Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, also known as Marion Devotion, is deeply rooted in the Catholic faith; it is a sacred and loving reverence to Mary, the Blessed Mother of Jesus Christ and to her Immaculate Heart. Pope John Paul II is well known for propagating and restoring Marion devotions after a period of decline following Vatican II; he states “The Blessed Virgin is the perfect realization of the Church’s holiness and its model”. To fully understand this sacred devotion, it is important to understand the purpose of Mary’s life and her unique role in the history of Christianity.
Even before Mary’s birth to earthly life, God choose her to be a creature of holiness, to be born without original sin; her birth in this holy state is known as the Immaculate Conception. God created Mary to be the mother of his only son through the bodily manifestation of Christ Jesus. Mary’s life is one of humble devotion wrought with silent sorrows; she humbly endures at the side of her son through his crucifixion and death, bearing his pain and suffering as her own. Mary’s life and exemplitude draws Catholics closer to Jesus; her existence from the beginning is to bring Christ to mankind. It is for this reason that devotion to her and to her Immaculate Heart is so prominent in Catholicism; Mary intercedes for us and leads us to Jesus. St. Louis de Montfort writes in his classic book, Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, “Mary is a privileged means of reaching Jesus perfectly, loving him tenderly, and serving him faithfully”.
Marion devotion has many forms the Rosary, Holy Days of Obligation, dedication of the First Saturdays of each month, dedicated feast days, wearing of the Brown Scapular and prayers. The Holy Rosary is a contemplative meditation on the sacred mysteries of the lives of Mary and Jesus. Catholics celebrate the Immaculate Conception each year on December 8, one of three Holy Days of Obligation dedicated to Mary. The Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God is celebrated on January 1 each year. Mary’s assumption to heaven undefiled in body and soul is celebrated as the Assumption on August 15. The brown scapular, two squares of brown cloth joined by string, identifies the wearer as a devotee of Mary and guarantees Mary’s intercession in the event of death thus saving the wearer from Hell and Purgatory.
The Blessed Virgin Mary exemplifies faith, hope, and charity; she is the ultimate model of these holy virtues. Mary is born, lives, and dies in a state of holy purity. Her humble acceptance of the Annunciation by the angel Gabriel, establishes her as a classic example of acquiescence to God’s will. Mary teaches mankind to say “yes” to God. Catholic devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is so beautifully and simply stated in the prayer “Hail Holy Queen” Mary is “our life, our sweetness and our hope.”