Many non-Catholics object to our use of the title “queen of heaven” in reference to the Blessed Virgin Mary. They do so because in the Old Testament, a false goddess – apparently Ishtar, the Assyro-Babylonian fertility goddess – was called the “queen of heaven” (see Jeremiah 7:18, 44:17-19, and 44:25). Using the title when speaking of Mary, they reason, means that Catholics worship Mary as a pagan goddess. Obviously, this would be a wrong thing to do.
But take heart! The good news is that Catholics neither (a) consider Mary to be a goddess nor (b) worship her.
Catholics think that it is appropriate to call Mary the “queen of heaven” for two reasons:
- Her son is the King, making her the queen mother. More than just an honorary role, the queen mother was an office in the Davidic kingdom. As one Protestant encyclopedia explains, “The gebhirah, or queen mother, occupied a position of high social and political importance; she took rank almost with the king.”
- The Bible depicts her as “wearing a crown of twelve stars” in heaven (Revelation 12:1), which is appropriate given her role as the queen mother of Christ the King.
But does the title’s pagan usage make it inappropriate to apply in a Christian context? By all means no! Just because the title was applied to a false queen of heaven in the Old Testament does not mean that the title cannot be used for the true queen of heaven.
There is strong Biblical precedent for this in the title “king of kings”. In the Old Testament, two pagan rulers were called “king of kings”:
- Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon – Daniel 2:37 and Ezekiel 26:7.
- Artaxerxes, king of Persia – Ezra 7:12
In spite of the pagan use of “king of kings”, we appropriately apply the title to Jesus Christ, our ultimate and true King of Kings, in 1 Timothy 6:15, Revelation 17:14 and Revelation 19:16.
So we see from Scripture that it is certainly appropriate to call the Blessed Virgin Mary “Queen of Heaven.”