In the longing of my soul, in the joy of the Holy Spirit, in the most genuine love, and in the Word of Truth, I wish to extol you, to praise you, and to bless you, O Virgin Mary! For you are more radiant than the Sun; in appearance, you are more beautiful; in faith and grace, you are richer. Indeed, you are the most beautiful of all created beings; and serene, radiant, and pleasing, as lovable as the fragrant rose, wholly entrancing and utterly attractive. Such is your dignity and excellence, that were I in possession of the tongues of humans and of angels, and understood all hidden mysteries, and had all the knowledge of Scripture, these resources should fail me long before I had succeeded in expressing even the beginnings of the praise due to you. For you indeed are incomparably above all women in beauty, in gracefulness, and in elegance. You surpass all mortals in virtue, grace, and wisdom. You are more glorious than the angels themselves in eminence of dignity, in excellence of holiness, and in command of glory and honor. Exalted above the choirs of angels, above the thrones of the apostles and the prophets, and above all heavenly beings, you sit—crowned as Queen, at the right hand of your most beloved Son!
There your merits are proclaimed, your honor gloriously extolled, and your praises and privileges sung forth by all, with the deepest veneration and most fervent devotion.
What, therefore, am I, a miserable sinner, able to add to such ineffable splendor, to such transcendent glory? But may my humble pen strive for this goal alone— that it may contribute the merest drop, however small, to the limitless ocean of your immortal praise . . .
The crown which I would fashion for you, O Mistress, fittingly ought to be fashioned of purest gold. For just as gold excels all other metals in value and rarity so you have primacy above all others, both in heaven and on earth. To you every knee shall bend, in heaven and on earth and in the underworld; and every tongue shall proclaim you to be the unique and honored Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the glory of God the Father. Within the celestial reality of eternity, you are clothed with the sun as in a robe and crowned with the interwoven radiance of twelve dazzling stars, and adorned with all conceivable glory and splendor. Just as gold is outstanding for its brilliance and beauty, so you, O beloved Queen, are most bright in your sanctity, most refulgent in your virtues and miracles, most radiant in your outstanding merits, and most indescribably lovely and attractive in both your mind and body.
O Virgin Queen, clothed with the Sun, crowned with twelve stars, and raised up to the highest heavens, you are most merciful! You are more radiant than the Star of the Sea!
Behold the hostile spears by which I am pierced. See the bitter sorrows by which I am tormented. Look upon the grave temptations by which I am tested. Lest the enemy should continue to attack me, lest he should overturn and overcome me, may your right hand cast him down into hell from whence he came. And lest the light of faith should ever grow dark to me, may the ray of your splendor shine always upon me.
For as long as grim death may threaten our bodies, and past ills may trouble our minds, and our consciences stand burdened by sin and trembling with guilt, may your gracious presence continue to assist us kindly. Defend us by your gentle protection, that we be not disturbed or overcome by our foes. And may we pass—secure in the hope of the holy resurrection—to the glory of eternal light. Amen.
This article is taken from a chapter in the Crown of the Virgin: An Ancient Meditation on Mary’s Beauty, Virtue, and Sanctity by St. Ildephonsus of Toledo , which is available from TAN Books.