Marian devotion before the 5th century was not as big as it is today. Today, Mary is almost as venerated as Jesus is himself, especially in Latin Americans countries. The early church held to the teaching Mary was ever virgin and bodily taken to heaven, when she died. But not all the church fathers believed Mary was born without sin. That teaching wasn’t declared til 1854.
I was recently discussing with my sister the importance of whether or not Mary was born without sin.
She told me that if it were possible for Mary to be born without sin, it would mean that it was not necessary for Jesus to be born and to die on the cross. It would mean that Jesus dies in vain, because Mary would be brought back to God. Paul states that there is only one mediator between god and man, Jesus Christ. While some use this to mean we shouldn’t pray through the intercession of saints, it actually means that only one man could reconcille man to God, only one man could open the gates of paradise to us. Mary being born without sin would mean that she did not have “the handwriting written against” her and that she could enter into paradise without Jesus.
Some state that she would have to be born sinless in order to bear a sinless child, however, that would mean that St Anna would have to be sinless to bear a sinless child and so it goes on.
As for the whole concept of Mary being immaculately conceived, this is what I was hold concerning the history behind it:
In that year, or before that, Mary appeared to someone, and the person asked her “who are you” (i believe). And Mary responded “i am the immaculate conception.” from this statement the doctrine was created. However, if this is an accurate story, it is quite possible, and more sensical that it was implying that she is the one who conceived immaculately, i.e she conceived jesus without sex = immaculate conception. However, it was interpreted by the Catholic Church that this meant that she was born without original sin
It is true Jerome stood strongly for the teaching Mary didn’t have other children besides Jesus, but not all the fathers held to that view within the church. Tertullian spoke against it. I personally feel Mary remained a virgin.
My church interprets the phrase “brother of Jesus” as a cousin not a brother as we understand the term today, or a son of Jospeh from a previous marriage.
But getting back to your question. Mary was not prayed to as she is today. Why? Because, up until the 14th century there was no “Hail Mary” Rosary recitals in 5 decades to recite. Rather then exclusive Marian prayers, the saints offered prayers to the saints “in general”, especially to the martyrs. They asked them to pray for the living. Marian devotion didn’t really take off until after the 7th century. There was one group that tried to make Mary a goddess so to speak. The church condemned the practice. Yet Marian devotion grew nevertheless.
The Marian apparitions of Fatima and Lourdes have only increased the fervor. So much so, people claim that they are seeing Mary from crying statues, in a slice of pizza. to cloud formations. But thankfully, the church does try to check all these stories out.
My church has always prayed through the intercession of the saints, but do not pray exclusively to the saints.
Please correct me if I’m wrong on anything I stated above about the Catholic church.
I’m interested to here everyone’s thought’s on the views I expressed above.