In this answer it was stated that the Bible does support Marian devotion, which the Catholics practice.

In Luke, Mary says "all generations will call me blessed." I can see how this lends credence to Marian devotion, however, I think it is taking more than is given when you start saying things like "She is the Mediatrix of All Graces! She is the Cause of our Joy! She is the Singular Vessel of Devotion!"

So is there more to the Marian devotion as given by the Bible? For such devotion that the Catholics give her I would think there should be. Of course, since I am asking Catholics, I would permit using the other Catholic books, if there is something to be found in them.

Perhaps this should be another question, but if answers to the first are not enough in content I would permit how early Church fathers spoke of Mary as support for the Marian devotion. I would like to see if they said anything similar "cause of our Joy" or mediatrix of all graces." I would prefer writings from as early as possible. I would say later than AD 500 is too late.

  • 1
    So, you acknowledge that Roman Catholics have enough biblical support to call Mary blessed, right? Thus, you are looking for more evidence whether or not Mary should be the figure of devotion as much as Catholics give her, right?
    – Double U
    Commented Aug 4, 2013 at 1:28
  • This may be of interest to you: THE KINSHIP OF THE VIRGIN MARY, By: Haarmann, Harald, ReVision, 02756935, Winter98, Vol. 20, Issue 3. It answers part of your question, because it does state something along the lines of "you can't find the veneration of Mary within scriptures". However, it goes further to say that the veneration of Mary might be extrabiblical.
    – Double U
    Commented Aug 4, 2013 at 1:43
  • Aha! It claims that Mary, unlike her son Jesus, served the "popular role of a caring mother and protectress, and she did not need any apologetic rhetoric," whereas her son was the "main character in academic discourse of the early days." Psychologically, the populace might have been more attracted to Mary.
    – Double U
    Commented Aug 4, 2013 at 1:51
  • Check out wikipedia on Litany of Loreto
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Aug 4, 2013 at 2:39
  • @Anonymous Yes to your first comment.
    – user3961
    Commented Aug 4, 2013 at 4:41

2 Answers 2


Below are some links for a comprehensive "Bible study" about the doctrines and devotions of Catholic Marian theology. They also include many passages from the writings of early Church Fathers. I also highly recommend reading "Hail, Holy Queen" written by Dr. Scott Hahn.

The first 6 links establish a foundation for the Catholic doctrines pertaining to the veneration of Mary from both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

Examples of scripture passages that impliclty/explicitly pertain to “devotion:”

1 Kings 2:19 - in the Old Testament Davidic kingdom the King bows down to his mother and she sits at his right hand. We, as children of the New Covenant, should imitate our King and pay the same homage to Mary our Mother. By honoring Mary, we honor our King, Jesus Christ.

John 2:7 - Jesus allows His mother to intercede for the people on His behalf, and responds to His mother's request by ordering the servants to fill the jars with water. Matt. 2:11 - Luke emphasizes Jesus is with Mary His Mother, and the magi fall down before both of them, worshiping Jesus.

Luke 1:28 - "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you." These are the words spoken by God and delivered to us by the angel Gabriel (who is a messenger of God). Thus, when Catholics recite this verse while praying the Rosary, they are uttering the words of God.

Luke 1:28 - also, the phrase "full of grace" is translated from the Greek word "kecharitomene." This is a unique title given to Mary, and suggests a perfection of grace from a past event. Mary is not just "highly favored." She has been perfected in grace by God. "Full of grace" is only used to describe one other person - Jesus Christ in John 1:14.

Luke 1:38 - Mary's fiat is "let it be done to me according to thy word." Mary is the perfect model of faith in God, and is worthy of our veneration.

Luke 1:42 - "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus." The phrase "blessed are you among women" really means "you are most blessed of all women." A circumlocution is used because there is no superlative in the Greek language. Note also that Elizabeth praises Mary first, and then Jesus. This is hyperdulia (but not latria which is worship owed to God alone). We too can go through Mary to praise Jesus. Finally, Catholics repeat these divinely inspired words of Elizabeth in the Rosary.

Luke 1:43 - Elizabeth's use of "Mother of my Lord" (in Hebrew, Elizabeth used "Adonai" which means Lord God) is the equivalent of "Holy Mary, Mother of God" which Catholics pray in the Rosary. The formula is simple: Jesus is a divine person, and this person is God. Mary is Jesus' Mother, so Mary is the mother of God (Mary is not just the Mother of Jesus' human nature - mothers are mothers of persons, not natures).

Luke 1:44 - Mary's voice causes John the Baptist to leap for joy in Elizabeth's womb. Luke is teaching us that Mary is our powerful intercessor.

Examples of devotion to Mary from Church Fathers:

"Under your mercy we take refuge, O Mother of God. Do not reject our supplications in necessity, but deliver us from danger,[O you] alone pure and alone blessed." Sub Tuum Praesidium, From Rylands Papyrus, Egypt (3rd century).

"Recalling these and other circumstances and imploring the Virgin Mary to bring assistance, since she, too, was a virgin and had been in danger, she entrusted herself to the remedy of fasting and sleeping on the ground." Gregory of Nazianzen, Oration 24:11 (A.D. 379)

"Mary, the holy Virgin, is truly great before God and men. For how shall we not proclaim her great, who held within her the uncontainable One, whom neither heaven nor earth can contain?" Epiphanius, Panarion, 30:31 (ante A.D. 403).

"Hail, our desirable gladness; Hail, O rejoicing of the Churches; Hail, O name that breathes out sweetness; Hail, face that radiates divinity and grace; Hail, most venerable memory…" Theodotus of Ancrya, Homily 4:3 (ante A.D. 446).

http://scripturecatholic.com/blessed_virgin_mary.html#the_bvm-I http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15464b.htm http://www.catholicapologetics.org/ap080400.htm http://www.catholicapologetics.org/ap080300.htm http://zuserver2.star.ucl.ac.uk/~vgg/rc/aplgtc/hahn/m4/ma.html http://www.cin.org/users/james/files/key2mary.htm

The next 6 links are simply compilations of writings from the Church Fathers addressing official Catholic teaching. The 3rd link down specifically pertains to early Marian devotion, which specifically addresses the question of what the “pre-medieval” Church Fathers taught about devotion to Mary.


"O noble Virgin, truly you are greater than any other greatness. For who is your equal in greatness, O dwelling place of God the Word? To whom among all creatures shall I compare you, O Virgin? You are greater than them all O Covenant, clothed with purity instead of gold! You are the Ark in which is found the golden vessel containing the true manna, that is, the flesh in which divinity resides." Athanasius, Homily of the Papyrus of Turin,71:216(ante AD 373),in MCF,106

"Hail to thee Mary, Mother of God, to whom in towns and villages and in island were founded churches of true believers" Cyril of Alexandria, Homily 11(ante AD 444),in CE

"O Virgin all holy, he who has said of you all that is honorable and glorious has not sinned against the truth, but remains unequal to your merit. Look down upon us from above and be propitious to us. Lead us in peace and having brought us without shame to the throne of judgment, grant us a place at the right hand of your Son, that we may borne off to heaven and sing with angels to the uncreated, consubstantial Trinity" Basil of Seleucia, PG 85:452(ante AD 459),in THEO,187

"Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, because thou didst conceive Christ, the Son of God, the Redeemer of our souls" Coptic Ostraca (AD 600),in CE (early form of the Rosary)

Anyone who has attended a Melkite Catholic Divine Liturgy (considered the highest form of prayer in Catholicism) has heard the liturgy that was formulated St. John Chrysostom and has been celebrated in the East since the late 300’s. The liturgy is saturated with the utmost devotion to The Blessed Virgin Mary.

In the entrance prayers and 1rst 2 antiphons the following prayer is offered to God:

Deacon: Remembering our most holy, pure, blessed, and glorious Lady, the Theotokos and ever virgin Mary, with all the saints, let us commit ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.


One of the most devoted Church Fathers is St. Augustine. He is known for composing one of the most beautiful prayers to Mary in the Church (among many other great works):

Prayer of Saint Augustine to the Blessed Virgin

O blessed Virgin Mary, who can worthily repay thee thy just dues of praise and thanksgiving, thou who by the wondrous assent of thy will didst rescue a fallen world? What songs of praise can our weak human nature recite in thy honor, since it is by thy intervention alone that it has found the way to restoration. Accept, then, such poor thanks as we have here to offer, though they be unequal to thy merits; and receiving our vows, obtain by thy prayers the remission of our offenses. Carry thou our prayers within the sanctuary of the heavenly audience, and bring forth from it the antidote of our reconciliation. May the sins we bring before Almighty God through thee, become pardonable through thee; may what we ask for with sure confidence, through thee be granted. Take our offering, grant us our requests, obtain pardon for what we fear, for thou art the sole hope of sinners. Through thee we hope for the remission of our sins, and in thee, O blessed Lady, is our hope of reward. Holy Mary, succour the miserable, help the fainthearted, comfort the sorrowful, pray for thy people, plead for the clergy, intercede for all women consecrated to God; may all who keep thy holy commemoration feel now thy help and protection. Be thou ever ready to assist us when we pray, and bring back to us the answers to our prayers. Make it thy continual care to pray for the people of God, thou who, blessed by God, didst merit to bear the Redeemer of the world, who liveth and reigneth, world without end. Amen. (emphasis added)


http://www.cin.org/users/jgallegos/assumed.htm http://www.cin.org/users/jgallegos/immac.htm http://www.cin.org/users/jgallegos/mary_dev.htm http://www.cin.org/users/jgallegos/theotok.htm http://www.cin.org/users/jgallegos/venerate.htm http://www.cin.org/users/jgallegos/virgin.htm http://www.salvationhistory.com/library/category/apologetics

Also,the early reformers had a faithful devotion to Mary, and are perhaps good references for understanding Mary's place in salvation history.

"St. Paul says ‘God sent his Son born of a woman, These words which I hold for true, really sustain quite firmly that Mary is the Mother of God." -Martin Luther (Martin Luther’s Works, vol 7, page 592)

"A new lie about me is being circulated. I am supposed to have preached and written that Mary, the mother of God, was not a virgin either before or after the birth of Christ, but that she conceived Christ through Joseph, and had more children after that." -Martin Luther (That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew, 1523, LW, Vol. 45, page199)

"Helvidius displayed excessive ignorance in concluding that Mary must have had many sons, because Christ’s ‘brothers’ are sometimes mentioned." -John Calvin {Harmony of Matthew, Mark & Luke, sec. 39 (Geneva, 1562), vol. 2 / From Calvin’s Commentaries, tr. William Pringle, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1949, page 215; on Matthew 13:55}


Catholics venerate Mary by keeping the commandment to "honor thy Father and thy Mother. Christians are the adopted sons and daughters of God. Jesus honored his Earthly mother perfectly. Catholics just follow in Christ's footsteps through the Biblically based Tradition of venerating Mary.

  • That was a good answer. Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 10:39
  • You've posted a lot of links, but very little about why each one is relevant. Could you explain the relevance of your linkes and how they support your answer to the question?
    – wax eagle
    Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 16:36
  • Thank you for your answer. The parts about the reformers is interesting and leads to other questions. I would like to parrot what @waxeagle says. If you could give a little for each link and why it is helpful to answer my question that would be good.
    – user3961
    Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 18:03
  • One note of importance (at least in my mind) is that not all Marian devotion is required to be practiced Catholics. In other words the Church does not teach that it is a "requirement" to pray the Rosary to go to Heaven. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (which contains a complete synthesis of the Church's doctrines and dogmas) puts it in rather vague terms: "The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship."515 The Church rightly honors "the Blessed Virgin with special devotion... this differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word
    – user5286
    Commented Aug 6, 2013 at 15:58
  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church says also: “Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ. Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary. This form of prayerful reflection is of great value, but Christian prayer should go further to the knowledge of the love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him” (CCC 2708).
    – user5286
    Commented Aug 6, 2013 at 16:01

This question has been explored by Harald Haarmann in the peer-reviewed academic journal ReVision. You may need subscription to read the whole article. Many libraries have subscription to many academic, peer-reviewed journals, so if you are a member of a library, then you may access the online article or look at the article at the library. Anyway, according to the article, it reports:

Taken as a whole, the biblical narratives in which the mother of Jesus is mentioned do not provide the basis necessary for an explanation of the emergence of Mary's profound veneration of later times, nor do they contain any clue as to the conditions of how the cult of Mary originated. Neither the Scripture nor its later commentaries are of any help for the crucial question of Mary's popularity among the Christians of all times. Even in the Protestant tradition and its various sectarian affiliations, Mary's role is more prominent than one would expect from the marginal literary embedding of the Savior's mother in the New Testament.

The article emphasizes that the devotion to Mary lies in popular religiosity, or the piety of the people.

She did not become popular in the way that Jesus became known and was praised, this being evident from the efforts made by the apostles who tried their utmost to persuade the "pagans" of the righteousness of the Christian doctrine. Unlike Jesus, whose spiritual ideas were eloquently mapped out by his disciples and firmly imposed by officials of the early church on the pagan population in the provinces of the Roman Empire, Mary gained in prestige and status gradually, through the devotion of generations of Christian activists. If Jesus was the main character in the academic discourse of the early days, then Mary took the popular role of a caring mother and protectress, and she did not need any apologetic rhetoric.

It provides evidence that the clerical tradition of religious ideas and popular religiosity are two different things, thereby strengthening the idea that the people are attracted to the Blessed Mary as a caring mother and protectress, like other female divinities of the ancient world.

Mircea Eliade (1978-85) deserves credit for having been the first to emphasize the duality of the clerical tradition of religious ideas and popular religiosity and to elaborate on their different effects in the history of religion. Popular belief does not need literary sources. Instead, it relies heavily on oral and behavioral tradition. Popular religiosity is rooted in the mind, it appeals to emotions and feelings rather than to reason or to the dialectics of abstract logical thinking. Until recently, the history of religion was understood as the history of its institutions, rituals, and prominent figures, as the exegetics of sacred texts and the interpretation of commentaries on them, and as the philosophical reasoning about religious subjects through time. In recent years, archaeology, cultural history, and comparative anthropology have provided much additional data allowing for an assessment of popular religiosity and its intermingling with official religious trends across time.

The author explores the possible psychological and cultural factors that led to the Marian devotions. In the author's view,

For ordinary people, Christianity, with its male protagonist and its abstract salvation scheme for afterlife, the rescue of the soul, must have appeared to be much less comforting or comfortable than the rituals of immanent response from the gods that they were accustomed to in the world of polytheism. For instance, in the hemisphere of Roman culture, serving the gods was a matter of striking a bargain. The Roman way of religiosity followed the maxim of do ut des, "I give [to you, God,] so that you give [to me]." Obedience and conformity with the wishes of a divinity in rituals that had to be properly carried out were the main guarantors for the worshiper's success in daily affairs.

In a sense, the devotion of Mary is emotionally comforting, because Christianity is a mutually exclusive religion that forbids the worship of other gods. So, devoting to Mary is like a gap between the old polytheistic way of life and the new monotheistic way of life. It notes that Mary is the "arbitrator of monotheism" of the Christian religion due to devotion to her and making stone images of her.

A person who knows much about the history of monotheism, the field director of the Egypt Exploration Society's excavations at el-Amarna, Akhenaten's former capital, said in a recent pronouncement: "I find it illogical that Christianity should be classed as a monotheistic religion. If I wander around a major European church, seeing it with the eye of an archaeologist, the number and variety of sacred images in stone, wood, brass and stained glass will lead me to reconstruct a very elaborate and many-centered system of belief which includes a Trinity or Triad of divine entities" (Kemp 1989, 263). Those who are conscious of Mary's importance in Christian religion may be inclined to renounce its monotheistic character, while those who prefer to marginalize the female aspect will not. Anyway, the cult of the Virgin Mary will remain on the agenda to crystallize ordinary people's devotion and to inspire scholarly work.

  • +1 for an answer that is interesting to read. However, in the event that there is little Biblical content to support the Marian devotion, I specifically requested words from early Church fathers. So I certainly cannot select this.
    – user3961
    Commented Aug 4, 2013 at 19:54
  • Do you mean by the apostles?
    – Double U
    Commented Aug 4, 2013 at 20:07
  • @fredsbend This Catholic apologist explains the theological and biblical basis for praying to Mary. It's not academic, but it may be what you are searching for: catholic.com/radio/shows/why-do-we-pray-to-mary-6581
    – Double U
    Commented Aug 4, 2013 at 22:14
  • @fredsbend From the same website, you may want to check out this resource: catholic.com/video/praying-to-mary-a-biblical-defense
    – Double U
    Commented Aug 4, 2013 at 22:17

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