Once again I was recently involved in an online debate with a Protestant on the Blessed Mother. His main line of argument was basically that the woman in Revelation 12 could not be the Blessed Virgin Mary, because verse 6 of that chapter mentions the 3 1/2 years if tribulation at the end of the world. The woman is said to suffer persecution for those 3 1/2 years. So the Protestant reasoned that the woman must be Israel, not the Virgin Mary.
Let us ignore the fact that most Protestants seem to interpret the woman from Revelation 12 as being the Church, not Israel. The fact is the woman could only be either the Church, or Israel, by analogy only. To assume the imagery in verse 6 can only be a reference to 3 1/2 years of tribulation at the end times is pure conjecture. This is another example of the faulty Protestant either/or mode of exegesis. Catholics have the much more reliable both/and method.
Revelation is chalk full of metaphors and imagery. One can not determine with certainty that Revelation 12:6, for example, refers only to a literal 3 1/2 year period of persecution of the Church or Israel at the end times. Every bit of Scripture has layers of meaning. In addition, I might mention that only the Catholic Church, which compiled the New Testament, was given the authority to authoritatively interpret Scripture.
The fact is, four people are mentioned in Revelation 12. A dragon is mentioned. Is this a metaphor? No, John is clear that the dragon is literally Satan. Michael the Archangel is mentioned. Is this a metaphor? No, again John is clear that Michael is a literal person. The woman is said to give birth to a “child who rules all nations with an iron rod”. Is this a metaphor? Again, it is made clear that the child is literally Jesus Christ.
With all of these people being mentioned in this chapter, how is it that the woman alone can be considered only from a purely analogical sense? This is inconsistent exegesis, at best. It is irresponsible, at worst. The woman must be Mary.
My Protestant opponent claimed the stars that Revelation 12 mentions as crowning Mary’s head was a reference to the Twelve Tribes of Israel alone. While I acknowledge that the number 12 is symbolic of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, it is also symbolic of the Twelve Apostles. This, in turn, is symbolic of all Christians. In fact, we see this clearly in Revelation 12:17. The stars, however, are not symbolic of people.
Revelation 12:4 depicts Satan as sweeping a third of the stars from heaven. Stars, in Revelation at least, must be literally angels. Satan took a number of angels with him in his rebellion.
This has major ramifications for our interpretation of the woman in Revelation 12. She is wearing a crown, as queens do. Her crown is adorned with twelve stars. The stars are the angels, and the number twelve symbolizes people.
We can come to only one conclusion. The woman in Revelation 12 must, in a very literal (literal here meaning real) sense, be the Blessed Virgin Mary. Furthermore, we must conclude that She is the Queen of Heaven and Earth. Not only that, but Mary is the Mother of all who call themselves Christian.
Peace in Christ,
David J. Pollard
American Catholic Solidarity