0 Why Protestants Don't Pray to Mary (A Brief History of Prayer to Mary)

 "Blessed art thou among women..."   -Luke 1:28

"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus;" -I Timothy 2:5

"Why don't Protestants pray to the Virgin Mary? (or even seek Mary's intercession on one's behalf?)

The easy, short answer is that it would not usually even occur to Protestants to do this, they not being taught to do so either in the New Testament or in their Churches (and in the back of their minds they may well be hearing the scripture verse: "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus;" -I Timothy 2:5). 

The question then turns around and presents itself as: "Why do the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches offer such prayer?"  ...and perhaps even more to the point, if such prayer is mentioned neither in the Gospels, nor in the Letters of the Apostles, when and how did this type of prayer enter into the history and practice of the Church?

We present the answer to all of the above questions by here posting below an excerpt from Philip Schaff's excellent eight-volume work, "History of the Christian Church" (Volume III, Nicene and Post-Nicene Christianity A.D. 311-390, P. 409-427). 

Published in 1866, and written for an audience of Protestant Seminary students, Doctoral candidates studying for the ministry, the author does not always use the softening of terms and tactful consideration that we of our own era might prefer or wish for, especially to a mixed-Christian-Communion general public audience as we have in the many tens of thousands of daily visitors to our website, and we apologize in advance if there be any offence caused by his use of certain outdated and insensitive terms and phrases, to give any offense certainly not being our intention, but only desiring to have a deeper look into our common Church History.

It should also be pointed out that the official teaching of both the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Communions is not to offer "worship" (Greek: "latreia") to Mary, which they agree with Protestants should only be offered to God alone, but rather "veneration" (as Philip Schaff himself makes clear further below in his text).  The official teaching of the Eastern Orthodox Church is also not to seek answers to prayer directly from Mary, but rather only to seek her intercession on one's behalf for one's prayers to God.  Protestants of course do not do even this.

§ 81. The Exaltation of the Virgin: Mariology.

(Sources:) Canisius (R.C.): De Maria Virgine libri quinque. Ingolst. 1577. Lamberertini (R.C.): Comment. dum De J. Christi, matrisque ejus festis. Patav. 1751. Perrone (R.C.): De Immaculata B. V. Mariae conceptu. Rom. 1848. (In defence of the new papal dogma of the sinless conception of Mary.) F. W. Genthe: Die Jungfrau Maria, ihre Evangelien u. ihre Wunder. Halle, 1852. Comp. also the elaborate article, "Maria, Mutter des Herrn," by Steitz, in Herzog’s Protest. Real-Encycl. (vol. ix. p. 74 ff.), and the article, "Maria, die heil. Jungfrau," by Reithmayr (R.C.) in Wetzer u. Welte’s Kathol. Kirchenlex. (vi. 835 ff.); also the Eirenicon-controversy between Pusey and J. H. Newman, 1866.

Into these festival cycles a multitude of subordinate feasts found their way, at the head of which stand the festivals of the holy Virgin Mary, honored as queen of the army of saints.

The worship of Mary was originally only a reflection of the worship of Christ, and the feasts of Mary were designed to contribute to the glorifying of Christ.  The system arose from the inner connection of the Virgin with the holy mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God; though certainly, with this leading religious and theological interest other motives combined. 

As mother of the Saviour of the world, the Virgin Mary unquestionably holds forever a peculiar position among all women, and in the history of redemption.  Even in heaven she must stand peculiarly near to Him whom on earth she bore nine months under her bosom, and whom she followed with true motherly care to the cross. 

It is perfectly natural, nay, essential, to sound religious feeling, to associate with Mary the fairest traits of maidenly and maternal character, and to revere her as the highest model of female purity, love, and piety.

From her example issues a silent blessing upon all generations, and her name and memory are, and ever will be, inseparable from the holiest mysteries and benefits of faith.  For this reason her name is even wrought into the Apostles’ Creed, in the simple and chaste words: "Conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary."

The Catholic church, however, both Latin and Greek, did not stop with this.  After the middle of the fourth century it overstepped the...Biblical limit, and transformed the "mother of the Lord" into a mother of God, the "humble handmaid of the Lord" into a queen of heaven, the "highly favored" into a dispenser of favors, the "blessed among women" into an intercessor above all women, nay, we may almost say, the redeemed daughter of fallen Adam, who is nowhere in Holy Scripture excepted from the universal sinfulness, into a sinlessly holy co-redeemer.

At first she was acquitted only of actual sin, afterward even of original; though the doctrine of the immaculate conception of the Virgin was long contested, and was not established as an article of faith in the Roman church till 1854.

Thus the veneration of Mary gradually degenerated into the worship of Mary; and this took so deep hold upon the popular religious life in the Middle Age, that, in spite of all scholastic distinctions between latria, and dulia, and hyrerdulia, Mariolatry practically prevailed over the worship of Christ.

Hence in the innumerable Madonnas of Catholic art the human mother is the principal figure, and the divine child accessory. The (Roman) devotions scarcely utter a Pater Noster without an Ave Maria, and turn even more frequently and naturally to the compassionate, tender-hearted mother for her intercessions, than to the eternal Son of God, thinking that in this indirect way the desired gift is more sure to be obtained.

To this day the worship of Mary is one of the principal points of separation between the Graeco-Roman Catholicism and Evangelical Protestantism.  It is one of the strongest expressions of the fundamental...error of unduly exalting the human factors or instruments of redemption, and obstructing, or rendering needless, the immediate access of believers to Christ, by thrusting in subordinate mediators.

...The popular religious want had accustomed itself even to female deities, and very naturally betook itself first of all to Mary, the highly favored and blessed mother of the divine-human Redeemer, as the worthiest object of adoration.

Let us trace now the main features in the historical development of the Catholic Mariology....

The New Testament contains no intimation of any worship or festival celebration of Mary. 

On the one hand, Mary, is rightly called by Elizabeth, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, "the mother of the Lord"—but nowhere "the mother of God," which is at least not entirely synonymous—and is saluted by her, as well as by the angel Gabriel, as "blessed among women;" nay, she herself prophesies in her inspired song, which has since resounded through all ages of the church, that "henceforth all generations shall call me blessed." 

Through all the youth of Jesus she appears as a devout virgin, full of childlike innocence, purity, and humility; and the few traces we have of her later life, especially the touching scene at the cross, confirm this impression. 

But, on the other hand, it is equally unquestionable, that she is nowhere in the New Testament excepted from the universal sinfulness and the universal need of redemption, and represented as immaculately holy, or as in any way an object of divine veneration.

On the contrary, true to the genuine female character, she modestly stands back throughout the gospel history, and in the Acts and the Epistles she is mentioned barely once, and then simply as the "mother of Jesus;" even her birth and her death are unknown.  Her glory fades in holy humility before the higher glory of her Son.

In truth, there are plain indications that the Lord, with prophetic reference to the future apotheosis of His mother according to the flesh, from the first gave warning against it.  At the wedding in Cana He administered to her, though leniently and respectfully, a rebuke for premature zeal mingled perhaps with maternal vanity.  On a subsequent occasion he put her on a level with other female disciples, and made the carnal consanguinity subordinate to the spiritual kinship of the doing of the will of God. 

The well-meant and in itself quite innocent benediction of an unknown woman upon His mother He did not indeed censure, but He corrected it with a benediction upon all who hear the word of God and keep it, and thus forestalled the deification of Mary by confining the ascription within the bounds of moderation.

In striking contrast with this healthful and sober representation of Mary in the canonical Gospels are the numerous apocryphal Gospels of the third and fourth centuries, which decorated the life of Mary with fantastic fables and wonders of every kind, and thus furnished a pseudo-historical foundation for an unscriptural Mariology and Mariolatry. 

The Catholic church, it is true, condemned this apocryphal literature so early as the Decrees of Gelasius; yet many of the fabulous elements of it—such as the names of the parents of Mary, Joachim (instead of Eli, as in Luke iii. 23) and Anna, the birth of Mary in a cave, her education in the temple, and her mock marriage with the aged Joseph—passed into the Catholic tradition.

The development of the orthodox Catholic Mariology and Mariolatry originated as early as the second century in an allegorical interpretation of the history of the fall, and in the assumption of an antithetic relation of Eve and Mary, according to which the mother of Christ occupies the same position in the history of redemption as the wife of Adam in the history of sin and death. 

This idea, so fruitful of many errors, is ingenious, but unscriptural, and an apocryphal substitute for the true Pauline doctrine of an antitypical parallel between the first and second Adam.  It tends to substitute Mary for Christ.  Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian, are the first who present Mary as the counterpart of Eve, as a "mother of all living" in the higher, spiritual sense, and teach that she became through her obedience the mediate or instrumental cause of the blessings of redemption to the human race, as Eve by her disobedience was the fountain of sin and death. 

Irenaeus calls her also the "advocate of the virgin Eve," which, at a later day, is understood in the sense of intercessor.  On this account this father stands as the oldest leading authority in the Catholic Mariology; though with only partial justice; for he was still widely removed from the notion of the sinlessness of Mary, and expressly declares the answer of Christ in John ii. 4, to be a reproof of her premature haste. 

In the same way Tertullian, Origen, Basil the Great, and even Chrysostom, with all their high estimate of the mother of our Lord, ascribe to her on one or two occasions (John ii. 3; Matt. xiii. 47) maternal vanity, also doubt and anxiety, and make this the sword (Luke ii. 35) which, under the cross, passed through her soul. 

In addition to this typological antithesis of Mary and Eve, the rise of monasticism supplied the development of Mariology a further motive in the enhanced estimate of virginity, without which no true holiness could be conceived.  Hence the virginity of Mary, which is unquestioned for the part of her life before the birth of Christ, came to be extended to her whole life, and her marriage with the aged Joseph to be regarded as a mere protectorate, and, therefore, only a nominal marriage.

The passage, Matt. i. 25, which, according to its obvious literal meaning (the e{w" and prwtovtoko"), seems to favor the opposite view, was overlooked or otherwise explained; and the brothers of Jesus, who appear fourteen or fifteen times in the gospel history and always in close connection with His mother, were regarded not as sons of Mary subsequently born, but either as sons of Joseph by a former marriage (the view of Epiphanius), or, agreeably to the wider Hebrew use of the term; as cousins of Jesus (Jerome). 

It was felt—and this feeling is shared by many devout Protestants—to be irreconcilable with her dignity and the dignity of Christ, that ordinary children should afterward proceed from the same womb out of which the Saviour of the world was born.  The name perpetua virgo, ajei; parqevno", was thenceforth a peculiar and inalienable predicate of Mary. 

After the fourth century it was taken not merely in a moral sense, but in the physical also, as meaning that Mary conceived and produced the Lord clauso utero.  This, of course, required the supposition of a miracle, like the passage of the risen Jesus through the closed doors. Mary, therefore, in the Catholic view, stands entirely alone in the history of the world in this respect, as in others: that she was a married virgin, a wife never touched by her husband.

Epiphanius, in his seventy-eighth Heresy, combats the advocates of the opposite view in Arabia toward the end of the fourth century (367), as heretics under the title of Antidikomarianites, opposers of the dignity of Mary, i.e., of her perpetual virginity.

But, on the other hand, he condemns, in the seventy-ninth Heresy, the contemporaneous sect of the Collyridians in Arabia, a set of fanatical women, who, as priestesses, rendered divine worship to Mary, and, perhaps in imitation of the worship of Ceres, offered little cakes (kollurivde") to her; he claims adoration for God and Christ alone. Jerome wrote, about 383, with indignation and bitterness against Helvidius and Jovinian, who, citing Scripture passages and earlier church teachers, like Tertullian, maintained that Mary bore children to Joseph after the birth of Christ.

He saw in this doctrine a desecration of the temple of the Holy Ghost, and he even compares Helvidius to Erostratus, the destroyer of the temple at Ephesus.  The bishop Bonosus of Sardica was condemned for the same view by the Illyrican bishops, and the Roman bishop Siricius approved the sentence, a.d. 392.

Augustine went a step farther.  In an incidental remark against Pelagius, he agreed with him in excepting Mary, "propter honorem Domini," from actual (but not from original) sin.  This exception he is willing to make from the sinfulness of the race, but no other.

He taught the sinless birth and life of Mary, but not her immaculate conception.  He no doubt assumed, as afterward Bernard of Clairvaux and Thomas Aquinas, a sanctificatio in utero, like that of Jeremiah (Jer. i. 5) and John the Baptist (Luke i. 15), whereby, as those two men were fitted for their prophetic office, she in a still higher degree was sanctified by a special operation of the Holy Ghost before her birth, and prepared to be a pure receptacle for the divine Logos.

The reasoning of Augustine backward from the holiness of Christ to the holiness of His mother was an important turn, which was afterward pursued to further results. The same reasoning leads as easily to the doctrine of the immaculate conception of Mary, though also, just as well, to a sinless mother of Mary herself, and thus upward to the beginning, of the race, to another Eve who never fell.

Augustine's opponent, Pelagius, with his monastic, ascetic idea of holiness and his superficial doctrine of sin, remarkably outstripped him on this point, ascribing to Mary perfect sinlessness.  But, it should be remembered, that his denial of original sin to all men, and his excepting of sundry saints of the Old Testament besides Mary, such as Abel, Enoch, Abraham, Isaac, Melchizedek, Samuel, Elijah, Daniel, from actual sin, so that pavnte" in Rom. v. 12, in his view, means only a majority, weaken the honor he thus appears to confer upon the mother of the Lord.  The Augustinian view long continued to prevail; but at last Pelagius won the victory on this point in the Roman church.

Notwithstanding this exalted representation of Mary, there appear no clear traces of a proper worship of Mary, as distinct from the worship of saints in general, until the Nestorian controversy of 430.  This dispute formed an important turning-point not only in Christology, but in Mariology also. 

The leading interest in it was, without doubt, the connection of the virgin with the mystery of the incarnation.  The perfect union of the divine and human natures seemed to demand that Mary might be called in some sense the mother of God, "theotokos", Deipara; for that which was born of her was not merely the man Jesus, but the God-Man Jesus Christ. 

The church, however, did, of course, not intend by that to assert that she was the mother of the uncreated divine essence—for this would be palpably absurd and blasphemous—nor that she herself was divine, but only that she was the human point of entrance or the mysterious channel for the eternal divine Logos.

Athanasius and the Alexandrian church teachers of the Nicene age, who pressed the unity of the divine and the human in Christ to the verge of monophysitism, had already used this expression frequently and without scruple, and Gregory Nazianzen even declares every one impious who denies its validity.  Nestorius, on the contrary, and the Antiochian school, who were more devoted to the distinction of the two natures in Christ, took offence at the predicate "theotokos", saw in it a relapse into the heathen mythology, if not a blasphemy against the eternal and unchangeable Godhead, and preferred the expression "Cristotokos", mater Christi.  Upon this broke out the violent controversy between him and the bishop Cyril of Alexandria, which ended in the condemnation of Nestorianism at Ephesus in 431.

Thenceforth the "theotokos" was a test of orthodox Christology, and the rejection of it amounted to the beginning or the end of all heresy.  The overthrow of Nestorianism was at the same time the victory of Mary-worship.  With the honor of the Son, the honor also of the Mother was secured.

The opponents of Nestorius, especially Proclus, his successor in Constantinople († 447), and Cyril of Alexandria († 444), could scarcely find predicates enough to express the transcendent glory of the mother of God.  She was the crown of virginity, the indestructible temple of God, the dwelling place of the Holy Trinity, the paradise of the second Adam, the bridge from God to man, the loom of the incarnation, the sceptre of orthodoxy; through her the Trinity is glorified and adored, the devil and demons are put to flight, the nations converted, and the fallen creature raised to heaven.  The people were all on the side of the Ephesian decision, and gave vent to their joy in boundless enthusiasm, amidst bonfires, processions, and illuminations.

 With this the worship of Mary, the mother of God, the queen of heaven, seemed to be solemnly established for all time.  But soon a reaction appeared in favor of Nestorianism, and the church found it necessary to condemn the opposite extreme of Eutychianism or Monophysitism.

This was the office of the council of Chalcedon in 451: to give expression to the element of truth in Nestorianism, the duality of nature in the one divine-human person of Christ.  Nevertheless the "theotokos" was expressly retained, though it originated in a rather monophysite view.

 § 82. Mariolatry.

Thus much respecting the doctrine of Mary.  Now the corresponding practice.  From this Mariology follows Mariolatry.  If Mary is, in the strict sense of the word, the mother of God, it seems to follow as a logical consequence, that she herself is divine, and therefore an object of divine worship. 

This was not, indeed, the meaning and purpose of the ancient church; as, in fact, it never asserted that Mary was the mother of the essential, eternal divinity of the Logos.  She was, and continues to be, a created being, a human mother, even according to the Roman and Greek doctrine.

But according to the once prevailing conception of her peculiar relation to deity, a certain degree of divine homage to Mary, and some invocation of her powerful intercession with God, seemed unavoidable, and soon became a universal practice.

The first instance of the formal invocation of Mary occurs in the prayers of Ephraim Syrus († 379), addressed to Mary and the saints, and attributed by the tradition of the Syrian church, though perhaps in part incorrectly, to that author.

The first more certain example appears in Gregory Nazianzen († 389), who, in his eulogy on Cyprian, relates of Justina that she besought the Virgin Mary to protect her threatened virginity, and at the same time disfigured her beauty by ascetic self-tortures, and thus fortunately escaped the amours of a youthful lover (Cyprian before his conversion). 

But, on the other hand, the numerous writings of Athanasius, Basil, Chrysostom, and Augustine, furnish no example of an invocation of Mary.

Epiphanius even condemned the adoration of Mary, and calls the practice of making offerings to her by the Collyridian women, blasphemous and dangerous to the soul.  The entire silence of history respecting the worship of the Virgin down to the end of the fourth century, proves clearly that it was foreign to the original spirit of Christianity, and belongs among the many innovations of the post-Nicene age.

In the beginning of the fifth century, however, the worship of saints appeared in full bloom, and then Mary, by reason of her singular relation to the Lord, was soon placed at the head, as the most blessed queen of the heavenly host.

To her was accorded the hyperdulia (uJperdouleiva)—to anticipate here the later scholastic distinction sanctioned by the council of Trent—that is, the highest degree of veneration, in distinction from mere dulia (douleiva), which belongs to all saints and angels, and from latria (latreiva), which, properly speaking, is due to God alone.

From that time numerous churches and altars were dedicated to the holy Mother of God, the perpetual Virgin; among them also the church at Ephesus in which the anti-Nestorian council of 431 had sat.

Justinian I., in a law, implored her intercession with God for the restoration of the Roman empire, and on the dedication of the costly altar of the church of St. Sophia he expected all blessings for church and empire from her powerful prayers.

His general, Narses, like the knights in the Middle Age, was unwilling to go into battle till he had secured her protection.  Pope Boniface IV. in 608 turned the Pantheon in Rome into a temple of Mary ad martyres: the pagan Olympus into a Christian heaven of gods.

Subsequently even her images (made after an original pretending to have come from Luke) were divinely worshipped, and, in the prolific legends of the superstitious Middle Age, performed countless miracles, before some of which the miracles of the gospel history grow dim. 

She became almost coördinate with Christ, a joint redeemer, invested with most of His own attributes and acts of grace. The popular belief ascribed to her, as to Christ, a sinless conception, a sinless birth, resurrection and ascension to heaven, and a participation of all power in heaven and on earth.

She became the centre of devotion, cultus, and art, the popular symbol of power, of glory, and of the final victory of catholicism over all heresies.  The Greek and Roman churches vied throughout the Middle Age (and do so still) in the apotheosis of the human mother with the divine-human child Jesus in her arms, till the Reformation freed a large part of Latin Christendom from this unscriptural semi-idolatry and concentrated the affection and adoration of believers upon the crucified and risen Saviour of the world, the only Mediator between God and man.

A word more: respecting the favorite prayer to Mary, the angelic greeting, or the Ave Maria, which in the Catholic devotion runs parallel to the Pater Noster.  It takes its name from the initial words of the salutation of Gabriel to the holy Virgin at the annunciation of the birth of Christ.  It consists of three parts:

(1) The salutation of the angel (Luke i. 28):
Ave Maria, gratiae plena, Dominus tecum!

(2) The words of Elizabeth (Luke i. 42):
Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus.

(3) The later unscriptural addition, which contains the prayer proper...Sancta Maria, mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis.  Amen.

Formerly this third part, which gave the formula the character of a prayer, was traced back to the anti-Nestorian council of Ephesus in 431, which sanctioned the expression mater Dei, or Dei genitrix ("theotokos"). 

But Roman archaeologists now concede that it is a much later addition, made in the beginning of the sixteenth century (1508), and that the closing words, nunc et in hora mortis, were added even after that time by the Franciscans. 

But even the first two parts did not come into general use as a standing formula of prayer until the thirteenth century.  From that date the Ave Maria stands in the Roman church upon a level with the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles’ Creed, and with them forms the basis of the rosary.

 § 83. The Festivals of Mary.

This mythical and fantastic, and, we must add, almost pagan and idolatrous Mariology impressed itself on the public cultus in a series of festivals, celebrating the most important facts and fictions of the life of the Virgin, and in some degree running parallel with the festivals of the birth, resurrection, and ascension of Christ.

1. The Annunciation of Mary commemorates the announcement of the birth of Christ by the archangel Gabriel, and at the same time the conception of Christ; for in the view of the ancient church Mary conceived the Logos (Verbum) through the ear by the word of the angel.

Hence the festival had its place on the 25th of March, exactly nine months before Christmas; though in some parts of the church, as Spain and Milan, it was celebrated in December, till the Roman practice conquered.  The first trace of it occurs in Proclus, the opponent and successor of Nestorius in Constantinople after 430; then it appears more plainly in several councils and homilies of the seventh century.

2. The Purification of Mary or Candlemas, in memory of the ceremonial purification of the Virgin, forty days after the birth of Jesus, therefore on the 2d of February (reckoning from the 25th of December); and at the same time in memory of the presentation of Jesus in the temple and his meeting of Simeon and Anna. 

This, like the preceding, was thus originally as much a festival of Christ as of Mary, especially in the Greek church.  It is supposed to have been introduced by Pope Gelasius in 494, though by some said not to have arisen till 542 under Justinian I., in consequence of a great earthquake and a destructive pestilence.

Perhaps it was a Christian transformation of the old Roman lustrations or expiatory sacrifices (Februa, Februalia), which from the time of Numa took place in February, the month of purification or expiation.  To heathen origin is due also the use of lighted tapers, with which the people on this festival marched, singing, out of the church through the city.  Hence the name Candlemas.

3. The Ascension, or Assumption rather, of Mary is celebrated on the 15th of August. The festival was introduced by the Greek emperor Mauritius (582–602); some say, under Pope Gelasius († 496).  In Rome, after the ninth century, it is one of the principal feasts, and, like the others, is distinguished with vigil and octave.

It rests, however, on a purely apocryphal foundation.

The entire silence of the apostles and the primitive church teachers respecting the departure of Mary stirred idle curiosity to all sorts of inventions, until a translation like Enoch’s and Elijah's was attributed to her.

In the time of Origen some were inferring from Luke ii. 35, that she had suffered martyrdom.  Epiphanius will not decide whether she died and was buried, or not.  Two apocryphal Greek writings de transitu Mariae, of the end of the fourth or beginning of the fifth century, and afterward pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite and Gregory of Tours († 595), for the first time contain the legend that the soul of the mother of God was transported to the heavenly paradise by Christ and His angels in presence of all the apostles, and on the following morning her body also was translated thither on a cloud and there united with the soul.

Subsequently the legend was still further embellished, and, besides the apostles, the angels and patriarchs also, even Adam and Eve, were made witnesses of the wonderful spectacle.

Still the resurrection and ascension of Mary are in the Roman church only a matter of "devout and probable opinion," not an article of faith; and a distinction is made between the ascensio of Christ (by virtue of His divine nature) and the assumptio of Mary (by the power of grace and merit).

But since Mary, according to the most recent Roman dogma, was free even from original sin, and since death is a consequence of sin, it should strictly follow that she did not die at all, and rise again, but, like Enoch and Elijah, was carried alive to heaven. *

In the Middle Age—to anticipate briefly—yet other festivals of Mary arose: the Nativity of Mary, after a.d. 650; the Presentation of Mary, after the ninth century, founded on the apocryphal tradition of the eleven years’ ascetic discipline of Mary in the temple at Jerusalem; the Visitation of Mary in memory of her visit to Elizabeth; a festival first mentioned in France in 1247, and limited to the western church; and the festival of the Immaculate Conception, which arose with the doctrine of the sinless conception of Mary, and is interwoven with the history of that dogma down to its official and final promulgation by Pope Pius IX. in 1854. **

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* Note: Philip Schaff wrote this in the 1800's.  On November 1, 1950 the doctrine of the resurrection and ascension of Mary was dogmatically and infallibly defined by Pope Pius XII in his Apostolic Constitution: Munificentissimus Deus.  According to Roman Catholic theology, the Virgin Mary, was transported into Heaven with her body and soul united.  The feast day recognizing Mary's passage into Heaven is celebrated as The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

The Eastern Orthodox Communions teach that the Virgin Mary died a natural death and three days later was Resurrected and taken up into Heaven. 

All Protestants reject this Doctrine.

** Note: The Doctrine of "The Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary", is rejected by all of the Eastern Orthodox Communions, as well as by all Protestants.
Addenda: Some Additional reasons (besides I Timothy 2:5) why Protestants don't pray to Christians now in Heaven (the Saints, including Mary) or even ask them to intercede on their behalf:
  • God does not tell us in His Word (the Holy Scriptures) to do so.
  • Protestants don't see any evidence in the Bible that believers who are now in Heaven can even hear us.
  • The Apostles in the New Testament never teach that Christians should pray to Mary, or even ask her to intercede for us., nor do even the Church Fathers do so during nearly the entire first 400 years of the Christian Faith
  • There is no recorded example of anyone asking for Mary's intercession until the late 4th century---possibly as early as 379 A.D. (by Ephraim the Syrian, however this is disputed) but definitely in 389 A.D. (when Gregory of Nyssa in his writings mentions, not himself, but only someone named Justina doing so.)  The numerous writings of some of the most important Church Fathers: John Chrysostom, Athanasius, Augustine, and Basil the Great, furnish no example of an invocation of Mary.  (Excerpted from: "History of the Christian Church" by Philip Schaff: Volume III, Nicene and Post-Nicene Christianity, A.D. 311-390 Chapter VII, P. 409-427).  For more details on this, see: Why Protestants Don't Pray to Mary).
  • Why pray to someone who wouldn't seem to even know who you are, instead of to God the Father Himself and in Christ's name ("For God so loved the world...and Christ, who you know loved you enough to actually die for you)? 
  • Can the Saints (including Mary) hear millions of prayers simultaneously?  Are they omniscient like God?  There is no Biblical teaching to support these contentions, or any other related arguments that have so far been put forward.
  • And perhaps most importantly: Protestants don't want to disobey Christ's own clear teaching on how Christians should pray.

Protestants don't want to disobey Christ's own clear teaching on how Christians should pray:

When the disciples (who would later become the apostles) asked the Lord Jesus to teach them how to pray, Christ taught them (and all Christians) to pray our prayers to God the Father:

Christ taught us to Pray to God the Father...

"In this manner therefore pray: Our Father, who art in Heaven..." -Matthew 4:6

...in His (Christ's) Name...

Later Christ clarified his teaching to pray to God the Father by saying that we should do so in His (Christ's own) Name---

"...I go unto my Father.  And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.  If ye love me, keep my commandments."  -John 14:12-15

...Christ Himself being our only mediator...

"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus;" -I Timothy 2:5


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