Source: Blaspheming Mary no longer crime. (1996). National Catholic Reporter, 33(5), 7.

I searched for "blasphemy" and "Mary" on EbscoHost and found an article from 1996 that stated that the blasphemy of Mary was no longer criminal in Italy. That meant, prior to that time, the blasphemy of Mary was bad and serious.

Why was the blasphemy of Mary and the saints bad? What, for example, was considered blasphemy against Mary, and how might a person prevent it? Were non-Christians excused from blasphemy?

  • 1
    I don't know about Italian law, but there seems to be an easy answer to "Why is blasphemy of Mary bad?", namely: How do you feel if someone insults your mother? Would you want Jesus to feel that way about you? Commented Apr 4, 2014 at 16:06

2 Answers 2


Honestly, I think this is as much a question about Italian culture as it is about any Christian belief. The Italian culture produced laws against blaspheming saints; in the USA there were sin taxes and then the prohibition movement. I'm not sure that the reasons why are directly Christianity-related.

That said, one can point to common beliefs that influenced the practices. In this case Christians believe:

First, it falls generally under the umbrella of obscenities. Here is a previous answer regarding "bad words."

Secondly, to speak disrespectfully of those to whom one owes respect is wrong. It is, among other things, a violation of the principle of love. The ultimate transgression of this is to speak disrespectfully of God. Another example is to disrespect one's parents. Both of these cases make it into the Ten Commandments. These two cases are given special attention, but the general principle holds.

However, as to the laws themselves, I'd put them down to human nature in the context of a common moral code. Compare with modern attempts to outlaw "hate speech."

  • Do you have references?
    – Double U
    Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 11:39
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    For which statement, exactly? I included five references of varying degrees of relevance (now a sixth).
    – galdre
    Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 15:19

We also have to consider that in the Italian language, blasphemous phrases are commonplace and generally regarded as standard verbal interjections in informal environments. It is therefore not so surprising that laws concerning blasphemy had a certain complexity in Italy, but eventually were completely decriminalized in 1999 (a good article describing how and why is here).

To answer your original question, Blasphemy against the Holy Mother of God is bad because it targets a human being with a close relationship to God himself, and therefore infringes the second commandment

"Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain"

Which translationally is valid also for God's relatives and family.

  • But Mary is a human being. Every human being on this planet is genetically related to each other in some way, and many of us have common ancestors. Why is Mary closest to God, when she is a human being like the other human beings?
    – Double U
    Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 0:56
  • 1
    When Federico says Mary has a close relationship with God, I don't think he means a close genetic relationship.
    – galdre
    Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 1:07

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