Mary's Queenship in Revelation 12
by Edward P. Sri
In our last reflection, we saw how the woman figure in Revelation 12 should be identified as Mary. Now we are prepared to explore how Revelation 12 reveals Mary as having three beautiful roles in salvation history. She is the New Eve, the Mother of All Christians, and the Queen Mother.
The First Prophecy
First, Mary appears as the New Eve in the cosmic battle between God and the devil—a battle foretold at the very beginning of Scripture. In a passage known as the protoevangelium ("first Gospel"), God gave humanity the first foreshadowing of how the Messiah would conquer the devil and liberate the human family from sin. After the Fall of Adam and Eve, God addressed the serpent in Eden, saying, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel" (Gen. 3:15).
This prophecy involves three main characters: the woman, the woman’s son, and the serpent. It foretells how the woman, Eve, will have a descendant ("her seed") who will bruise the head of the serpent. In the Bible, striking-the-head imagery denotes a king defeating his enemies (2 Sam. 22:37–43; Ps. 89:23; cf. Ps. 110:1). Therefore, the woman’s son bruising the head of the serpent tells us two important things about him: He will be a kingly son and he will defeat the serpent, the devil.
This ancient prophecy about the devil’s defeat is the key backdrop to Revelation 12, which introduces the same three characters of Genesis 3:15. The woman has a royal son who is attacked by the dragon—a figure that is explicitly identified as "that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan" (Rev. 12:9). In this battle, the child emerges victorious as he is taken up to heaven and seated at the right hand of God (Rev. 12:5), while the dragon is conquered and cast down to earth (Rev. 12:7–12).
With the ancient serpent being defeated by the woman’s royal son, Revelation 12 is clearly presenting the ultimate fulfillment of Genesis 3:15’s prophecy about the devil’s defeat. Mary is the long-awaited woman of Genesis, and Jesus is her royal Son whose coming brings about the serpent’s defeat.
Mother of All the Living
Second, Revelation 12 presents Mary as the Mother of All Christians, a title that fits well with the New Eve theme. According to Genesis 3:20, Eve’s name means "mother of all living." Therefore, if Mary is the New Eve, it would be fitting to see her as the new mother of all the living—the spiritual mother of all those who are alive in Christ.
This maternal role over all Christians becomes even more explicit in Revelation 12:17. Here, the woman appears not only as the mother of the Messiah, but also the mother of other offspring, who are described as "those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus" (Rev. 12:17). Revelation 12, therefore, clearly reveals Mary as the mother of all who follow Christ.
Similar to the beloved disciple in the Gospel of John, these children of the woman are depicted as loyal followers of Jesus who have a special mother-son relationship with Mary. As such, Revelation 12:17 stands out in the Bible as the Scripture verse that most clearly demonstrates Mary’s maternal relationship with all Christians. She is the mother of "those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus." In other words, she is the Mother of All Christians.
Treat Her Like a Queen?
Finally, the Book of Revelation sheds much light on the doctrine of Mary’s queenship. At first glance, the very notion of Mary being a queen in Christ’s kingdom may seem odd. After all, the queen is typically the king’s wife, and Mary is not the wife of the king Jesus, but His mother.
However, from a Biblical perspective, Mary’s queenship makes perfect sense. In ancient Near Eastern kingdoms, it was the mother who reigned as queen, not the king’s wife. The kings typically had large harems; thus, it was not feasible to bestow the queenship on hundreds of women. But each king had only one mother, and the queenship was given to her.
This was the case in ancient Israel as well. The mother of the king reigned as the queen mother. Practically every time the narrative of 1 and 2 Kings introduces a new king in Judah, the king’s mother is mentioned. The queen mother was a member of the royal court, wore a crown, sat on a throne, and shared in the king’s reign (2 Kings 24:12, 15; Jer. 13:18–20). She served as a counselor to her son (Prov. 31) and as an advocate for the people, acting as an intercessor who brought petitions from the citizens of the kingdom to her royal son (1 Kings 2:17–20).
This background provides important biblical foundations for understanding Mary’s queenship. From a scriptural perspective, Mary’s queenship is very clear. As the mother of the King (Jesus), she would be the Queen Mother in her Son’s kingdom. That’s why Revelation 12 presents Mary as the Queen Mother. In fact, the passage describes Mary in ways that recall the queen mother tradition of the Old Testament.
A Royal Woman
On one hand, Revelation 12 presents the woman’s child as a royal son. The child is brought up to heaven to a throne, where he is seated at the right hand of God, the position of authority. Moreover, he is described as the fulfillment of the messianic Psalm 2—the one who "is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron" (Rev. 12:5; Ps. 2:9).
These small details about the child’s royalty tell us a lot about his mother. If Mary is the mother of the royal, messianic King, then in light of the biblical queen mother traditions of the Old Testament, she would be the Queen Mother here in Revelation 12.
On the other hand, Revelation 12 introduces Mary as a majestic royal figure in her own right, reflecting her status as Queen Mother: "And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars" (Rev. 12:1).
This verse reveals Mary’s royal splendor in three ways. First, she wears a crown, symbolizing her own royal status. Second, the woman having "the moon under her feet" also points to her royalty, for in the Bible, "under-the-foot" imagery describes royal dominion and victory over one’s enemies (e.g., Ps. 110:1). Third, the triple celestial image of the woman being clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and crowned with 12 stars, also demonstrates her royal authority.
Similar imagery is found in the patriarch Joseph’s dream in which the sun, moon, and 11 stars bowed down before him, symbolizing the royal authority that Joseph would have over his father and mother (symbolized by the sun and moon) and over his brothers (represented by 11 stars). Revelation 12 depicts Mary with these same three celestial images, thus presenting her with a royal authority reminiscent of Joseph’s.
In conclusion, as the mother of the Messiah-King, Mary would be understood as the Queen Mother in Christ’s kingdom. Therefore, the Catholic understanding of Mary as queen makes perfect biblical sense. No wonder she appears decked out in royal splendor, clothed with the sun, crowned with 12 stars, with the moon under her feet!
And the Bible’s revelation of Mary as Queen Mother also sheds light on her powerful intercessory role. If the queen mother served as an advocate for the people bringing their petitions to the king, then we have strong biblical foundations for Mary’s role as our advocate. As our Queen Mother, she too brings our petitions before the throne of our divine King.
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Edward P. Sri is a professor of theology and Scripture at the Augustine Institute
in Denver, Colorado. He is the author of or contributor to several Emmaus Road books, including his latest book, Queen Mother
, which is based on his doctoral dissertation. This article published in Lay Witness Magazine and reproduced with permission of Catholics United for the Faith
. All rights reserved.