This year, on May 1st, the Catholic Church declared Pope John Paul II to be Blessed. The foundation of the Pope’s holiness was his Total Consecration to Mary, expressed in his coat of arms at the bottom of the mosaic. He dedicated himself entirely as a servant of Mary, giving her full authority over his whole life. Her motherly protection was the reason he survived the assassination attempt in 1981 (he specifically gave credit to Our Lady of Fatima, because the day of the attempt was the anniversary of one of her appearances). In honor of his mother and queen, the Pope placed a mosaic in one of the windows that overlooks St. Peter’s square. To explain his motto and the design on his shield, we have no better source that Pope Benedict’s homily for the beatification:
He was fully aware that the [Second Vatican] Council’s decision to devote the last chapter of its Constitution on the Church to Mary meant that the Mother of the Redeemer is held up as an image and model of holiness for every Christian and for the entire Church. This was the theological vision which Blessed John Paul II discovered as a young man and subsequently maintained and deepened throughout his life. A vision which is expressed in the scriptural image of the crucified Christ with Mary, his Mother, at his side. This icon from the Gospel of John (19:25-27) was taken up in the episcopal and later the papal coat-of-arms of Karol Wojtyła: a golden cross with the letter “M” on the lower right and the motto “Totus tuus”, drawn from the well-known words of Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort in which Karol Wojtyła found a guiding light for his life: “Totus tuus ego sum et omnia mea tua sunt. Accipio te in mea omnia. Praebe mihi cor tuum, Maria – I belong entirely to you, and all that I have is yours. I take you for my all. O Mary, give me your heart” (Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, 266).
It is my sincere hope that, inspired by the Council’s teaching in Lumen Gentium, more Catholics will consecrate themselves to Mary and give her full authority over their lives, not for emotional comfort, but as a serious path to mature Christian faith.