The Solemnity of the Queenship of Mary is celebrated today, August 22, the Octave of the Feast of the Assumption. This solemnity was proclaimed by Pope Pius XII in 1954, although Mary had the title of Queen of Heaven long before that date.
Mary’s Queenship implies (among other things) a crown and a coronation. For over 800 years artists have depicted the Coronation of the Virgin Mary as Queen of Heaven. There are many different ways that the subject has been shown. Usually, but not always, she is crowned by one (or two, or three) members of the Trinity. Sometimes she is sitting. Others, she is kneeling. There are nearly always angels present (it is heaven, after all!) One constant: there is always a crown!
Here are some images of the Coronation of the Virgin Mary, in their glorious variety:
The most common way that the Coronation is shown is with Mary and Christ enthroned side by side.
Usually Christ is the one who is crowning Mary.
Catarino. Coronation of Mary. 1360s. Tempera on panel, 120 x 75 cm. The Hermitage, St. Petersburg
In the image below, it is not Christ, but an angel who reaches out to place the crown on Mary’s head:
unknown French carver. Coronation of the Virgin (left side of diptych). ivory. 1260-70. The Cloisters, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. (the lower register shows the ascent of the Just to heaven)
In the following image, the dove of the Holy Spirit is hovering above the scene of Christ crowning Mary:
Giovanni Bellini. Pesaro Altarpiece. 1471-74. Oil on panel, 262 x 240 cm
Musei Civici, Pesaro, Italy.
Another variation shows God the Father and the Holy Spirit both present with the seated Christ placing the crown on the seated Mary:
Gentile da Fabriano. Polyptych of Valle Romita (detail). c. 1400. Tempera on panel, 157 x 180 cm, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan
In this next image, Christ is holding Mary’s crown, while simultaneously God the Father reaches down from a cloud to crown both Jesus and Mary:
Carlo Crivelli. Coronation of the Virgin. 1493. Panel, 225 x 255 cm. Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan
A second category of Coronation images show Christ and God the Father, both seated, together crowning Mary, who is kneeling (or sitting on a lower level) between them, facing forward. The Holy Spirit is often shown as a dove in the top center, above the crown:
Russian icon. Coronation of the Virgin. 17th century. tempera on panel.
Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez. The Coronation of the Virgin. 1645. Oil on canvas, 178 x 135 cm. Museo del Prado, Madrid.
The Coronation of the Virgin. From the Booke of the Rosary of Philosophers, Lubeck, Germany, 1588. British Library.
In the following unusual painting, the Three persons of the Trinity are shown as identical figures, with one, probably meant to be God the Father, crowning Mary:
anonymous. The Coronation of the Virgin Mary. 18th century, painting on copper. Santa Barbara Mission, California
A third type of Coronation composition shows Mary kneeling and facing one - or more - members of the Trinity, while receiving her crown.
Mary kneels before Christ, who places the crown on her head:
Fra Angelico. Coronation. Tempera on panel 1434-45, 213 x 211cm. Louvre, Paris
In the next two images, Mary kneels reverently before God the Father, who blesses and crowns her:
Boticelli. The Coronation of the Virgin. tempera on panel. 1490-92. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.(the standing figures below are St. John the Evangelist, St. Augustine, St. Jerome, and St. Eligius)
Fra Filippo Lippi. Coronation of the Virgin (detail). 1467-69. Fresco. Duomo, Spoleto
In the following image, Mary kneels before the Trinity, while being crowned by two angels:
Michel Sittow. Coronation of the Virgin. 1496-1504. oil on panel, 24 x 18 cm. Musee du Louvre, Paris.
The Persons of Trinity in the following illustration are represented as three identical figures. Mary kneels before one, presumably Christ, who places the crown on her head, while the other two give their blessings:
Jean Fouquet. The Coronation of the Virgin. 1452-60. illumination on parchment, 194 - 146 mm. Musee Conde, Chantilly, France.
For more about Mary’s Queenship and/or Coronation:
(additional links may be added)
Fr. Robert Barron’s column on Why the Queenship of Mary Matters
Here are the Holy Father’s remarks on the Queenship of Mary at today’s General Audience.
The Coronation is the 5th Glorious Mystery of the Rosary. Here is Mark Shea’s meditation on the Coronation of the Virgin as Queen of Heaven. He references Scott Hahn’s historical research on the Queen Mother of the Kings of Israel as types of Christ and his Mother Mary.
Mary, Queen of Heaven, pray for us!