The feast of Mary’s Queenship is closely connected to her Immaculate Heart and the revelations at Fatima.
In the midst of World War II something had to be done. Pope Pius XII, seeing all the carnage, made a firm decision to consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in direct response to the plea of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima.The consecration was conducted on Oct. 31, 1942, during the year that celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions. Pope Pius XII prayed, “O, Mother of Mercy, obtain peace for us from God! Obtain especially those graces, which can convert human hearts quickly. Those graces, which can prepare, establish and insure peace. Queen of Peace, pray for us; Give the world at war the peace for which all are longing, Peace in truth, Justice and the Charity of Christ. Give them peace of the arms and peace of mind, that in tranquility and order the kingdom of God may expand.”
Then two years later on May 4, 1944, Pope Pius XII established the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on August 22, the octave day of the feast of the Assumption. He did so that by her intercession may be obtained “peace among nations, freedom for the Church, the conversion of sinners, the love of purity and the practice of virtue.”
Fast forward to 1954 when the Cold War was in its early stages and Pope Pius XII issued his encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam. In it he declared “by Our Apostolic authority We decree and establish the feast of Mary’s Queenship, which is to be celebrated every year in the whole world on the 31st of May. We likewise ordain that on the same day the consecration of the human race to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary be renewed, cherishing the hope that through such consecration a new era may begin, joyous in Christian peace and in the triumph of religion.”
Then after the Second Vatican Council and the revision of the General Calendar, Pope Paul VI decided to switch these feasts. The feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was joined to the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (celebrated on the Saturday following the feast of the Sacred Heart) and the Queenship of Mary was moved to August 22. This was in part to recognize the fact that Mary’s queenship is closely connected to that of her Assumption into heaven.
Nevertheless, these two feasts are clearly interconnected. As we recite in the Litany of Loreto, Mary is the “Queen of Peace,” but she is also known as the “Queen of Hearts.” Simeon spoke prophetically of this title when he said to the Virgin Mary, “and a sword will pierce through your own soul also, that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:35). She knows our hearts and sees the sorrow in them and responds when we lay our cares before her.
The institution of these two feasts show that Mary’s queenship is closely tied to her Immaculate Heart and it is from that heart that she desires peace in our hearts and in the world. If we hope for peace in this world during the centenary year of Our Lady of Fatima, let us turn to the Virgin Mary and pray to her, hoping that a “new era may begin, joyous in Christian peace.”