I write to correct Robert Tromans’ point that Notre Dame Cathedral is a monument to the Queen of Heaven (Letters, June/July).
Notre Dame is a place of Christian worship dedicated to a saint, as church buildings have been since the earliest centuries of Christianity.
‘Notre Dame’ means ‘Our Lady’, which is a rendering of the Hebrew ‘gebirah’, the title of the Queen Mother in the royal house of David. It literally means ‘Great lady’ and is entirely distinct from ‘malkath ha-shamayim’, the transliteration of ‘queen of heaven’. No Jew would ever have used the term ‘malkath’ to refer to a female relative of the king.
In the Bible, the kings of the house of David (southern kingdom) are named in the succession lists with their mothers. The mother of the king was always given a unique precedence over the ladies of the royal court, including the wives of the king.
This honour is reflected in Elizabeth’s expression of deference to Mary in Luke 1:43, despite Elizabeth being much older than Mary and a priest’s daughter.
Although the title ‘Queen of Heaven’ does exist, I do not know of any church with the word ‘Queen’ in its name (although many are dedicated to the ‘Virgin Mary’). The title is mainly found in popular litanies, prayers and devotions.
Concerning Pope Francis’ “inter-faith dialogue”, if he does not extend the ‘hand of friendship’ to non-Christians, particularly the Muslim community, then who will?
Worthing, West Sussex
As a Baptist, I hope I was not the only one heartbroken to find an attack upon saintly Pope Francis. Like St Paul in Acts 17, he is an apostle of love and peace with a compassionate, evangelical heart. Every morning my day begins with ‘A Year with Pope Francis’, which I find spiritually nourishing.
Please let us apologise to those Catholic readers, like Fr Chris, our local, radiant Catholic priest, for this attack upon their lovable, Christ-like leader.
Rev Bill Miles