Éowyn | Fearless Virgin Warrior, Virgin Most Faithful

Meditation of the Day

Éowyn, the White Lady of Rohan, is deservedly one of the most popular of Tolkien’s female characters. Proud shield-maiden of a warrior race, languishing in the role of nursemaid to an ailing king, desperate to achieve renown or at least an honourable death in battle—at first glance she seems more at home in the pages of the Nordic sagas than in those of the Christian Bible. Yet the development of her character shows that she is richly imbued with Marian symbolism. This is most evident in the confrontation with the Lord of the Nazgûl, this most powerful of Sauron’s servants, an ancient sorcerer and warrior whose mere presence is enough to make men and beasts flee in blind terror. Yet Éowyn stands undaunted before him, and promises to smite him if he should dare to touch her fallen king and kinsman, Théoden. “Still she did not blench: maiden of the Rohirrim, child of kings, slender but as a steel-blade, fair yet terrible.” It is by her purity as well as her courage that she is able to withstand this maleficent foe.

Although she has disguised her womanhood to ride with the other warriors to the aid of besieged Minas Tirith, it is significant that it is as a woman that she defeats the Black Captain. With astounding defiance, she removes her helm, lets her golden hair flow freely, and declares herself to be a woman. Christian ears hear once again an echo of the prophecy of Genesis 3:15, that God would put enmities between the serpent and the woman; she it is who will crush his head (Latin Vulgate version). There was a prophecy about the Witch-king, too, uttered a thousand years earlier by Glorfindel: “not by the hand of man will he fall” (see Judges 4:9). In his arrogance, the Ringwraith takes these words to mean that he is invulnerable to anyone living. How fitting that in the wise designs of providence, this ancient lord of death would be felled by a youthful vessel of life. It is also fitting that she should (unknowingly) avenge her future husband.

All hell trembles before the Virgin of virgins, our Mother. Standing beside her on the battleground, we need fear no evil. She fights for Love, and she promises, “In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”

Prayer

Inviolata, integra, et casta es Maria,
quae es effecta fulgida caeli porta.

O Mater alma Christi carissima,
suscipe pia laudum praeconia.

Te nunc flagitant devota corda et ora,
nostra ut pura pectora sint et corpora.

Tu per precata dulcisona,
nobis concedas veniam per saecula.

O benigna! O Regina! O Maria,
quae sola inviolata permansisti.
Inviolate, spotless and pure art thou,
O Mary Who wast made the radiant gate of the King.

Holy mother of Christ most dear,
receive our devout hymn and praise.

Our hearts and tongues now ask of thee
that our souls and bodies may be pure.

By thy sweet sounding prayers
obtain for us forgiveness forever.

O gracious queen, O Mary,
who alone among women art inviolate.

Musical Selection

Action Points

  • Consider how obedience to God and humility do not mean adopting a passive, subservient attitude. They may call us to bold, vigorous resistance to the evil that we see prevailing around us. Like Éowyn, we may need to step outside the conventional roles and societal norms to which we have been relegated.
  • Consider how living out authentic femininity (and masculinity) is in itself a rebellion against the kingdom of darkness.
  • Pray specifically for the virtue of purity, which slays the enemy’s mount with a single blow.

To Go Deeper