Bernard wrote to queens and princesses: he never applies to Mary the idea he had of their power, which was, in fact, very limited, except in instances of regency or of a queen with a strong personality exercising personal influence over the king. The image of the queen-mother is more unusual, and also more original and expressive. It too suggests personal influence, but respects the unique transcendence of the person in power. The queen-mother does not wield this power herself; she merely intervenes with the one who possesses it. From a doctrinal point of view this is more exact. It is also more in keeping with Bernard’s greater insistence on Mary’s motherhood than on her virginity. Virginity is a privilege linked to the part she has in the work of salvation, but she plays this role as a mother. All this argues a very consistent theology.

Jean Leclercq, Women and Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1989)


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