Mary is the Ladder to Heaven

In John’s Gospel, Jesus referred to Himself as “Jacob’s Ladder.” “I say to you, you will see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (John 1:51)


Jacob’s Ladder is also a symbol of Mother Mary. This is because our Lord Jesus Christ came down from heaven to earth by taking flesh through her, and thus Mary was the junction between heaven and earth. Since she is our intercessor in heaven she is the ladder by which we ascend to God and God descends to us. Pope Pius IX affirmed this truth by stating that Christ is the Mediator and Mary is the medium through which such mediation occurs. She is the sacred space within which God and man intermingle. (Pope Pius IX’s encyclical Ineffabilis Deus)


Some of the great saints have called the Rosary beads a ladder leading up to heaven.


The Ladder Rosary

There is a type of rosary called the Ladder Rosary whose origin comes from Mexico. It is called so because the beads are turned sideways and linked into chain rather than to one another, making the beads look like rungs on a ladder.


The Ladder Rosary has an interesting history. Some trace the first ladder rosary to the vision of Saint Dominic in which he saw souls climbing to heaven on the rosary. Others point to the vision of Saint Francis De Sales who saw two ladders to heaven: a rather steep one leading directly to Jesus, and another far less steep one leading toward Mary. Jesus told Saint Francis: "Tell your sons to come by the other ladder," meaning the easiest way to Jesus is through Mary!”


Another tradition tells us that Saint Dominic in a vision saw souls climbing the ladder to heaven. The ladder even appears in Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling painting, showing souls being pulled from Purgatory by a rosary.


“The late Archbishop Dmitri Royster of the Orthodox Church in America called Jacob’s vision of a ladder as a prefiguring of Mary herself. “The story of Jacob’s ladder,” the archbishop wrote, “refers to (Mary) being the means by which God chose to enter into the world physically.””


“So it is not hard to see why Mary, who was the means by which Christ came to earth, is also seen as a ladder by which we can connect to Jesus and, through him, reach heaven. Whether we use a traditional chain or knotted rosary, or a sturdy ladder one, we hold a physical reminder of the stairway to heaven that is Jesus, brought to earth through Mary.”


The great Marian saint and theologian, St. Louis de Montfort, would describe Mary as the shortest way to get to Christ: “the sure means and the straight and immaculate way” and again as “the most easy, the most short, and the most perfect means by which to go to Jesus Christ.” Likewise, Pope St. Pius X adds: “There is no surer or easier way than Mary in uniting all men with Christ.” Therefore, as Our Lord came to us through Mary, so must we go to Him through Her as the Gate of heaven and Ladder to heaven.


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