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Panagia as Queen of Heaven

panagia theotokos queen of heaven virgin mary

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#1 Anthony Cornett

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Posted 19 September 2014 - 05:01 AM

Hello again, it has been some time since I have been able to access the forums and post. Forgive the modified handle, each time I requested a new password for the former account, the newly created password did not allow me to sign in. Anyhow, please forgive me for any confusion, and if the Moderators would kindly merge my 2 accounts, that would be appreciated.

For this topic, I wish to discuss, or rather pose an inquiry as to the history and origin of the All-Holy Lady Theotokos being referred to as Queen of Heaven. My particular interest is the origin of the particular association in the East. Outside of the Proskomide Service, particularly the Psalm 44 reference when portioning the Panagia, and perhaps some references by St Nicholas Cavasilas, I haven't been able to find anything else. It is my understanding that the Proskomide Service was developed around the time of St Nicholas Cavasilas, perhaps a short while before. It is in this era, of around the 14th Century that I notice the references of the Queen of Heaven no longer being attributed to the Bride of God, the Church, but rather the Theotokos.

"The Priest takes in his hands the same phosphors, or a second one, and with the lance cuts around the small triangular part of the seal, saying: In honor and memory of our most blessed and glorious Lady, Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary; at whose prayers, Lord, accept this sacrifice at your Altar above he heavens.

"Taking this particle with the lance, he places it on the right hand side of the Lamb, saying: At your right hand stood he Queen, arrayed in a garment of in woven gold; adorned in various colors."

It is my understanding that the Queen and woman clothed in the sun in Revelation cannot be the Theotokos, because the birth is of the Church, not of Christ, as there was travail, unlike that of the Virgin Birth. This understanding I have received through St Andrew of Caesarea in his commentary on the Apocalypse, in which he quotes the Symposium of Methodios.

I don't have access to the Taft studies on the development of the Byzantine Liturgy, perhaps someone who does can lend a word regarding this area? My only direct commentary towards the service itself is from "The Divine Liturgy: A Commentary in the light of the Fathers".

When I have encountered the use of this term associated with the Panagia, I can't help but get a 'Roman Catholic' vibe since so much of their modern doctrine is based around this concept, stemming all the way back to the interesting Latin translation of the sequence in the Garden with 'she' stomping the serpent, which led to the popular Latin image of the Theotokos stepping on the serpent while being depicted as the woman in Revelation. It very well might be my raising as a Roman Catholic that causes me to be more wary of such things, but I pray to have no inadvertent disrespect or lack of due honor to the Theotokos. In matters of Theology and Doctrine, ai usually just tell myself to seek the Liturgical witness, and in this case it holds true amongst the received Byzantine Liturgy...however, I still have my gut feeling of slight unease as to the origin of this development if it is as such. I think of St John of San Francisco's beautiful defense for proper veneration of the Theotokos and the fine line we must walk in giving such due honor. Is this all for nought? Or could there have been incluence from the Catholic prostletizers/missionaries as was likely the case with St Nikodemos's view of the bathing scene depiction in the icon of the Nativity of Christ?

#2 Olga

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Posted 19 September 2014 - 05:52 AM

In matters of Theology and Doctrine, I usually just tell myself to seek the Liturgical witness, and in this case it holds true amongst the received Byzantine Liturgy...however, I still have my gut feeling of slight unease as to the origin of this development if it is as such. I think of St John of San Francisco's beautiful defense for proper veneration of the Theotokos and the fine line we must walk in giving such due honor. Is this all for nought? Or could there have been influence from the Catholic proselytes/missionaries as was likely the case with St Nikodemos's view of the bathing scene depiction in the icon of the Nativity of Christ?

 
 
Welcome back to the forum, Anthony. :)
 
Firstly, you can't go wrong from drawing from the liturgical deposit to learn what the Church teaches about a particular matter. It represents what the entire Church believes and espouses. The same goes for sound, canonical iconography. Also, remember that hymns and icons are stuffed full of scriptural references, OT and NT, expressed through the Church's interpretation.
 
Secondly, Orthodoxy, unlike others, does not subscribe to "doctrinal development". The notion of the Mother of God as Queen is not only thoroughly Orthodox, most clearly seen as the Mother of the King of Kings, Jesus Christ, but the idea of a Queen Mother was well-known to the OT Israelites, as various references show, and as many hymns and prayers proclaim.
 
The opening hymn to Ode 1 of all canons at Matins to the Mother of God, including for her feasts, are this, or variations of it:
 
I will open my mouth and it will be filled with the Spirit,

And I will utter a word to the Queen and Mother,

And I shall be seen keeping glad festival,

And rejoicing, I will sing her wonders.

 

interesting Latin translation of the sequence in the Garden with 'she' stomping the serpent, which led to the popular Latin image of the Theotokos stepping on the serpent while being depicted as the woman in Revelation.

 

If one looks at certain compositional types of icons of the Mother of God, the Child is shown with one foot turned heel outwards, referring to the correct interpretation of that passage in Genesis.

 

Or could there have been influence from the Catholic prostletizers/missionaries as was likely the case with St Nikodemos's view of the bathing scene depiction in the icon of the Nativity of Christ?

 

The bathing scene in icons of the Nativity express that Christ was born as any human child is, physically, from a human mother, and therefore needed to be bathed as any child would need to be after his or her birth. It attests to the fullness of His humanity, and that He did not materialise into the world as some sort of spirit. It also speaks to the incomprehensible condescension and humbling of God in Christ, in that He allows Himself, God Incarnate, to not only become incarnate, and to be born of a woman, but to be washed by the midwives. However, He is still shown in such icons as God, through the distinctive halo and inscriptions reserved for Christ.

 

The iconographic motif of the Child being attended to by the midwives greatly predates the time of St Nikodemos by centuries.



#3 Anthony Cornett

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Posted 19 September 2014 - 06:03 AM

 
 
The opening hymn to Ode 1 of all canons to the Mother of God, including for her feasts, are this, or variations of it:
 I will open my mouth and it will be filled with the Spirit,
And I will utter a word to the Queen and Mother,
And I shall be seen keeping glad festival,
And rejoicing, I will sing her wonders.
 

 
If one looks at certain compositional types of icons of the Mother of God, the Child is shown with one foot turned heel outwards, referring to the correct interpretation of that passage in Genesis.
 

 
The bathing scene in icons of the Nativity express that Christ was born as any human child is, physically, from a human mother, and therefore needed to be bathed as any child would need to be after his or her birth. It attests to the fullness of His humanity, and that He did not materialise into the world as some sort of spirit. It also speaks to the incomprehensible condescension and humbling of God in Christ, in that He allows Himself, God Incarnate, to not only become incarnate, and to be born of a woman, but to be washed by the midwives. However, He is still shown in such icons as God, through the distinctive halo and inscriptions reserved for Christ.
 
The iconographic motif of the Child being attended to by the midwives greatly predates the time of St Nikodemos by centuries.


Thank you for the warm welcome, Olga. I also appreciate the reference to the hymn. As for the icons, I comepletely agree with your expressed assessment, I was only referring to the various RC influence over the years that has shown its face in the East in one time or another. In one of his beautiful volumes on Byzantine Iconography, Fr Constantine of blessed memory discusses the St Nikodemos take on the Nativity icon, and the potential for his influence and strong stance of piety stemming from the RC missionaries.

#4 Olga

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Posted 19 September 2014 - 08:33 AM

Fr Constantine of blessed memory discusses the St Nikodemos take on the Nativity icon, and the potential for his influence and strong stance of piety stemming from the RC missionaries.

 

It should also be remembered that St Nikodemos made the error of regarding the iconographic portrayal of God the Father as a bearded old man as correct. There are those who state that this is a western corruption of St Nikodemos' writings, but I have yet to find the evidence to confirm that this is so.



#5 Anthony Cornett

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Posted 19 September 2014 - 03:18 PM

I think the Western 'corruption' concept stems from the heavy activity of Catholics in the area during his time, and the type of texts that were being read amongst both East and West, some of which St. Nikodemos edited and compiled himself. There's nothing necessarily 'wrong' about Theological opinion, especially when it comes to pious opinion. Even in his strongest language, St. Nikodemos held a defense of his own practice but did not feel the need to force it upon others if they chose otherwise (in the case of holding Memorial Services on Sundays, kneeling, etc). There are certainly some who choose to write the Saint off due to such potential Western influences, but I find this ridiculous. Even in the staunchest critics of Western corruption, Fr Constantine included, they hold a high regard for St. Nikodemos. These particular points are certainly not matters of doctrine, but rather piety. 

 

Back to the topic of the reference of the Queen of Heaven: With the Ode 1's authorship of St. Joseph the Hymnographer, we can at least say that the 9th Century shows evidence of this association. 



#6 Kosta

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Posted 24 September 2014 - 07:45 AM

I haven't noticed an emphasis on the Panagia as Queen of Heaven  in Orthodoxy. Aside from psalm 44 (as you mentioned) its not a big theme.  The Theotokos can be seen as a symbol for the Church. The Proskimide service you quote from is very similiar to the theme of the bridal chamber mentioned in the services for Holy Monday and Tuesday:

 

"Wherefore, though I be hardened in sin, do not condemn me to perish with the goats, but numbering me with the sheep on Your right, save me as a loving God...The bridegroom surpassing all in comelines, has called us to the spiritual wedding feast. Through sharing in your sufferings, remove the blotched raiment of my sins, and adorning me with a robe of glory of comliness, make me a radiant guest of your kingdom as a merciful God."



#7 Anthony Cornett

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Posted 24 September 2014 - 03:10 PM

Kosta,

 

I'm not sure I follow the connection between the utilizing of Psalm 44 (often a depiction of the Church as Queen, but not in Ode 1 of the Theotokos Canons or the Proskimide Service) and the Bridegroom prayers. The rest of the psalm clearly makes reference, or at least is later pointed to throughout Scripture as being the Theotokos (All generations shall call thee blessed; I shall remember your holy name from generation to generation), and is also utilized heavily in the Paraklesis. St. Andrew's Commentary on the reference in Revelation is quite hardlined, however, and it makes me wonder if it would also include Psalm 44, which I thought was a natural, or if I am simply reading too far into it? For instance, I know Theodore of Mopsuestia is clear on the Queen referenced in the Psalm being the Church, not taking away from the Messianic elements of the Psalm at all, having also clearly cited the King as being Christ.


Edited by Anthony Cornett, 24 September 2014 - 03:22 PM.


#8 Kosta

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Posted 25 September 2014 - 07:27 AM

As far as I know almost all of the Fathers viewed the persecuted women mentioned in Revelation as the Church.  In my opinion opinion references to the Theotokos as Queen of Heaven is a type for the Church triumphant.  It is those who faithfully follow Christ that will stand at His Right hand,  the saints who successfully finish the race are those that receive the crown of royalty, they are adorned in radiant garments etc..


Edited by Kosta, 25 September 2014 - 07:29 AM.


#9 Anthony Cornett

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Posted 25 September 2014 - 03:17 PM

Makes sense, Kosta...So while it is a reference to the Church Triumphant, she was the first to inherit/accomplish this after Christ, and thus is a perfect representative of such a reference.



#10 Angie

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 10:35 PM

HI everyone

 

Would like to know if referring to our Panagia as  "Queen of the world" is okay?  I know we call her Vasilisa tou kosmou in greek.


Edited by Angie, 17 February 2016 - 10:36 PM.


#11 Lakis Papas

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Posted 19 February 2016 - 08:47 PM

Panagia in Greece is called "Despoina" meaning "Lady". In few cases she is called "Queen". We should be care to always use these words in their spiritual context! The Kingdom is not of this world.





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