Mary, the Mother of Jesus was present at the foot of the Cross as her Son was dying in order to ransom mankind from sin.

This got me thinking that Mary must hold a special place in Catholic devotion. As Catholic priests offer the sacrifice of Our Lord on the altar, could not Mary have offered her Son on the altar of the Cross for our salvation?

I have been able to find a few pieces of religious art that shows the Virgin Mary dressed in priestly attire and I have included one here:

The Virgin Mary wearing a chasuble and stole

My question is quite simple: Does the Catholic Church allow us to honor Mary under the title of the Virgin Priest and if so what are the directives on it from Rome?

  • 3
    Wow. No. Just no. I'll put together an answer at some point. Mar 27, 2016 at 20:08
  • 1
    But in brief, WAY NO. Mar 27, 2016 at 20:19
  • 4
    The biggest challenge with your question to me is the idea of Mary having any authority to offer Jesus as sacrifice. Consider John 10:17-18. Mar 28, 2016 at 0:52
  • 3
    An interesting thought, but there are some problems with the idea that Mary offered her Son as a sacrifice. That would imply Mary choosing to sacrifice her Son, and Jesus submitting to her will. Mary did not have a say in the matter. Rather, it was the will of God, the Father, that came into play. He offered his Son (John 3:16, etc.), and Jesus submitted his will to the Father. The Father is the one who would be most like a priest, Jesus being the sacrifice, while Mary would be a participant with the others. I don't have a Catholic perspective, though, so I'm just adding this as a comment. Mar 28, 2016 at 5:31
  • No, Mary is a supereme Deaconess, if anything. Only men can be made priests. Because they are ordained 'alter Chrisus'. Who is male. However, she did have certain sacerdotal funcations, as even we can. She did comply with what she most certainly did not want ot have to see, and thus offer as a sacrifice, her Son's suffering and death to God. But this was a detail of Mary's life, and the Redemption was not hinged around Mary's role. It was, however, hinged, in a real way, on Mary's 'yes' to be the new Eve who doesn't bring sin, but the New Adan to the tree of Life where He takes it away. Jul 7, 2017 at 13:50

4 Answers 4


St. Alphonsus di Liguori used to pray: "Nos cum prole pia benedicat Virgo Maria." (May the Virgin Mary bless us with her pious offspring [Jesus].) Thus it seems she has the ability to bless, yet this isn't necessarily reserved to ordained priests in all circumstances.

She is a "priest" (or sacerdote, "a giver of the sacred"), but she was not ordained a priest, as she was not present at the Last Supper when Jesus instituted the sacrament of Orders by washing the feet of His disciples. Nor could she be an ordained priest; only men can be ordained priests.

Although all Christians are a "kingly priesthood" (1 Peter 2:9), not all Christians are Ordained priests.

One of the greatest mariologists and Doctor of the Church, St. Albert the Great, wrote (Mariale 42 & 165):

The Blessed Virgin was not called by God to be a minister, but a consort and a helper, in accordance with the words "Let us make him a help like unto himself."

Quoted in Fr. Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.'s Mother of The Savior and Our Interior Life (p. 42).


The idea of the priesthood of Mary "seems to have been around since the writing of the early Fathers of the Church in the 4th century and is wonderfully illustrated in striking mages of Mary dressed in priest’s vestments – some dating from as early as the 6th century."

"First of all I would like to refer to the question of the title of priest attributed to the Virgin in tradition. A writer of the end of the fifth century calls Mary "Virgin, and at the same time priest, and altar who has given us Christ -- bread of Heaven for the remission of sins."1 After this, there were frequent references to the topic of Mary as priest, which subsequently became the object of theological developments in the 17th century, in the French school of St. Sulpice. In it, Mary's priesthood is not placed so much in the context of a relationship with the ministerial priesthood, but rather with that of Christ."

At the end of the 19th century a true and proper devotion to the Virgin-priest spread, and St. Pius X even accorded an indulgence to its relative practice. However, when the danger was perceived of confusing the priesthood of Mary with the ministerial priesthood, the magisterium of the Church became reticent and two interventions of the Holy Office practically put an end to such devotion.

After the council, the priesthood of Mary is still spoken of, but it is no longer linked to the ministerial priesthood nor to the supreme priesthood of Christ, but rather to the universal priesthood of the faithful. As figure and first fruits of the Church, she possessed in a personal way that "royal priesthood" (1 Peter 2:9), that all the baptized possess in a collective way. - Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap, Pontifical Household Preacher.

Here is what Br. John M Samaha, SM has to say on this matter:

"In the seventeenth century, Salazar and other Spanish theologians compare her role with that of the Christ and identify it with her redemptive mission.9 In the same century, another line of thought associated with Berulle and the French School of Spirituality appeared, and continued throughout the eighteenth century. While its inspiration originates in the Spanish school, this new line of thought overshadows Salazar's interpretation, due principally to Olier and the seminary of St. Sulpice. In the French School, Mary was invoked and contemplated as the model of the priest, and honored as "Virgo Sacerdos, the Virgin Priest."10

In the nineteenth century, the Marian writings of the early decades are vacuous and sentimental. By the middle of the century, a rebirth is detected. Theologians began to restore to Mariology its theological content, and to connect again with the movements of the seventeenth century. Once again, mediation, co-redemption and the sacerdotal aspect of Mary's mission gain ascendancy in their studies.11

Around 1870, the idea of living as a victim began to gain popularity among a number of generous souls, especially women religious, who proposed to assist the priests through their prayers and sacrifices. They thought naturally of Mary praying and offering herself for and with her son, and they loved to consider her as their sacerdotal virgin or the virgin Priest. This devotion aroused great enthusiasm, and was at times expressed in formulas scarcely theological.12"

"During the reign of Pius X, the Holy Office issued a decree stating that "the representation of Mary clothed in sacerdotal vestments was disapproved." In reality, the representation in question was that of an orante, which some persons mistook for Mary vested as a priest. In 1926-1927, the Holy Office again opposed the propagation of devotion to the "Virgin Priest." Even though only the picture and the spread of this devotion have been forbidden, Rome is evidently unfavorable to this title, since it might lead poorly-instructed Catholics to believe that Mary had received the sacrament of Holy Orders. Yet these decrees of the Holy Office in no way affected the pronouncements of Popes Pius IX and Pius X that Mary was "an associate of the Divine Sacrifice," and that she was enriched with "as much dignity and grace as are found in the priesthood."13 - Br. John M Samaha, SM

Pope Pius X was originally in favour of this invocation:

"In 1906, Pope Pius X approved a prayer which says "Mary, Virgin Priest, pray for us." (emphasis mine). However, a Holy Office decree of 1916 forbade the use of any image that had Mary wearing vestments – some say for fear of the possibilty of an argument for women’s ordination, others that Mary as a priest was a metaphorical image taken too far."-The Priesthood of Mary

enter image description here

enter image description here

If Mary is a priest, it is not by virtue of priestly ordination because she was not ordained a priest, but rather by virtue of her association with her Divine Son during the Passion.

Images of Mary wearing priestly vestments are now forbidden. We may have a personal devotion to Mary under the title of Virgin Priest, but may not spread its devotion without the approval of Rome!

The following may be beneficial to some:

  • Interesting answer. Is Mary's "role as priest" pastoral per this tradition? St Chrysostom’s is an Anglican (Church of England) parish church in Manchester ... unless you find the imprimatur from Rome on that idea/tradition, chances are Catholics will not be encouraged to honor Mary as priest. Mar 28, 2016 at 18:44
  • 1
    +1 to complement the doctrinal answer from Geremia by providing multi-disciplinary historical details to support that the answer is not as straightforward Oct 21, 2019 at 6:18
  • 1
    @KorvinStarmast Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap, Pontifical Household Preacher states the same thing.
    – Ken Graham
    Oct 23, 2019 at 4:45

Are Catholics permitted to honour Mary as a priest?

Since you ask "are" (which implies current teaching1) the answer is no.

As Catholic priests offer the sacrifice of Our Lord on the altar, could not Mary have offered her Son on the altar of the Cross for our salvation?

That isn't the role she played. (The church does not give the site you referred to its imprimatur). She accepted God's will long before the passion:

Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."(Luke 1:38)

Jesus (in his role as high priest) offered himself in sacrifice upon the cross. (There are a variety of references to Christ acting as both priest and sacrifice, in contrast to the old priesthood which sacrificed lambs, etc, on the altar. The three articles summarizing this are all built upon doctrine and scripture: 2 Timothy 2:5, Hebrews 5:10; 7:26, 10:14; St. Thomas Aquinas, commentary on Hebrews. 8,4; Revelation 1:6; 5:9-10; 1 Peter 2:5,9; Lumen Gentium 10 articles 1 & 2)

CCC 1544 Everything that the priesthood of the Old Covenant prefigured finds its fulfillment in Christ Jesus, the "one mediator between God and men." The Christian tradition considers Melchizedek, "priest of God Most High," as a prefiguration of the priesthood of Christ, the unique "high priest after the order of Melchizedek"; "holy, blameless, unstained," "by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified," that is, by the unique sacrifice of the cross.

1545 The redemptive sacrifice of Christ is unique, accomplished once for all; yet it is made present in the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Church. The same is true of the one priesthood of Christ; it is made present through the ministerial priesthood without diminishing the uniqueness of Christ's priesthood: "Only Christ is the true priest, the others being only his ministers."

1546 Christ, high priest and unique mediator, has made of the Church "a kingdom, priests for his God and Father." The whole community of believers is, as such, priestly. The faithful exercise their baptismal priesthood through their participation, each according to his own vocation, in Christ's mission as priest, prophet, and king. Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation the faithful are "consecrated to be . . . a holy priesthood."

To get real nitpicky, Mary wasn't baptized. She didn't need to be, as she was conceived without the stain of original sin. (That's the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception).

Besides the point that only men are ordained priests, "honoring her as a priest" might be a slight to the Mother of God, given that she serves as Queen in Heaven.

CCC 966 "Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death." The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son's Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians: Lumen Gentium 59; Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus (1950):

In a word, no, in current teaching Mary is not honored as a priest. A more detailed treatment of her role in the church and in salvation is presented in Lumen Gentium, Chapter VIII, articles 58-69.

(LG 69) The entire body of the faithful pours forth instant supplications to the Mother of God and Mother of men that she, who aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers, may now, exalted as she is above all the angels and saints, intercede before her Son in the fellowship of all the saints ...

1 Then again, the church teaches that Mary is to be venerated and encourages petitions to her to for intercession on behalf of the faithful. There are still those whose devotion to Mary looks a lot like worship, even though that contradicts the teaching of the church. I've met quite a few, here in Texas. (Syncretism and the Cult of the Virgin, from Mexico southwards, is a book length topic).


Are Catholics permitted to honour Mary as a priest?

The answer is Yes, all Catholics are permitted. St. Pius X even granted 300 days indulgences on the faithfuls who will invoke Mary's intercession under this title.

"Mary Virgin Priest, pray for us". (St. Pius X; 1906)

Controversy arises during reign of Pope Benedict XVI, that led to the Holy See to forbid the propagation of images of the Mary wearing the vestment of the priest, but it's clear that the Holy See does not forbid the saying of the prayer devotion.

Pope Benedict personally addressed in numerous letters the pilgrims at Marian sanctuaries. He named Mary the Patron of Bavaria, and permitted, in Mexico, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Guadaloupe. He authorised the Feast of Mary Mediator of all Graces. He condemned the misuse of Marian statues and pictures, dressed in priestly robes, which he outlawed 4 April 1916. (AAS 1916 146 Baumann in Marienkunde; 673) - Pope Benedict XV (Wikipedia)

What Pope Benedict XV condemned was not the prayer devotion instituted by St. Pius X but the misuse of the images.

So, the prayer devotion honoring and imploring the intercession of Mary Virgin Priest continues until today, unless a Pope officially prohibits the acts of St. Pius X pertains to the devotion and to granting indulgences.

Is Mary Virgin Priest a real priesthood? The answer is Yes. A Pope cannot grant indulgences to a metaphorical priest. See this link on the basis of St. Pius X on approving the prayer devotion to Mary Virgin Priest.

What is the basis of St. Pius X in 1906 that led to the approval of the prayer devotion; "Mary Virgin Priest, pray for us"?

Granting that Mary is a Virgin Priest, the question is when and who ordained Mary into priesthood? Is her priesthood an ordinary priesthood like the presbyters or a full priesthood like the Bishop?

Certainly Mary, was not yet a priest during her childhood days even if it's spent serving in the Temple for ten years. And after that, we can see from the gospel that Mary was betrothed to a man name Joseph. This is a mystery, so where can we find the first mystery? The Holy Rosary starts with the Joyful Mystery and it is the "Mystery of the Annunciation".

There exists the belief that the Annunciation acted as Mary’s ordination. There is also a belief that through her ‘yes’, Mary made Christ present in the world, in her womb – as the priest makes Christ present in the words of consecration. In an address by Bishop Nazlian, at Lourdes in 1914 said “ A priest has the power to mystically produce the body of the Lord giving that body its sacramental form . . . . I allow myself to say that Mary is the first to say Mass, by agreeing to the Incarnation and so preparing the victim.” - The Priesthood of Mary

Does the Annunciation ordained Mary into priesthood? Let's ponder the gospel passage from the heart like Mary ponder and treasure everything from her heart.

And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. (Luke1:28 ; Douay-Rheims)

  1. The angel pronounce the word "Hail", it is a salutation appropriate only for a King & Queen. Therefore, the angel acknowledge Mary as Queen.

What does a "greeting" gives? When Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth her "greetings" made Elizabeth and her baby leaped for joy and be "filled with the Holy Spirit".

The angel greetings also, brings the outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit it made Mary's state of soul not just filled by grace but rather it was "full of grace".

Is this what happen to all the Apostles in the Upper Room they were all "filled with the Holy Spirit"? Yes.

"All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them."(Acts2:4)

God said in Amos3:7;

" For the Lord God doth nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets."

  1. King David was anointed by prophet Samuel for him to become Prince of Israel. Eventually became King of Israel.

Samuel Anoints David

  1. Jesus Baptism in the Jordan river, the coming down of the Holy Spirit was in the presence & witnessed by the Last Great Prophet St.John the Baptist.

The Baptism of Jesus

  1. St.Paul was "filled by the Holy Spirit" before he was sent in the mission in the presence of the prophets.

Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. (Acts13:1-3)

  1. The Apostles received the anointing of the Holy Spirit in the presence of Mary the Prophet. Is Mary a prophet, Yes.

She is the Queen of Prophets. See the the Litanies Lauretane

Is Archangel Gabriel a servant of God? Gabriel reveals himself to Zechariah,

“I am Gabriel,” replied the angel. “I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. "(Luke1:19)

Is Gabriel a prophet, since he comes from the Heavenly Realm, he is not only a prophet but a celestial prophet in the Kingdom of God.

Did Archangel Gabriel prophesy to Mary? Yes!

"You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke1:31-32)

So, God is the one who sent his servant Archangel Gabriel who prophesy to Mary His Divine Plan for the Logos.

What is the rank of angel Gabriel in the Kingdom of God?

Gabriel (/ˈɡeɪbriəl/; Hebrew: גַּבְרִיאֵל‎, lit. 'Gavri'el "God is my strength"', Ancient Greek: Γαβριήλ, lit. 'Gabriel', Coptic: Ⲅⲁⲃⲣⲓⲏⲗ, Aramaic: ܓܒܪܝܝܠ‎, Arabic: جبريل, Jibrīl or جبرائيل Jibrāʾīl), in the Abrahamic religions, is an archangel. He was first described in the Hebrew Bible and was subsequently adopted by other traditions.

In the Hebrew Bible, Gabriel appears to the prophet Daniel to explain his visions (Daniel 8:15–26, 9:21–27). The archangel appears in such other ancient Jewish writings as the Book of Enoch. Alongside archangel Michael, Gabriel is described as the guardian angel of Israel, defending this people against the angels of the other nations.

The Gospel of Luke relates the stories of the Annunciation, in which the angel Gabriel appears to Zechariah and the Virgin Mary, foretelling the births of John the Baptist and Jesus, respectively (Luke 1:11–38). Many Christian traditions—including Anglicanism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Roman Catholicism—revere Gabriel as a saint.

Islam regards Gabriel as an archangel sent by God to various prophets, among them Muhammad.[8] The first five verses of the 96th chapter of the Quran, the Clot, is believed by Muslims to have been the first verses revealed by Gabriel to Muhammad.Archangel Gabriel (Wikipedia)

The Archangel also said "the Lord is with you" signifying the presence of the "spiritual mark" of the priesthood like the "holy chrism" which put a "spiritual mark" on the priesthood of a priest or bishops.

And lastly, the Angel Gabriel finished ordination by pronouncing the blessings saying "blessed are you among women".

Did Mary share in the Priesthood of her Son? De Salazar, a great Marian theologian of the 17th century says of Mary, “not only did Christ pour the fullness of his priestly annointing on Mary but He emptied it on her” and therefore of her role at Calvary; “ the Blessed Virgin fulfilled the office of the Priest in that showing her will in all things to conform to the will of her son, she offered and sacrificed him on the altar of the Cross as Christ did himself.”

What is the proof of Mary has the faculties of a priest to ordained and confer the gifts of the Holy Spirit?

Vincent de Paul in the 17th Century, says of the Visitation to Elizabeth, “The Blessed Virgin, as Bishop in the Church, sanctified the son of the high priest Zachariah. She sanctified St. John and through the imposition of her power, using her right as Mother of God and spouse of the Father, she imprinted the Holy Spirit on St. John”. - The Priesthood of Mary

In closing, Mary Virgin Priest is an honor given to Mary permitted by the Church and granted an indulgences to all the faithful who seek Mary's intercession under this title.

Mary's priesthood is a real priesthood as St.Vincent De Paul affirmed that Mary's Visitation to St.Elizabeth sanctified St.John the Baptist and She imprinted the Holy Spirit on his soul as "spiritual mark".

The only question is, if Mary was not ordained to a Sacramental Order of priesthood, what is the order of Her ordination?

  • 1
    “After the council, the priesthood of Mary is still spoken of, but it is no longer linked to the ministerial priesthood nor to the supreme priesthood of Christ, but rather to the universal priesthood of the faithful. As figure and first fruits of the Church, she possessed in a personal way that "royal priesthood" (1 Peter 2:9), that all the baptized possess in a collective way.” - Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFMCap, Pontifical Household Preacher
    – Ken Graham
    Oct 25, 2019 at 0:42
  • @KenGraham I answered your question "Are Catholics permitted to honour Mary as a priest? The answer is Yes. Does the order of priesthood either ministerial or royal priesthood prevented Catholics to say this prayer and continue to honor Mary's intercession under the title Mary Virgin Priest? No. Mary Virgin Priest is still honor until today. Oct 25, 2019 at 0:46

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .