Today is the feast day of a brilliant son of Mary, although it was not always so. It was not that Bl. John Duns Scotus wasn't always devoted to the Mother of God, it was that he wasn't always brilliant. His intellect seems to have been a singular gift offered to him while still a youngster studying with the Cistercians -- for he wanted to be able to explain the truths of God. After having begged to be healed of his "dullness," he was infused with tremendous insights, leading one biographer to note:
He described the Divine Nature as if he had seen God; the celestial spirits as if he had been an angel;the happiness of the future state as if he had enjoyed them; and the ways of Providence as if he had penetrated into its secrets.
The Catholic Encyclopaedia explains where the gift led:
It was also in Paris that Bl. John came to be called as the "Marian Doctor" after he championed the privilege of Mary's Immaculate Conception. In England, Bl. John taught the truth of this Marian privilege without any opposition. But at Paris the situation was
reversed. The academic body of the University admitted only the purification of Mary in the womb of Her mother St. Anne, like St. John the Baptist. Alexander of Hales, St. Bonaventure, St. Thomas Aquinas, the great Parisian Masters, were not able to solve the problem of the universality of original sin and of the efficacy of Christ's Redemption. They thought that even the Blessed Virgin Mary was included in this universality, and therefore subject to contract the original stain even if only for an instant, so that she may also be
redeemed. Scotus in his attempt to introduce and teach a theological position different from that upheld by the university, had to appear in a public dispute before the whole academic body, at the risk of expulsion from the university if he failed to defend his doctrine. Bl. John Scotus prepared himself for the event in prayer and recollection
and in total confidence to the Immaculate Virgin, the Seat of Wisdom.
When the fixed day of the dispute arrived, on leaving the convent, he passed before a statue of Our Lady and with suppliant voice entreated her: "Allow me to praise You, O Most Holy Virgin; give me strength against your enemies." Our Lady responded with a prodigious visible sign: the head of the statue moved and bowed slightly before him. It
was as if to say: "Yes I will give you all the strength you need."
Two Papal legates presided over the dispute. Then with powerful dialectic and with deep and subtle reasoning, Bl. Scotus refuted all the objections of the learned men in attendance, undermining the foundation of every argument contrary to Mary's Immaculate Conception. Bl. John Scotus pointed out: "The Perfect Redeemer, must in some case, have done the work of redemption most perfectly, which would not be, unless there is some person, at least, in whose regard, the wrath of God was anticipated and not merely appeased." Bl. John triumphed. From that day the University of Paris took up the same cause to defend this privilege of the Blessed Virgin Mary.