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Why is Mary given the title ‘Spouse of the Holy Spirit’?

May 14, 2015

Dear Father;

I was reading ‘The Secret of the Rosary’ by Saint Louis de Montfort recently, and on p.132 Mary is referred to as the “faithful Spouse [of the Holy Spirit]”, and I was wondering why we give Mary this title.



Asked at 07:05 am on May 14th 2015

Dear Ryan,

This devotional title of our Lady takes us back to the annunciations to her and in a dream to St Joseph. On both occasions, the angel gives assurance that it is the Holy Spirit who brings about the conception of the Son of God in her womb (Mt 1:18, 20; Lk 1:34; Catechism 484-6). The angel’s assurance overcomes any doubt about the possible cooperation of a human male in the conception: the Lord Jesus is the Son of God and the Son of Mary. We confess it this way in the Nicene Creed: “For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.”

The cooperation of the Holy Spirit in the conception of the Lord Jesus to the exclusion of a human male points to our Lady’s unique relationship with the third Person of the Blessed Trinity. With the Father and the Son, he kept her free from the stain of sin, and so by the Spirit’s intercession the Virgin is all-holy. The Holy Spirit also sanctified the womb of the Virgin Mary to prepare her to become the Mother of God, and filled her kinswoman Elizabeth when she greeted her (Lk 1:41). We recall also that she is there in the Upper Room with the disciples at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was sent by the Father and the Son (Acts 1:14). In a special way, all the key moments of her life feature the divine Spirit, in a similar way as the events of family life feature both of the wife and the husband together:

Another great Church author much devoted to our Lady is the priest and martyr of Auschwitz, St Maximilian Kolbe (1894-1941):

“The Holy Spirit manifests his share in the work of Redemption through the Immaculate Virgin who, although she is a person entirely distinct from him, is so intimately associated with him that our minds cannot understand it. So, while their union is not of the same order as the hypostatic union linking the human and divine natures in Christ, it remains true to say that Mary’s action is the very action of the Holy Spirit” (Miles Immaculatae).

Finally, too, you may be interested to know Pope Leo XIII mentioned the spousal relationship between the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Virgin in an 1897 encyclical:

“Let all Christian peoples add their prayers also, invoking the powerful and ever-acceptable intercession of the Blessed Virgin. You know well the intimate and wonderful relationship existing between her and the Holy Spirit, so that she is justly called His Spouse. May she continue to strengthen our prayers with her prayers” (Divinum Illud Munus/That Divine Gift, n.14)

Answered by Fr Paul Rowse, OP

Replied at 02:03 am on June 04th 2015

Good morrow Father,

If Mary is considered the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, is it not a good thing to go through Mary as She would be able to gather forgiveness much easier than one who directly prays to Jesus as She is his mother as well? Would not Jesus forgive more frequently the sins of a man if his mother asks him to do so?

Not meaning to offend, but would it not be better to go through Jesus’ Mother in order to get sins forgiven as he would be more willing to forgive sin if his mother asks him to?

Thanks in advance,


Replied at 02:09 am on June 14th 2015

Hi Steve,

I understand your logic. While it is true that the Catholic Church encourages intercessory prayer through the Blessed Mother, it is important to remember that salvation for humanity is only through Jesus Christ, the 2nd person of the Trinity. When we confess our sins, it is Jesus, acting through the priest, that forgives our sins. It is not Mary. While the special spousal relationship of Mary with the Holy Spirit is unquestioned; it is also clear that Mary was never both human and divine. She was only human. Jesus Christ, on the other hand, was both human and divine. Although it is something difficult for us to wrap our minds around, it is also important to note that Jesus Christ, the son of God existed from all eternity. Jesus himself said, “I assure you, before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58). God discerns the human heart, and it’s that heart the is seeking forgiveness.

Replied at 07:50 am on June 15th 2015