and laughs at the days to come.

She opens her mouth in wisdom; kindly instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband, too, praises her.

Proverbs 31:10-28

Through baptism we become adopted sons and daughters of God–priests, prophets and kings. Like the kings of old, let us not hesitate to turn to our Queen Mother. The Litany of Loreto tells us Mary is “Queen of All Saints,” the men and women of heroic virtue. In this respect, Mary is also Queen of Heroes.

As the hero Thor wept in the arms of Queen Frigga, so we may weep in the arms of our Queen Mother. In our brokenness, she assures us that everything will be okay if we do whatever her Son tells us (John 2:6). When we receive and put her wise counsel into action, then we will be who God wants us to be. Heroes for her Son. Saints.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: