Why Pray to Mary?

May 05, 2008 / Written by: Walter T. Camier

Many books and articles have been written over the years about the importance of the devotion to the Blessed Mother and of her importance in Sacred Scripture. However, many still ask, “Why pray to Mary?” This brings to mind a conversation I once had with my childhood friend John, whom I had not seen for many years since we graduated from high school.

John was Catholic, but during our conversation he informed me he did not believe in organized religion anymore. He just reads the Bible and he claims this was sufficient to understand Jesus. What shocked me the most was when he added that he never really understood why Catholics pray to Mary. “The Bible says nothing about this,” he said.

As he was speaking, many thoughts crossed my mind as to what to say to him. As a Catholic he must have been taught the importance of the Blessed Mother’s role in the Church, in Scripture and why it is important to pray to her.

Mary and Elizabeth
Upon hearing Saint Elizabeth’s praise, Our Lady’s immediate response was to praise God and recognize His blessings upon her. Detail from Mary and Elizabeth by Carl Bloch.

He had always been a practical person so, I decided to adopt a logical, practical approach. Since he claimed to read Scripture, I said, “John, you read the Bible, so let me try to explain this to you by using some of the texts from Scripture. In Luke 1:41-48, it says that after Elizabeth’s greeting to Mary, the baby leaped in Elizabeth’s womb, and she cried out with a loud voice, ‘Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.’ Also, ‘And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?’ Now, notice the first part of Mary’s reply to this question, ‘My soul doth magnify the Lord: And my spirit hath rejoiced in God, my Saviour.’”

I only wanted him to reflect on this part of the reply from Our Lady, “My soul doth magnify the Lord.” He looked at me confused, probably wondering why I was only concerned with this part of the text. I asked, “What does the word magnify mean?” He looked at me sarcastically, but before he could reply, I explained, “When you magnify an object you see things in that object much more clearly than you normally would, right? For example, when someone looks at a diamond they see the colorful sparkle that emanates from it, and they marvel at its beauty. But when it is magnified we see that which was not visible before. We see more clearly all the facets that make the diamond shine with such brilliance. Now this analogy can be used to describe how Mary works with us, because when we pray to her, she keeps nothing for herself. Instead she magnifies for us the many different facets of God, allowing us to tap into her heart, and understand in a much more profound way the life of her Divine Son.”

Of course, when I was younger, I did not know that the meaning of magnify in Our Lady’s canticle is to exalt, to praise highly, but the argument is valid. Saint Elizabeth praised Our Lady and in her humility she immediately transferred the praise to God, her Divine Son.

Our Lady magnifies for us the many different facets of God, allowing us to tap into her heart, and understand in a much more profound way the life of her Divine Son.

John replied, “How can you be so certain of that?” Before I could answer his question, he shouted impatiently, “What about John’s Gospel when Jesus turns the water into wine, and he calls Mary ‘woman’? That proves to me that she was an ordinary person just like you and me.” Answering him, I said, “John, you can’t read Scripture in such a superficial way. The Wedding Feast at Cana is a perfect example of how Mary intercedes for us with her Son. In that part of Saint John’s Gospel, you can clearly see that Mary is concerned about the bride and groom’s sorrow because the wine has failed. Who else noticed this? This is symbolic of how she watches over each one of us. Then turning she looks to her Son and says, ‘They have no wine,’ already interceding with her Son for their concerns. And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what is that to Me and to thee? [M]y hour is not yet come.’”

“Several points can be said about this part of the text. First, in Our Lord’s time it was the custom to use the word woman to express respect or solemnity. For instance, in the most solemn occasion of His life, when Jesus was dying on the cross, He also used the word woman to refer to His mother, ‘When Jesus, therefore, saw His mother, and the disciple standing, whom He loved, He saith to His mother; Woman, behold thy Son.’ 1 Second, Our Lord used that word woman so all men would understand that she was the woman God the Father referred to in Genesis: the woman that God raised up to ‘crush the head of the serpent.’ 2

Wedding at Cana
When the wine ran out at the wedding feast, Our Lord honored His Mother’s request by turning water into the best of wines. Detail from Marriage at Cana by Carl Bloch.

“Now, listen to the rest of the reply from Our Lord at the Wedding Feast at Cana, ‘Woman, what is that to Me and to thee? My hour is not yet come.’ These words signify that Our Lord and His Mother had a profound and unique understanding between them about the mission on which He was about to embark on for mankind’s salvation. It is also through His Mother’s intercession that Our Lord performs His first public miracle, the changing of water into wine. The chief steward at the wedding feast describes this wine as the better wine, which should have been served first. He said to the groom, ‘Every man at first setteth forth good wine, and when the men have well drunk, then that which is worse: But thou hast kept the good wine until now.’ 3 From this, you can clearly see that not only does Our Lord grant all His Mother’s requests, but He gives them the best in order to please her.”

By now it was sad to see that John was getting very upset with these conclusions about the importance of Mary in the Scriptures, and why it is necessary to pray to her. He smiled, and without any reply said, “Well it was nice seeing you again after all these years, but I really must be going.” He had no real answer to give because if he did, I’m sure he would have said something. Confused because of his lack of response to my explanations, I watched him walk away.

However, as quickly as my confusion came, it left and a tremendous calm overwhelmed me. A thought came to my mind, “What a consolation it is from God to have devotion to Our Lady.” It was like touching on one of the “Secrets of Mary.” Saint Louis de Montfort’s words from his book, True Devotion to Mary came to my mind. He wrote...

"If God willed His Son to come into the world through Mary, it is only proper we go to Him through Mary!"

Taken from the Crusade Magazine - May/June 2008


  • 1 John 19:26.
  • 2 Gen. 3:15.
  • 3 John 2:10.