General Resources

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Mary

As the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary has a unique position among the saints, indeed, among all creatures. She is exalted, yet still one of us.

Redeemed by reason of the merits of her Son and united to Him by a close and indissoluble tie, she is endowed with the high office and dignity of being the Mother of the Son of God, by which account she is also the beloved daughter of the Father and the temple of the Holy Spirit. Because of this gift of sublime grace she far surpasses all creatures, both in heaven and on earth. At the same time, however, because she belongs to the offspring of Adam she is one with all those who are to be saved.  (Lumen Gentium, no. 53)

Mary embraces God’s will and freely chooses to cooperate with God’s grace, thereby fulfilling a crucial role in God’s plan of salvation. Throughout the centuries, the Church has turned to the Blessed Virgin in order to come closer to Christ. Many forms of piety toward the Mother of God developed that help bring us closer to her Son. In these devotions to Mary, “while the Mother is honored, the Son, through whom all things have their being and in whom it has pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell, is rightly known, loved and glorified and . . . all His commands are observed.” The Church honors her as the Mother of God, looks to her as a model of perfect discipleship, and asks for her prayers to God on our behalf.

The Church’s Teachings on Mary
Why does Mary have a special role in helping us?

As the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary has a unique position among the saints, indeed, among all creatures. She is exalted, yet still one of us.

Redeemed by reason of the merits of her Son and united to Him by a close and indissoluble tie, she is endowed with the high office and dignity of being the Mother of the Son of God, by which account she is also the beloved daughter of the Father and the temple of the Holy Spirit. Because of this gift of sublime grace she far surpasses all creatures, both in heaven and on earth. At the same time, however, because she belongs to the offspring of Adam she is one with all those who are to be saved.

Mary embraces God’s will and freely chooses to cooperate with God’s grace, thereby fulfilling a crucial role in God’s plan of salvation. Throughout the centuries, the Church has turned to the Blessed Virgin in order to come closer to Christ. Many forms of piety toward the Mother of God developed that help bring us closer to her Son. In these devotions to Mary, “while the Mother is honored, the Son, through whom all things have their being and in whom it has pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell, is rightly known, loved and glorified and . . . all His commands are observed.”33 The Church honors her as the Mother of God, looks to her as a model of perfect discipleship, and asks for her prayers to God on our behalf.

How does our veneration of Mary and the saints relate to our worship of God?

The honor we give to God alone is properly called adoration, the highest honor we can give. The honor we give to Mary and the saints is called veneration. Proper veneration of the saints does not interfere with the worship due to God, but rather fosters it. “Our communion with those in heaven, provided that it is understood in the fuller light of faith according to its genuine nature, in no way weakens, but conversely, more thoroughly enriches the latreutic worship we give to God the Father, through Christ, in the Spirit.” With this understanding, we see that proper veneration of Mary does not detract from worship of God. Even as the Mother of the Savior, Mary has a place that is in every way subordinate to and dependent upon that of her Son, who is the one mediator between God and humanity. The maternal role that Mary fulfills toward us as Mother of the Church “in no wise obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows His power.”

The Second Vatican Council explained very clearly that Mary can be said to fulfill a mediating role only in a secondary and derivative manner:

For no creature could ever be counted as equal with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer. Just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by the ministers and by the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is really communicated in different ways to His creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source.

What Mary does for the salvation of the human family does not come from her own power, but from a gift of divine grace that is bestowed on her through her Son. All the salvific influence that she bestows on us is produced “not from some inner necessity, but from the divine pleasure. It flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on His mediation, depends entirely on it and draws all its power from it.”38 Mary in no way replaces Christ. Rather, her role is to bring us to Christ, as is illustrated in Mary’s admonition at the wedding feast of Cana, “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5).

Excerpts from Popular Devotional Practices: Basic Questions and Answers Copyright © 2003, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc., Washington, D.C. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

Marian Glossary

ANNUNCIATION: The visit of the angel Gabriel to the virgin Mary to inform her that she was to be the mother of the Savior. After giving her consent to God’s word, Mary became the mother of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.

ASSUMPTION: The dogma which recognizes the Blessed Virgin Mary’s singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection by which she was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, when the course of her earthly life was finished.

HAIL MARY: The prayer known in Latin as the Ave Maria. The first part of the prayer praises God for the gifts he gave to Mary as Mother of the Redeemer; the second part seeks her maternal intercession for the members of the Body of Christ, the Church, of which she is the Mother.

IMMACULATE CONCEPTION: The dogma proclaimed in Christian Tradition and defined in 1854, that from the first moment of her conception, Mary–by the singular grace of God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ–was preserved immune from original sin.

MAGNIFICAT: The title commonly given to the Latin text and vernacular translation of the Canticle (or Song) of Mary that she recites at the time of the visitation. The canticle begins with “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.”

MARY: The mother of Jesus. Because she is the mother of Jesus–Son of God and second Person of the Blessed Trinity–according to the flesh, she is rightly called the Mother of God (Theotokos). Mary is also called “full of grace,” and “Mother of the Church,” and in Christian prayer and devotion, “Our Lady,” the “Blessed Virgin Mary,” and the “New Eve.”

PRESENTATION: The presentation and dedication of Jesus to God by Mary and Joseph in the Temple (Lk 2:22-39), in accord with Mosaic Law concerning the first-born. At the Presentation, Simeon and Anna sum up the expectation of Israel for the long-awaited Messiah, the light of the nations and the glory of Israel, but also as a sign of contradiction. The presentation of the gifts, especially of bread and wine, is a preparatory rite for the liturgy of the Eucharist at Mass.

ROSARY: A prayer in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which repeats the privileged Marian prayer Ave Maria, or Hail Mary, in “decades” of ten prayers, each preceded by the Pater Noster (“Our Father”) and concluded by the Gloria Patri (Glory Be to the Father), accompanied by meditation on the mysteries of Christ’s life. The rosary was developed by medieval piety in the Latin church as a popular substitute for the liturgical prayer of the Hours.

VIRGIN BIRTH: The conception of Jesus in the womb of the Virgin Mary solely by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Church’s confession of faith in the virgin birth affirms that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit without human seed.

VIRGIN MARY: The mother of Jesus, who is honored as “ever-virgin” for her perpetual virginity.

VISITATION: At the annunciation, the angel Gabriel told Mary that she would be the mother of the savior. Gabriel also told Mary that her barren cousin, Elizabeth, had conceived a son in her old age. Mary went to visit her cousin and confirmed the truth of the angel’s words. The time she spent with Elizabeth is referred to as “the visitation.”

How to Pray the Rosary

The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium. It is an echo of the prayer of Mary, her perennial Magnificat for the work of the redemptive Incarnation which began in her virginal womb. With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love. Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer.
—From On the Most Holy Rosary (Rosarium Virginis Mariae)

How to Pray the Rosary

Prayer to End the Pandemic

Prayer before the recitation of the Rosary

At the beginning of the month dedicated to Our Lady, we unite in prayer with all the shrines across the world, with the faithful and all people of good will, to entrust into the hands of our Holy Mother all of humanity, sorely tried by this period of pandemic.

Each day of this month of May we will entrust to You, Mother of Mercy, the many people who have been touched by the virus and continue to suffer its consequences: from our deceased brothers and sisters to the families who are living the pain and uncertainty of tomorrow; from the sick to the doctors, scientists, nurses who are engaged on the front lines of this battle; from the volunteers to all the professionals who have rendered their precious service in favour of others; from the people in mourning and pain to those who, with a simple smile and a kind word, have brought comfort to those in need; from those — especially women — who have suffered violence within the walls of their homes due to forced closure, to those who wish to enthusiastically resume the rhythms of daily life.

Mother of Relief, welcome us under your mantle and protect us, sustain us in the hour of trial and enkindle in our hearts the light of hope for the future.


After reciting the Rosary, the Pontiff said a concluding prayer

Under your protection we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God. In the present dramatic situation, full of suffering and anguish that grips the entire world, we turn to you, Mother of God and our Mother, and seek refuge under your protection.

O Virgin Mary, turn your merciful eyes upon us in this coronavirus pandemic, and comfort those who are lost and weeping for their deceased loved ones,  sometimes buried in a way that wounds the soul.  Support those who are anguished over their sick because — so as to prevent contagion — they cannot be close to them. Instil confidence in those who are anxious about the uncertain future and the consequences for the economy and for work.

Mother of God and our Mother, implore for us from God, Father of Mercy, that this hard trial may end and that a horizon of hope and peace may return. As at Cana, you intervened with your divine Son, asking him to comfort the families of the sick and the victims, and to open their hearts to trust.

Protect the doctors, nurses, healthcare personnel and volunteers who in this time of emergency are on the front lines and put their lives at risk to save other lives. Accompany their heroic efforts and give them strength, goodness and health.

Be close to those who night and day assist the sick and to the priests who, with pastoral solicitude and evangelical commitment, seek to help and support everyone.

Holy Virgin, enlighten the minds of men and women of science so that they may find the right solutions to overcome this virus. Assist the leaders of nations so that they may work with wisdom, solicitude and generosity to help those who lack the necessities of life, planning social and economic solutions with foresight and a spirit of solidarity.

Most Holy Mary, touch consciences so that the enormous sums used to increase and perfect weapons may instead be used to promote adequate studies to prevent similar catastrophes in the future.

Beloved Mother, make the world grow in the sense of belonging to one great family, in the awareness of the bond that unites us all, so that with a spirit of brotherhood and solidarity we may come to the aid of the many poor and destitute situations. Encourage firmness of faith, perseverance in serving, constancy in praying.

O Mary, comforter of the afflicted, embrace all your afflicted children and obtain that God intervenes with his omnipotent hand to free us from this terrible epidemic, so that life may resume its normal course in serenity. We entrust ourselves to You, who shine on our path as a sign of salvation and hope.

O merciful, O pious, O sweet Virgin Mary, may you guide the steps of your pilgrims who wish to pray to you and love you in the shrines dedicated to you throughout the world, under the most varied titles that recall your intercession. May you be a sure guide for everyone. Amen.


L’Osservatore Romano, Weekly Edition in English, 7 May 2021