Saturday, July 24, 2021

Early Marian Veneration

So, when did Marian veneration begin?

The earliest record we have of something approach Marian veneration is this:

Luke 11:27

And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked.

Jesus responded:

28 But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

I don't think this was a turn of phrase especially created for Mary, but presumably rather a general blessing of mothers for having offspring (particularly notable offspring).  Jesus turns it on its head later in Luke:

Luke 23:28-19 But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.

Jesus response of curbing excessive reverence of his mother is similarly illustrated in Matthew 12

Matthew 12:46-50

While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him.  Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.  But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?  And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!  For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

Notice the common theme in both Matthew and Luke of Jesus promoting a different priority.

Was there early veneration of Mary?  Undoubtedly there was.  We know of the sect of the Collyridians, for example, whose worship of Mary was condemned by orthodox Christians of the time.  Epiphanius of Salamis, writing in the late fourth century speaks of them, presumably as contemporaries to him.

Ultimately, though, it is sufficient that the practice lacks New Testament warrant or positive example.  

Sometimes it is alleged that this is because Mary was still living during the time when the New Testament was composed.  This should puzzle anyone who bought the argument that veneration of the dead is the same asking living people to pray for them.  It also presumes we know when Mary died, which we don't.  No one knows when she died.


Wilson said...

Have you ever seen the homily here as Albrecht's early (200s) account of prayer to Mary?

"Thou hast learned, O Mary, that which till now was hidden from angels. Thou hast known that which deaf prophets..."

I thought I read somewhere that Gregory invokes Nebuchadnezzar but I can't find it. If that's true than maybe it's not an invocation but a thinking out loud.

Desafíos Modernos a Una FE Antigua said...

The earliest record we have of something approach Marian veneration is this:
LC 1.28
Lucas 1:28
[28]Y entrando, le dijo: «Alégrate, llena de gracia, el Señor está contigo.»
And the second:
Lucas 1:28,42
[28]Y entrando, le dijo: «Alégrate, llena de gracia, el Señor está contigo.»

[42]y exclamando con gran voz, dijo: «Bendita tú entre las mujeres y bendito el fruto de tu seno;