I'm Scared of Idolatory in the Church, After Seeing This?

Hello Everyone,

Yesterday at church, a while before the evening mass started, I saw an older woman walking up to the Statue of Mary, which was at the side of the altar> She began hugging the statue while also holding one of its extended hands, and began talking to it.

I guess she was praying. But why hug and hold the hands of a statue? And furthermore talk to the statue? I know of the the rosary, prayers, and intercessions that saints can do for us. But a statue is just a statue, not the actual thing.

A chill went down my back after seeing this, it’s like all those Idolatory claims that protestants use against the catholic church just showed up in my face, (At least it appeared to be that way to me).

Is this something normal or am I just overeacting? (I could be paranoid sometimes, but I do not think what I saw was right). Correct me if im wrong.

Please advise,

Do you honestly think that this pious woman thought this statue was literally Mary?

Idolatry is the worship of a false god. Mary is not a god, nor is she false, nor was the woman worshiping her; it is called veneration.

It may have been a bit over the top but this is not Idolatry. Idolatry is the worship of idols(eg statues) as gods. The Catholic church in no way condones such practice nor considers Mary or the Saints as gods. What you wittnessed was an example of what would be used as an attack on the church, out of context and without any reference to the churches position.

In the same manner, people venerate relics with a kiss. On Good Friday, we venerate the cross, yet we know full well that it is not the actual cross of crucifixion. It is to pay reverence externally with our devotion which is internal. I often kiss the cross on my rosary when I have finished praying.

Veneration in many cultures can take many forms that may seem unusual to others. Unless the individual had some cognitive issues, I would assume she knows the difference between a statue and the Virgin Mary.

I know that once we were concern in our household of a family member being injured in a car accident. When we learned he was spared, my mother grabbed the photograph on the shelf of that individual and hugged it. She knew the difference, but the emotion provoked teh action.

Read the life of St Gemma and be even more amazed.
The crucifix in the Oratory where she was praying became’alive’ and embraced her.

This old lady was not afraid of publicly showing her Faith. I respect her for that. Try it sometime…it takes great courage to look a fool in others’ eyes. Judge not…

I think you’re probably overreacting. The first thought that hit me was, when so many Catholics seem to have lost faith in the saints, such overt veneration at least balances the scale a little.

For Our Lady’s birthday and feast days, my children put our statue of Mary on our table for the day. They make her cards and place a bouquet of flowers in front of her statue. On her birthday, they sing “Happy Birthday” to her. Throughout they day, they will touch her hands, or say a quick prayer to her as they pass by the table.

My children are not in any way idolators. They do these things (that I have taught them) out of love and respect for the Mother of God. They certainly understand that it is a statue, but it is a statue of someone very dear to them. And, it is obvious the woman you saw in church feels the same way. We have no way of knowing what situations are occuring in her life. Perhaps she is carrying a cross she finds exceptionally hard to carry and is turning to Our Lady for help.

I would not judge her intentions, rather offer a prayer to Our Lady for her.

I would smile to witness this interaction, because with all the blasphemous acts committed against Our Lord, Our Lady and anything holy, these acts are rare.

Wehave a statue of Mary in the back of our church. Today after Mass, I said a short prayer and light a candle there. After I prayed I kissed my fingers then touched the hand of the statue. I know the statue is not Mary. I do not worship Mary in any case. I venerate her as the Mother of God. My action was just a pious gesture, mostly probably to make me feel better than because it will change God’s response to my prayer.

Supposedly if you were to look at a photo of your deceased mother and start to talk to her and hold the framed photo close to your heart, should we all likewise be concerned that you are confusing the photo with your mother?

Thanks for the replies everyone, I guess I might have overeacted then. I’m familiar with veneration, but I didn’t expect that it could be done in such a way. Thanks again.

I vote overreacting.

Maybe she was just having a bad day, or even a good day in a slew of bad days.

I think that there is a chance you were witness to someone who was overwhelmed with her devotion to the Blessed Mother and not afraid to show it. Some elderly people are so lonely that they can act out in ways that seem strange, by this I mean, she may have been greeting her beloved friend, Mary. A fews years ago I had a man paint at my house. One evening as he was leaving he asked me if I wanted to see a picture of his “girlfriend” and I said sure. When he opened his wallet to a picture of the Blessed Virgin I am sure my mouth dropped open. Different but wonderful.

You are not overreacting nor are you being paranoid…

What you witnessed is a single act by a single person…Whether what she did amounts to Idolatry I cannot say and neither can you since we do not know her heart.
That said…I agree that there are some that seem to go overboard in these areas…but it is not my place to judge them.

Your reaction to the event though shows that you personally are not in any danger of idolatry and this is a good thing…

I would suggest not being worried about it…


Kieron, take a look at the picture below. This practice of kissing icons to venerate them is common in the Orthodox Churches and some of the 22 sui juruis Churches in communion with Rome. Yet those doing it would do not confuse the image with the reality. It is unwise to judge the intentions of the heart purely from external appearances:-


Depending on the culture this behavior would be completely normal and even expected. You do recall that during the Easter Tridum the Cross is passed around and venerated in much the same way don’t you?

This sort of devotion is common and very traditional in Roman Catholicism and as such has led to charges of idolatry by protestants over the centuries.

Sounds very sweet. Besides, how do you know that Mary isn’t using that image to commune with the woman?

We have a ritual where we all process up and kiss the feet of Jesus on a Crucifix. We don’t think it’s really Him. I think this lady has a very special relationship with the Blessed Mother and this statue really represents Mary to her. It’s just her way.

Seriously? Haven’t you ever talked to a picture of a loved one? People talk “to” tombstones all the time when visiting cemetaries. Humans are multi-sensory beings. We use visual representations all the time to stand in for or symbolize other things. Unless you know for a fact that this woman believed the statue to be a god, nothing you described even sounds** close **to idolatry.

Her actions are no different than a deployed soldier kissing a photo of his wife and kids.

I wouldn’t say that you over-reacted unless you went up to the woman and started chastizing her. She probably is just very enthusiastic in her veneration of Mary. However, it isn’t too far out there to be concerned, in my opinion, because to other people it would appear that she is talking to a lifeless statue. It’s important to explain to those who are less informed in the faith that we believe we are talking to a real person who is heaven right now and not the physical substance of the image in front of them. I have to admit that when I was a small child, I did not equate the Mary statue with the Mother of God that lived a long time ago. I think eveyone just assumed it was obvious and no one explained to me why we talk to Mary’s statue. Therefore my less-than-five-year-old mind concocted an explaination that Mary used to be a girl but she was somehow turned into a statue and that’s why we talk to her. I used to feel sorry for her that she had to stand in the snow all winter in my grandmother’s garden. I was in the second grade before anyone took the time to set me straight.

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