Anonymous asked in Society & CultureReligion & Spirituality · 1 decade ago

Catholics and Protestants, did you know Martin Luther's deep Devotion to the Virgin Mary?

Despite the radicalism of early Protestantism toward many ancient Catholic "distinctives," Martin Luther was rather conservative in some of his doctrinal views, such as on baptismal regeneration, the Eucharist, and particularly the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Luther indeed was quite devoted to Our Lady, and retained most of the traditional Marian doctrines which were held then and now by the Catholic Church. This is often not well-documented in Protestant biographies of Luther and histories of the 16th century,

Along with virtually all important Protestant Founders (e.g., Calvin, Zwingli, Cranmer), Luther accepted the traditional belief in the perpetual virginity of Mary (Jesus had no blood brothers), and her status as the Theotokos (Mother of God).

Probably the most astonishing Marian belief of Luther is his acceptance of Mary's Immaculate Conception, which wasn't even definitively proclaimed as dogma by the Catholic Church until 1854.

Luther held to the idea and devotional practice of the veneration of Mary and expressed this on innumerable occasions with the most effusive language.

His attitude towards the use of the "Hail Mary" prayer (the first portion of the Rosary) is illustrative. In certain polemical utterances he appears to condemn its recitation altogether, but he is only forbidding a use of Marian devotions apart from heartfelt faith, as the following two citations make clear:

Whoever possesses a good (firm) faith, says the Hail Mary without danger! Whoever is weak in faith can utter no Hail Mary without danger to his salvation. (Sermon, March 11, 1523).

Our prayer should include the Mother of God.. .What the Hail Mary says is that all glory should be given to God, using these words: "Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus Christ. Amen!" You see that these words are not concerned with prayer but purely with giving praise and honor.. .We can use the Hail Mary as a meditation in which we recite what grace God has given her. Second, we should add a wish that everyone may know and respect her...He who has no faith is advised to refrain from saying the Hail Mary. (Personal Prayer Book, 1522).

His views of Mary as Mother of God and as ever-Virgin were identical to those in Catholicism, and his opinions on the Immaculate Conception, Mary's "Spiritual Motherhood" and the use of the "Hail Mary" were substantially the same. He didn't deny the Assumption (he certainly didn't hesitate to rail against doctrines he opposed!), and venerated Mary in a very touching fashion which, as far as it goes, is not at all contrary to Catholic piety.

Therefore, it can be stated without fear of contradiction that Luther's Mariology is very close to that of the Catholic Church today, far more than it is to the theology of modern-day Lutheranism. To the extent that this fact is dealt with at all by Protestants, it is usually explained as a "holdover" from the early Luther's late medieval Augustinian Catholic views ("everyone has their blind spots," etc.). But this will not do for those who are serious about consulting Luther in order to arrive at the true "Reformation heritage" and the roots of an authentic Protestantism. For if Luther's views here can be so easily rationalized away, how can the Protestant know whether he is trustworthy relative to his other innovative doctrines such as extrinsic justification by faith alone and sola Scriptura?

It appears, once again, that the truth about important historical figures is almost invariably more complex than the "legends" and overly-simplistic generalizations which men often at the remove of centuries—create and accept uncritically.

32 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
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    There are a lot things about Martin Luther that the average Protestant doesn't know and probably wouldn't admit to, even if they did -- his love of the Blessed Virgin and his vicious anti-Semitism among them. Which makes the Protestant fear/hatred/mistrust of the Blessed Virgin even more ironic, considering how deeply devoted the founder of Protestantism was to her.

    Ah well, what can I say -- I gave up trying to understand how Protestants think and reason a long time ago.


    Speaking of our Protestant brothers and sisters in Christ, they're conspicuous by their absence. Gee, I wonder if that's because they might just have to rethink their approach to the Blessed Virgin in light of their founder's devotion to her?

    Nah -- that couldn't be it. Could it? ;-)

    Source(s): Amused Catholic convert
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  • 1 decade ago


    We might wonder why the Marian affirmations of the Reformers did not survive in the teaching of their heirs - particularly the Fundamentalists. This break with the past did not come through any new discovery or revelation. The Reformers themselves (see above) took a benign even positive view of Marian doctrine - although they did reject Marian mediation because of their rejection of all human mediation. Moreover, while there were some excesses in popular Marian piety, Marian doctrine as taught in the pre-Reformation era drew its inspiration from the witness of Scripture and was rooted in Christology. The real reason for the break with the past must be attributed to the iconoclastic passion of the followers of the Reformation and the consequences of some Reformation principles. Even more influential in the break with Mary was the influence of the Enlightenment Era which essentially questioned or denied the mysteries of faith.

    Unfortunately the Marian teachings and preachings of the Reformers have been "covered up" by their most zealous followers - with damaging theological and practical consequences. This "cover-up" can be detected even in Chosen by God: Mary in Evangelical Perspective, an Evangelical critique of Mariology. One of the contributors admits that "Most remarkable to modern Protestants is the Reformers' almost universal acceptance of Mary's continuing virginity, and their widespread reluctance to declare Mary a sinner". He then asks if it is "a favourable providence" that kept these Marian teachings of the Reformers from being "transmitted to the Protestant churches"!17

    What is interpreted as "Providence" by a Marian critic may legitimately be interpreted as a force of a very different kind by a Christian who has recognized the role of Mary in God’s plan.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Martin Luther also believed in Christ's presence in the Eucharist as well as in the Sacrament of Confession. He is given a lot more credit than he is due. All he did was plant the seed. He did not do much except translate the Bible into German, Sola Scriptura and Sola Feda. Other than that, he was a good Catholic. He did not want to leave the Church, he was planning to change it from the inside, but to to nationalism and other circumstances, he had to leave the Church.

    Source(s): Future Catholic
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  • 1 decade ago

    The following is a quote from that website !!!

    Prof. Paul's website is perhaps best known for its promotion of his Lutheran Rosary. Prof. Paul argues that Luther's attacks on the rosary were aimed at "the overuse and the misuse of the rosary rather than against the rosary itself", and that it is possible to have an Evangelical understanding of the rosary that avoids any question of its being a meritorious work.

    As part of his discussion on the rosary, Prof. Paul talks about the Ave Maria, the "Hail Mary" prayer. This was retained by Luther in the following form:

    Hail, Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus Christ. Amen.

    This is, Prof. Paul argues, "an excerpt from scripture (Luke 1:28, 42) and thus should find no objection from Lutherans today". It is "not ... a prayer or invocation but rather a giving of praise and honor to the Blessed Virgin Mary". The mistake medieval Christians made was to add requests to Mary that turned it into a prayer, such as the (in)famous words formalised at Trent in 1568:

    Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

    Luther urges that:

    ...we should make the Hail Mary neither a prayer nor an invocation because it is improper to interpret the words beyond what they mean in themselves and beyond the meaning given them by the Holy Spirit.

    Instead, Luther commends a twofold approach to the Ave Maria:

    First, we can use the Hail Mary as a meditation in which we recite what grace God has given her. Second, we should add a wish that everyone may know and respect her as one blessed by God.

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  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    St Mary is the no. 1 target in blasphemies in this YA. Since day one, we catholics have been evangelizing to new comers who is St Mary, the most misunderstood saint in the Catholic Church. Why would one belifies the mother of Jesus, as we all know that mothers are the strength behind our being a human. Same with Jesus, as His mother is his first apostle. St Mary and the other saints reigns with Christ; what an EYE OPENER. So catholics ask her and the other saints to intercede to God in our behalf, as what the BIBLE SAID. A] Rev 5:8-10 And when he had opened the book, the four living creatures and the four and twenty ancients fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. [The prayers of saints... Here we see that the saints in heaven offer up to Christ the prayers of the faithful upon earth. (CHALLONER) 10 And have made us to our God a kingdom and priests, and we shall reign on the earth. [B] REV 8:3-4 And another angel came and stood before the altar, having a golden censer: and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer of the prayers of all saints, upon the golden altar which is before the throne of God. 4 And the smoke of the incense of the prayers of the saints ascended up before God from the hand of the angel [C] Rev 20:4 Then I saw thrones; those who sat on them were entrusted with judgment. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image nor had accepted its mark on their foreheads or hands. They came to life and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 6 Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection. In these the second death has no power. But they shall be priests of God and of Christ: and shall reign with him a thousand years. guys, don't turn a blind eye on the above scriptures. Yes, St Mary is sinless just like David, Ezechia and Josias and St Stephen, full of grace. Ecclesiasticus 49:5. Except David, and Ezechias and Josias, all committed sin Eccl 47:13 The Lord took away his [david] sins, and exalted his horn for ever: and he gave him a covenant of the kingdom, and a throne of glory in Israel. Ezechiel 44:2 the womb of St Mary is Holy and closed as the Lord pass thru it. Ezechiel 44:2 And the Eternal says to me: This door will be closed, it will not open, and nobody will pass there; because the Eternal, God of Israel entered by there. It will remain closed

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  • 1 decade ago

    Most non-Lutheran Protestants don't give a fig what Luther thought about anything, so they wouldn't really have much to say about this, I don't imagine.

    The apparent silence of Lutherans on this matter might make more sense if you ask yourself what would happen if someone posted a question asking if people knew about Thomas Aquinas's devotion to Mary. I'm guessing that if you got many Catholic replies at all, they'd be mostly along the lines of, "Okay, what's your point?"

    The kinds of Lutherans who understand our heritage are not offended by Marian devotion in itself, but rather by its misuse and abuse, which we believe to be more widespread within Catholicism than most Catholics will admit. But our grave concern about certain abuses should not in any way be understood as revealing a lesser esteem for the Blessed Mother. Quite to the contrary, our profound love and respect for her compel us to reject such abuses as are committed in her name.

    Incidentally, next month, on August 19, we honor St. Bernard of Clairvaux, who played a leading role in the development of Marian piety. Lutherans love Mary.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Exactly, and how strange it appears that Protestants never seem to haul Luther over the coals for holding to the very same Marian devotion that Catholics still hold today.

    Then again Protestantism has went way to far down the line away from Luther`s initial premise that if he was resurrected today he would not even recognise his own schismatic movement, as it just continues to grow in an unstoppable spirit of criticism.

    God bless.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Luther and the tradition that sprang from his teachings always held Mary in high esteem.

    Luther dogmatically asserted what he considered firmly established biblical doctrines like the divine motherhood of Mary while adhering to pious opinions of her perpetual virginity and immaculate conception along with the caveat that all doctrine and piety should exalt and not diminish the person and work of Jesus Christ.

    The centerpiece of Luther's Marian views was his 1521 Commentary on the Magnificat in which he extolled the magnitude of God's grace toward Mary and her own legacy of Christian instruction and example demonstrated in her canticle of praise. Through 490 years this canticle has had an important place in Lutheran liturgy.

    His 1521 Commentary on the Magnificat ,Luther states in his Magnificat, that one should call on Mary, so God would give and do, through her will, what we ask.

    Quote from the father of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther:

    "She wishes to be the greatest example of God´s grace, so as to encourage all to confidence

    and praise of divine grace".

    "... she is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin.... God's grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil.... God is with her, meaning that all she did or left undone is divine and the action of God in her. Moreover, God guarded and protected her from all that might be hurtful to her."

    "... she is rightly called not only the mother of the man, but also the Mother of God.... it is certain that Mary is the Mother of the real and true God."

    "Christ our Savior was the real and natural fruit of Mary's virginal womb.... This was without the cooperation of a man, and she remained a virgin after that."

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  • 1 decade ago

    I have to admit, that I was looking at the question just as Anon said, "And???" Most of us are very much aware of this and have our own feelings on this. Thankfully, Luther and modern Lutherans do not see this as doctrine, but choice.

    Me, while I respect Luther's stance on Mary's perpetual virginity and being born without sin, I just can't buy into it. I do hold Mary in highest regard, as she was the mother of our Lord. To be chosen for that role does make her very special to us. And while this is my belief, there are many who believe the same. And there are probably just as many who do believe in the perpetual virginity and sinlessness.

    As for the Rosary that someone brought up, I do have some Greek worry beads. I finger them when I am anxious and will sometimes pray while holding them. It's a concentration and focus tool for me.

    Source(s): LCMS Lutheran
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  • 1 decade ago

    I'm involved in a lively debate about Catholic devotion to Mary in a Protestant group right now. At issue is intercessory prayer and adoration of the Blessed Virgin. I did the same thing you did, Robert, I looked up Luther's views on Mary and was surprised to find out how devoted he was to our Lady. I've posted several quotes from him, and have yet to see some responses. It amazes me that for all the flack and criticism we endure for our devotion to her, it turns out it is the modern Protestants who've turned their backs on historical Christianity, and even more curious, on their Protestant roots. Maybe a little Protestant education will get them back on track to returning home (to the Catholic Church)?

    God bless.

    Source(s): I am Catholic.
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