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Czułe oblicze Matki. Przewodnie motywy mariologii papieża Franciszka


  • Adam Jerzy Wojtczak


By March 2019 Pope Francis’s pontificate will have reached the mark of six years. Within his multidimensional doctrinal signifi cance arises a question about Mariology – both about its subject matter and formal one. The six-year pontifi cate, which has generated around 130 statements about Mary of Nazareth, casts light on Francis’s particular teaching on Mary. There has not been an integral and in-depth analysis as yet. The few publications, both in Polish and in other languages, merely introduce the great wealth of Pope Bergoglio’s teaching on Mary. They are beneficial, but limited in scope and cursory. This book is to fill in this gap, at least partially. It presents key themes of the Pope’s Mariology. In this respect, it is a crucial contribution to understanding its particularity. The publication consists of thirteen chapters. It makes use of the author’s materials, published earlier within collective works and theological periodicals. Their updated versions are corrected and extended. New, as yet unpublished texts have been added, greatly enriching the treatise. The relatedness of the themes causes certain overlapping within the text, which gives rise to some conceptual repetitions. Each chapter has separate endnotes and also a separate pagination. The publication can be divided into four basic parts. The first introduces papal interpretation of Marian dogmas: it shows where in the Scripture the Pope finds the basis for dogmatic judgments, what theological message he formulates basing on them and what conclusions he draws from them. The second part, composed of five texts, relates Mary to the mystery of the Triune God. The first part sets Mary’s immaculate conception within the dimension of God’s gift. Her “fullness of grace” is attracting and proclaims the primacy of grace in Christian life. The second one presents Mary as “the first and the most perfect disciple of Jesus”. She is the perfect disciple not only because she physically accompanied Jesus in His messianic mission, but also because she embodied the most important features of being a disciple: the radicalism of faith, hope and love, the acceptance of the Word of God with an open heart, perseverance in sharing the Son’s fate, up to assuming a close resemblance to Him and bringing Him to others. The next chapter reveals Mary as a “Lady of Memory”, who kept and reflected in her heart on the words and events connected with Jesus. For that reason she is a living memory, for the Church, of the signs wrought by Jesus, and at the same times is a model of keeping and pondering on the great God’s works. The fourth text portrays Mary as a ”perfect icon of faith”. And by the way, it attempts to determine which Pope: Benedict XVI or Francis should be more acknowledged for the Marian themes of the encyclical Lumen fi dei, written “for four hands”. The final article is devoted to Mary’s participation in the mystery of the Christ’s cross. It focuses particularly on her co-suff ering in faith as well as on the nature of her collaboration in the Son’s salvific work. The third thematic block, comprising six chapters, is concerned with the relationship between Mary and the Church. The first one describes Mary’s ministry to her neighbors, how it is manifested and what it is characterized by, and what is its source and what Mary-the Handmaid of man teaches us. The next one refers to the exhortation Evangelii gaudium, which names Mary “the Star of the new evangelization”. The point here is to explain in what sense Mary is a model of a disciple becoming an evangelist and what lies at the heart of Marian style of evangelization ministry. The third chapter portrays Mary as the “Cause of our Joy”. It addresses the issue of what the theological and cultic signifi cance is hidden within this Marian title. The next text refers to the Marian image of ‘a poor Church for the poor”. Francis puts forward the concept of the Church of “open doors”, “on the go” towards the existential and theological peripheries, following Mary’s model and in Mary’s tender care. The Pope sees in her “the most beautiful and most tender face of the Church”. Looking at her we begin to believe in the revolutionary power of tenderness and love. For that reason chapter fi ve reveals Marian references to Christian cordiality. Thanks to Mary we can experience God’s closeness and we open our hearts to others. “Where there is a mother, there is tenderness” says the Pope. The sixth chapter is about the Marian nature of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. The Pope perceives in Mary an icon of God’s Mercy, because she was formed by it and participated in it. At present, she reveals it to us and teaches us merciful love, as well as she leads us towards God in her maternal way. The last text refers Mary to the whole of creation. In other words, it shows in what sense the Mother and Queen of the whole of creation can motivate and support us in embracing the program of “integral ecology” put forward by the encyclical Laudato si’. The ending of this publication presents the essence of the originality of Pope Bergoglio’s Mariology. For the clarity of the dissertation, the ending off ers observations and conclusions of methodological nature as well as pertaining to the subject matter. With reference to the former, it turns out that Francis classifi es Mariology with the use of Christology and ecclesiology. Apart from “Mariology in context”, which observes the nexus mysteriorum principle, he postulates to fathom the mystery of Mary on the path of beauty and love. Unlike Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, Francis is less occupied with the explication of Marian dogmas. He is not bound to doctrinal reflections, but strives to shed light on the signs of modern times and show how the faithful can implement Mary in their own lives. His loci theologici are meaningful within his Marian teaching. They are especially enriched with references from the Scripture, interpreted as a whole. He emphasizes the prophetic antithesis Eve – Mary as well as Marian typology (the Daughter of Zion). His Mariology is rooted in the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, which places Mary within the history-salvifi c context. The Marian chapter of the constitution Lumen gentium is the most frequently quoted Church document by the Pope. It constitutes a hermeneutical horizon in fathoming Marian truths. He makes use of Marian teachings of his post-conciliar predecessors at Peter’s See. He most frequently reaches for John Paul’s encyclical Redemptoris Mater. He makes less use of the thoughts of the fathers and writers of the Church. He abundantly derives from his personal Marian piety. This makes his Mariology not only theologia mentis, marked by methodological accuracy, but also theologia cordis, which is based on Christian experience, sometimes without concern for exactness of stated thoughts. Francis puts forward the principle: “This is how it is with Mary: If you want to know who she is, you ask theologians; if you want to know how to love her, you have to ask the people”. The thematic scope of the teaching on Mary by the Pope from Argentina is extensive, because he touches various Marian truths depending on feasts and particular circumstances. He devotes more time and attention to some of these truths. Repetitiveness of certain themes and concepts casts light on the particularity of his Marian teaching and also brings forth new, original themes. He assumes that the benchmark for all the truths and Marian titles is Mary’s agreement – fiat of faith. It determines her existence and mission. At the same time, it constitutes the foundation of Christian life. Without fiat there is no Church, nor Christianity. Furthermore, for Francis Mary is Hodegetria, since as “the fi rst and most perfect disciple of Jesus” and as a “Lady of Memory”, she leads us down the way to become authentic disciples of the Christ. She also teaches us to “go forth from our comfort zone” in order to step on the path of visitation, i.e. towards neighbors. He embraces the concept of “a poor Church for the poor”. Mary convinces us that an encounter with God is trustworthy only when it implies service to man. In this sense, Francis makes reference to post-conciliar Popes’ teaching on “the option for the poor” and on the other hand, he expands that teaching, because he refers Mary’s service to the whole of creation (Marian face of “integral ecology”). Moreover, in Mary he sees an icon of Divine mercy, proclaiming the primacy of grace. Apart from the mystery of Christ, the mystery of the Church is the other point of reference for Pope Bergoglio in proper development of the teaching on the Mother of the Lord. This is not only about perceiving her as included within the Church, which was proclaimed the Second Vatican Council, but it is also about perceiving the Church within her. Mary is a personal concretization of the Church, the most perfect fulfi llment of the Church’s nature. The bond between Mary and the Church enables us to discover Mary as the most beautiful and the most tender face of the Church; and looking at the Church, we recognize the noble features of Mary. Tenderness is a favorite theme of Francis’s teaching. He confesses in Evangelii gaudium that “whenever we look to Mary, we come to believe once again in the revolutionary nature of love and tenderness” (no. 288). It is especially at Marian shrines that pilgrims experience her cordiality, love and motherly warmth. This makes her the Church’s model for the new evangelization. Christian revolution is carried out through tenderness, which is always closeness, compassion and service. The publication is ended with a list of Francis’s most important statements on Mary and a list of studies devoted to them.

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Tender face of the Mother. The main motifs of pope Francis's mariology
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Adam Mickiewicz University (UAM)
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Studia i Materiały - Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu. Wydział Teologiczny
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pol (pl) Polish
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Score increased (at least one author declares Humanities, Social sciences or Theological science)
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Ministerial score = 120.0, 31-12-2021, MonograhOrBookNotMainLanguagesAuthor


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