Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

In a response in another thread, one individual mentioned that the virgin Mary was “the perfect non-divine human being.”

Is this an accepted Catholic belief?

If it is, what need was there for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ? Jesus was born without the stain of Original Sin. According to Catholic belief, the Immaculate Conception also preserved Mary from the stain of Original Sin. Jesus was absolutely sinless. According to Catholic belief, Mary never sinned either (isn’t this what “perfect” implies?).

Why, then, didn’t Mary qualify to be our savior instead of Jesus? What need was there for God the Father to send His Son Jesus Christ when He could have asked Mary to offer herself for the sins of the world, since Mary was “the perfect non-divine human being”?

share|improve this question
up vote 8 down vote accepted

In a response in another thread, one individual mentioned that the virgin Mary was "the perfect non-divine human being."

I am that individual, and by perfect, I meant sinless. Which is perfect in God's eyes.Matthew 5:48

Is this an accepted Catholic belief?


  • "If anyone shall say that a man once justified can sin no more, nor lose grace, and that therefore he who falls and sins was never truly justified; or, on the contrary, that throughout his whole life he can avoid all sins even venial sins, except by a special privilege of God, as the Church holds in regard to the Blessed Virgin: let him be anathema." - The Council of Trent, Canon 23.

  • It was she (Mary), the second Eve, who, free from all sin, original or personal, and always more intimately united with her Son. - Pope Pius XII in Mystici Corporis, 110

  • In consequence of a Special Privilege of Grace from God, Mary was free from every personal sin during her whole life. - Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma by Ludwig Ott

Why then didn't Mary qualify to be our savior instead of Jesus?

Because Mary was not sinless on her own. Everything that is perfect in Mary comes from God. Mary would not be sinless if Christ did not die on the cross. In other words, God acts outside time, so at the moment of her conception, God used the grace of redemption merited on the cross to protect Mary from original sin by a single act of grace.

The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin. - Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus (1854)

share|improve this answer
If Mary was not sinless on her own, that would make her a sinner - doesn't that make her exactly the same as any other believer in Christ? Sinless because of Christ's death on a cross? – Ian Apr 29 '14 at 12:38
I remember discussing how original sin would make her not sinless and I was informed of a story (less known to Protestants) which described her conception as unique as well. Maybe you want to add that to this answer? – The Freemason Apr 29 '14 at 12:47
To @Ian : Mary not being sinless on her own does not make her a sinner. From Catholic perspective she was protected from sin at the moment of conception. And all thru her life she did not sin because she was not conceived in sin. – Jayarathina Madharasan Apr 29 '14 at 13:59
Are there are Catholic writings that state that Mary was preserved from every sin, not only original sin? I'd appreciate it if you could include those as well. – Simply a Christian Apr 29 '14 at 21:14
@Mushy The Bible says ALL have sinned. You've allowed for one exception (Jesus) and provided a reason. But can you be certain that God did not make one more exception? And it's not just because Mary was chosen to be the mother of Jesus, but because God did specific things to make her sinless. – DJClayworth May 1 '14 at 1:12

What Jayarathina Madharasan wrote is correct, but I'd like to add another aspect of the Catholic view of the situation. Any offense agains the infinitely good and holy God requires an infinite atonement, and that requires a divine being, not a mere human, to make the atonement. So the redemption of the human race could not be accomplished by Mary, who is, despite all her perfections, a creature. It could be accomplished only by God Himself, becoming one of us to redeem us.

share|improve this answer
"So the redemption of the human race could not be accomplished by Mary, who is, despite all her perfections, a creature" - so it would then be an error to call her "co-redemptrix"? – bruised reed Apr 29 '14 at 19:44
Maria co-redemptrix is not a formally-defined dogma, although Irenaeus (before 200AD) referred to Mary as "cause of our salvation" because she bore Christ. It is in that way that without Mary there would be no salvation. – Andrew Leach Apr 29 '14 at 21:49
@AndrewLeach: Mary bore Christ, making her the "cause of our salvation." Adam is Mary's ultimate ancestor, which means he too must be a "cause of our salvation." – Simply a Christian Apr 29 '14 at 23:18
@H "O happy fault! O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!" @b It has not been held either to be in error or not in error. And my opinion is neither here nor there. – Andrew Leach Apr 30 '14 at 6:01
The discussion here provides a good idea why the Church has not made an official decision on "co-redemptrix": the term can be understood in different ways, some of which are in accordance with Catholic doctrine and others of which are not. I'd hope that, if the Church ever makes an official decision, it would provide a clear statement of the exact sense in which it intends the term to be understood. – Andreas Blass Apr 30 '14 at 14:14

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.