Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel, CFR
A thousand angels were equipped for her guard and custody that they might serve as most faithful vassals of their Queen and Lady.
~Venerable Mary of Agreda, Life of the Virgin Mother of God, 17th century
The above extraordinary insight was taken from a private revelation concerning the number of guardian angels that were assigned by God to be protectors of the Virgin Mary in her life. As a strictly private revelation we do not have to believe it as a dogma of the Catholic Faith, but there is no harm in imagining as true that the Virgin Mary had a thousand guardian angels to accompany her on her journey throughout life! Venerable Mary of Agreda described this cohort of angels as being made up of one hundred from each of the nine choirs of angels, with “twelve others who should in a special manner assist Mary in corporeal and visible form” and “eighteen other angels, selected from the highest ranks” and “seventy seraphim, choosing them from the highest ranks and from those nearest to the Divinity.” Such an entourage would be most fitting for any queen but especially for the exalted Queen of Heaven! It is not hard to see why Mary has become known to the Christian tradition as the “Queen of Angels” and is often depicted in Christian iconography as surrounded by holy angels in heaven.
As modern Americans, we are not accustomed to the affairs of royalty. In fact, we have very little imagery in our national consciousness to make us monarchists in heart or mind. Yet, in a certain sense, as Christians we have to adapt our thinking to the reality that we have a Queen (or more fittingly, a Queen Mother) in heaven who sits at the right hand of the King and plays a dynamic role in the affairs of all the subjects of the realm, meaning the souls that God wishes to be with Him in heaven.
First and foremost, we must realize that Mary’s Queenship was the first test case for the angels. Before time began, the angels were asked to accept the authority of a human queen who would eventually rule over them. Some angels had no problem in accepting the authority of the God-Man, Jesus, assuming human form and commanding them, but when it came to accepting the authority of a simple human child, a female with no rank, no special status or power, those same angels rebelled against the very idea and lost their place in heaven. In other words, before Mary was even created she was exercising a decisive role in the history of salvation. The faithful angels recognized from the start that they would have Mary as their Queen, and they rejoiced in the awesome mystery of God’s plan.
As Queen, Mary commands the angels to do what is necessary for the salvation of souls. She may have a thousand guardian angels for her own, but she has literal command over the entire multitude of angels in heaven, and they understand their role as servants of God’s mysterious plan in union with the desires of their Queen. There could only be one human mother of the Redeemer of mankind, Jesus Christ, and they knew that when she was finally revealed in time, she would bear the authority of her Son. So now, they take orders from her as powerful spirits under authority, servants of the grand plan of salvation, as loving caretakers of souls which Mary is so intimately concerned about.
Above all, Mary loves the angels because of their fidelity to God, and they love her tenderly and fervently in return. They are pure as she is pure. Their virtue and strength are reflections of her own, and their desire for the glory of God and the salvation of souls burns as deeply in their hearts as it does in her who proclaimed from the beginning, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior!” (Luke 2:46)
When we think of Mary as Queen, let us remember that the first of her “Queen” titles is “Queen of Angels,” those firstborn creatures of God who work with Mary to get us to heaven. If the angels sing to God the Church’s refrain of “Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus!” (Holy, Holy, Holy!) then we can sing with the angels the Church’s familiar hymn, “Hail Holy Queen,” in praising Mary as the Queen of Angels and saints:
“Cry out, all ye Cherubim! / Sing with us, ye Seraphim! / Heaven and earth resound the hymn / Salve! Salve! Salve, Regina!”
Holy Mary, “Queen of Angels” and inspiration of saints, send the holy angelic servants of Christ to give us assistance in the trials and tribulations of this life and command them to lead us from all worldly pleasures to the joys of God’s Kingdom where Jesus lives and reigns, forever and ever. Amen.
[Excerpted from: Fr. Benedict Groeschel, Jesus and Mary: In Praise of their Glorious Names, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc.: Huntington, Indiana, 2012.]