The title: Matri Ecclesiae

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Matri Ecclesia

The Second Vatican Council was solemnly brought to a close on 8 December 1965. On the same day Fr Kentenich symbolically laid the foundation stone for the future shrine and centre at Belmonte, Rome. He named the shrine: Matri Ecclesiae

In his address in the afternoon of 8 December 1965 our founder referred to the dedication of the foundation stone which Pope Paul VI had blessed in St Peter’s Square for a large church to be dedicated to Mary in thanksgiving for the Council. The foundation stone bears the inscription MATRI ECCLESIAE, calling Mary the Mother of the Church and patron saint of the planned church. Our founder took up this name and gave it to the future shrine in Rome. The title can be interpreted in two ways and was deliberately chosen and repeatedly interpreted as time went by.


To start with, "Mater Ecclesiae" is the title Pope Paul VI solemnly gave to the Blessed Mother at the close of the third session of the Council. There had been considerable debate and tension over whether the Council should integrate its pronouncements on the Blessed Mother into the document on the Church, or place them into a separate document. In this sense the title MATRI ECCLESIAE expresses the dedication of the Church of the future. It was to be consecrated to Mary, the Mother of the Church. A second interpretation takes the grammatical form of the title to indicate that the "Mother Church" is meant, and hence the motherly features of the Church, which the Church Fathers had already connected with the motherly features of Mary, and can be seen together.

Dr Peter Wolf



Cardenal Jorge Mario Bergoglio  (Pope Francis) in Buenos Aires