“I think I know exactly what you mean by the order of Grace; and of course by your references to Our Lady, upon which all my own small perception of beauty both in majesty and simplicity is founded.” (The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, #142)
J.R.R. Tolkien, being a devout Catholic, was well acquainted with the indispensable role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Christianity and had a deep devotion to her. He saw her importance in being the “Mother of God” and venerated her as the “Queen Mother” who sits enthroned with her Son in Heaven. This devotion to the “Morning Star” would find its way into four women in the realm of Middle-Earth:
- Lúthien. While she is a character featured in The Silmarillion, her story does find its way into The Lord of the Rings and is a constant reference in regards to the relationship of Aragorn and Arwen. In any case, Lúthien is half-elven and half-divine and possessed such pure beauty that she captivated the heart of the man Beren after he saw her dancing in the woods. This beauty earned her the title of “the most beautiful of all the Children of Iluvatar” and it is said that her beauty was “as the dawn in spring.” Lúthien reflects that pure beauty of the Blessed Virgin Mary who is the “Tower of Ivory” and “Lady Immaculate.” The Blessed Virgin Mary, while completely human, was preserved from sin and conceived Divine Life in her womb. Lúthien then reflects that pure beauty of the “Fairest Daughter of the Father,” who is also the “Morning Star.”
- Galadriel. Daughter of Finarfin, Prince of the Noldor, and cousin to Luthien, Galadriel is an excellent reflection of many characteristics of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is said to be the fairest of all the elves and was granted the ability to see into the mind’s of others, seeing their thoughts. She was called the “Lady of Light” or the “White Lady.” Her hair was so beautiful that even Gimli desired to have a single strand of her hair. She also dispensed many gifts to the Fellowship when they stopped in Lothlorien. Galadriel reflects that heavenly beauty of Our Lady and reminds us of the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the “Mediatrix of All Graces;” the one who intercedes most powerfully for us and dispenses many gifts to the faithful who call upon her.
- Arwen. Daughter of Elrond and granddaughter of Galadriel, Arwen was called the “Evenstar” and was accounted as the most beautiful of the final generation of elves. She was a descendant of Lúthien and often compared to her for her beauty and for her relationship with Aragorn. She was described by Frodo as, “Young she was and yet not so. The braids of her dark hair were touched by no frost, her white arms and clear face were flawless and smooth, and the light of stars was in her bright eyes, grey as a cloudless night; yet queenly she looked, and thought and knowledge were in her glance, as of one who has known many things that the years bring.” Thus, Arwen reflects that regal beauty of Our Lady, who is exalted as Queen.
- Éowyn. Daughter of Théodwyn and sister to Éomer, Éowyn was a woman who longed for battle and despised being sequestered to the “cage” that was her life. In the end it was her heroism in battle that defeated the Witch-King, where she proclaimed, “Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you.“ After her victory, she would eventually devote herself to “be a healer, and love all things that grow and are not barren.” Éowyn reflects that power of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who crushed the head of the serpent and is called the “Terror of Demons;” for when called upon, demons fly away from the sound of her name. Éowyn also reflects that healing power of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is called the “Health of the Sick,” “Comfort of the Afflicted” and “Help of Christians.”
As you can see, Tolkien infused his most prominent women in Middle-Earth with such great beauty as befits the Blessed Virgin Mary. He made certain that they each possessed a beauty in “majesty and simplicity,” for each had a regal beauty that was simple and pure. Each woman can not be said to fully represent Our Lady, yet they each had a specific attribute of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In the end, these women reflect the incomparable beauty of the “Fairest Daughter of the Father” and beckon us to call upon her in our need for she is also our Mother.