On Marian worship

I went to a Rosary crusade a couple of years ago, and something has bothered me ever since, so here is my question. If I brought a sincere Protestant friend to the crusade, and before that we had been in deep discussion about “Catholics worshipping statues”, and he saw a long string of 4th degree Knights carrying a statue of Mary around like it was a golden calf, what would I be able to tell him to convince him that neither Mary or the statue were being worshipped?

There’s a difference between veneration/love and worship.
She is not god.
Only God is God, and she is the most powerful intercessor for our prayers.


Ask him if he worships his Bible. He would probably tell you, that no, he doesn’t but he uses it as a guide for his faith. Likewise, Mary helps us through our faith, by leading to her son.


Would he think people worshipped the ark of the covenant?

Is Mary a Queen? If so how are queens treated are to be treated?

Didn’t Elizabeth - John the Baptist’s mother say something in Luke like…who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me? Or something…


Well I saw a guy who had a statue of Santa in his sleigh with his reindeerr sitting ontop of the mantle of the fireplace. It was made in China, to top it all off. Tell me that isn’t a household idol.

1 Like

Does the Protestant in question have a photo of his loved one, such as his wife, child, mom etc. on his dresser at home or desk at work? Does he love the photo itself, or is it just to remind him of the person that he loves?

If his loved one became known and loved to the whole city for some reason - let’s say his wife saved an entire block from a mad bomber but lost her life in the process - and the city had a memorial parade in her honor and made a big enlargement of her picture and had 10 uniformed guys from the National Guard escorting it down the street, and people were taking a knee or bowing or saying a prayer to God as the picture went by, would they be honoring the picture itself or honoring the memory of the late wife?

If this good Protestant further believed his wife was in Heaven and said, “Honey, I love you, please ask God to help me because I’m having trouble coping without you,” would he be worshipping his wife? How about if when the National Guard were carrying her picture past him, he dropped to his knees and said it and followed it up with an Our Father? Would he be worshipping his wife then?


The statue of Mary is sort of like the bronze serpent mounted on a pole which God ordered Moses to make to help people who had been bitten by serpents. It was a good and holy religious statue, a holy reminder for the people of God’s mercy and even an instrument of divine healing for those victims of serpent bites who looked upon it. (See Numbers 21) However, sometime later, it became the occasion of sin for the people when they lost sight of the religious statue’s true purpose and they started regarding it and treating it as a god in its own right, calling it Nehushtan and worshiping it by burning incense to it, making it into an idol. (See 2 Kings 18:4)

Thus, religious statues, such as statues of Mary, are permitted as long as they are not regarded and treated as gods in their own right. Simply carrying a religious statue in a procession does not make it an idol.

A statue of Mary is also sort of like the two cherubim statues atop the Ark of the Covenant that was routinely carried in procession. In fact, since Mary is regarded by Catholics as the living Ark of the New Covenant, because she carried within her womb the living Word of God in much the same way the Ark of the Covenant was used to carry the stone tablets inscribed with the words of God (the Ten Commandments), there is even more reason to carry her statues in procession.

1 Like

I wouldn’t bring my friend to a Fatima crusade until we had had discussions about the difference between veneration and worship, and what the saints are and are not. We would then have more discussions afterward.

Protestants have no context or vocabulary for understanding what we do and what we intend with regards to the saints.


How to love God biblically speaking: sacrifice and worship. The heart of worship is sacrifice. The heart of sacrifice is an altar. The mass is worship and we are to offer ourselves as a “living sacrifice” to God in the mass. Singing and praying are not worship, they are devotion.

Of course, there are many nuances to each non-Catholic denomination, though none have true worship which will be the first point. Evangelical Protestants do not have the mass and the priesthood, which re-presents Jesus’s sacrifice, so they think every Catholic devotion is worship. Their only way to worship is to pray and sing. Even their obedience they think is futile because it is either just a result of the fact that “they are saved” and/or is completely controlled by God.

Devotion is honor and the “end” is always God. If we live her it is because we wish to be obedient and repentant to Him.


I agree that one doesn’t just invite Protestants to any sort of Rosary crusade event.

From the wording of the original post, I get the impression this is not really about bringing a Protestant friend, it would seem to be more about the OP’s own doubts with how a particular form of devotion looks. Which is not really a problem for the people engaging in the devotion. Rosary Rallies and processions and the like are done by Catholics who wish to publicly venerate Mary and show this to the world, regardless of how the world is going to look at it. Those participating simply do not care what outsiders think, they are not in the least self-conscious or putting on a show for Protestants or anyone else. And I think that’s great.


You could ask him about the honor guard that carries the American flag. You could ask him if he has any pictures of his family in his wallet or any of their pictures in his house.

This is true. The Bible is the center of the Protestant faith, and yet it is a devotion. They know it isn’t God and yet, with all their devotion to it, one could possibly erroneously say they worshipped the Bible.

The saints, on the whole, are part of the body of Christ. All who are alive in Christ in heaven can offer prayers on our behalf at the throne of God as indicated in the book of Revelation. If we Catholics had had a devotion to Mary all these years and it was actually no help for us, it would be one thing. However, many miracles occur through her intercession. The apostles performed miracles but of course, we all know God is the power and grace behind such miracles. The “competition for Jesus” argument holds no water. In relation to what constitutes “actual worship” honor and devotion are completely different. Actual worship: obedience to God’s commands and sacrifice.

1 Like

Well that’s just silly. The Isrealites didn’t carry the golden calf, they built an altar in front of it.



The Blessed Mother is given a higher level of veneration than other saints — hyperdulia vs. dulia. Mary always points to Jesus. The most obvious example takes place at the wedding feast at Cana. When the waiters come to her, she says, “Do whatever he says.”

As for praying to saints, think about this. Do you ever ask friends to pray for you? Saints are friends in heaven.

Catholics bow to the tabernacle where consecrated hosts are held and to the altar.

Some people kneel before images of saints when they are making a special intention. But kneeling is a way of focusing on the prayer and the saint, just as you might look at a photo of a friend while remembering him/her.

As far as the statue itself it would be important to explain that the statue represents Mary, just as a photo of a loved one represents that loved one but is not the loved one. Just as we wouldn’t believe a photo of some one we love is that someone, we are not worshipping the statue. It is not any form of an idol. We know that it just represents Our Blessed Lady.

You may also ask them if they put a little statue of Mary in their nativity scene every year at Christmas and if so would that be considered an idol?

Then as someone else said the big thing a protestant will have a hard time understanding is what worship is. To protestants singing and clapping is worship, so when they would hear the Marian hymns they would see those as worship. You might ask them about some of the childrens songs they teach children such as, Father Abraham, Zaccheus and Peter and John Went to Pray. All songs about OT and NT saints. Ask them if those songs mean they are worshipping those saints. Then explain that the highest form of worship from OT to NT is sacrifice and for us it is the sacrifice of the Mass. Singing a song about someone or to someone does not mean we are worshipping them.

And as we do sing to and about our Blessed Mother we are honoring her just as Jesus honors her. Worship alone is reserved for God alone.

Absolutely perfect response!

1 Like


It was imprudent to ask a Protestant to an event that was celebrating a private revelation.

That is a field trip that needs much preparation.


By the same token, I would not invite the Protestant to parish to view the Altar during All Souls or the Virgin of Guadalupe Altar.

So I have a question… Aren’t the side altars just for celebration of mass privately by the priest? They are not actually altars “to Mary” or the saints. They are “adorned” with statues. Someone may know?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.