The Mercy of God: Mary as a Mercy for Humanity and as the Mediatrix of Salvation

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



From the time of St. Bernard of Clairvaux in the twelfth century, the Cistercian Order, and later, the Cistercian Order of Strict Observance, professed a particularly tender devotion to the Virgin Mary, and the twentieth-century Trappist Thomas Merton was of course no exception: Merton spoke of the Cistercian Order as the “special territory” of the “Queen of Heaven” and “those monks in white cowls” (Cistercians) as her “special servants.” Moreover, within the great corpus of his works there is evidence of an earnest and evolving Marian piety, and while his numerous allusions to the Blessed Mother are reflective and quite personal, he was sensitive to the somewhat elusive and complicated persona Mary presents (at least in the traditional telling) and, as a result, the complicated response and indeterminate understanding many Catholics have about her. As he once claimed about Mary, “hers is the most hidden of sanctities. What people find to say about her sometimes tells us more about their own selves than it does about Our Lady.