Do Catholics Worship Mary?

by Matt Slick
3/31/2018, edited 2/7/2019

Mary worship Image Worship is an action that has both physical and spiritual aspects.  Let's define worship before we see if the Roman Catholic church advocates the worship of Mary

  • Worship: "in its most general sense is homage paid to a person or a thing. In this sense we may speak of hero-worship, worship of the emperor, of demons, of the angels, even of relics, and especially of the Cross.1
  • Worship: "The service of praise, adoration, thanksgiving, and petition directed toward God through actions and attitudes. Christian worship is Trinitarian in form as praise is offered to God through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit."2

Catholics attribute to Mary both physical (altars, bowing down, feasts, locations ) and spiritual (adoration, devotion to, entrust to, glory due to, looking to, prayer to, worship of) aspects of worship. But, God warns people not to fall into idolatry and false worship and to avoid such practices because they lead to sin.  Consider this verse from Isaiah.  Does it fit the Roman Catholic people?

  • “Then the Lord said, 'Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote,'” (Isaiah 29:13).  

The point is that Roman Catholics say they do not worship Mary, but they do the very things that are consistent with worship. In other words, they do everything consistent with the essence of worship while denying that they actually do it.

Let's take a look at the following table that illustrates the scriptural issues concerning worship and the pictorial representations as well as quotes in from Catholic sources. What do you think? what do you think? Does Catholicism promote the practice of worshiping Mary while denying that it is actually worship?

Adoration “I love You, O LORD, my strength.” 2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold,” (Psalm 18:1–2).  And, "Ascribe to the LORD, O sons of the mighty, Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. 2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due to His name; Worship the LORD in holy array,” (Psalm 29:1–2).  And, “O Lord, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Your praise,” (Psalm 51:15). Mary adoration image
Altars “and let us arise and go up to Bethel, and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone,” (Gen. 35:3).   Mary Alter of one of four Mary alter of 2 of four
Mary Alter of 3 of 4 Mary alter of 4 of 4
Bowing Down “When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him.  26 But Peter raised him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am just a man,” (Acts 10:25-26).   And, “Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship. 9 He said, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, O Lord, I pray, let the Lord go along in our midst, even though the people are so obstinate, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your own possession,” (Exodus 34:8–9).
See also, Rev. 22:8–9.
Bowing down to Mary  
Devotion to "And this I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is seemly, and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord," (1 Cor. 7:35, ). "All generations will call me blessed": "The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship." The Church rightly honors "the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of 'Mother of God,' to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs. . . . This very special devotion . . . differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration." The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an "epitome of the whole Gospel," express this devotion to the Virgin Mary," (CCC 971) 
Entrust to "Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right," (1 Pet. 4:19). "By entrusting ourselves to her prayer, we abandon ourselves to the will of God together with her: 'Thy will be done,' (CCC 2677).
Feasts "Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord," (Exodus 32:5). "The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an "epitome of the whole Gospel," express this devotion to the Virgin Mary," (CCC. 971). 
Glory due to "Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come before Him; Worship the LORD in holy array,” (1 Chron. 16:29).  

"We, therefore, who, though unworthy, hold the place of Vicar of Christ upon earth, shall never cease to promote the glory of so great a Mother, as long as life endures." (

Locations Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father,” (John 4:20–21).  
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico, 1531
  • Our Lady of Lourdes, France, 1858
  • Our Lady of Fatima, Portugal, 1916
  • Our Lady of Banneux, Belgium, 1933
  • Our Lady of Medjugorje, Bosnia, 1981
  • etc...
Look to "So our eyes look to the Lord our God, Until He shall be gracious to us," (Psalm 123:2). "After speaking of the Church, her origin, mission, and destiny, we can find no better way to conclude than by looking to Mary," (CCC 972).
Prayer to “Then I called upon the name of the LORD: 'O LORD, I beseech You, save my life!'" (Psalm 116:4).

“Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, 2 even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life,” (John 17:1–2).
"Let us turn in prayer to Mary, Mother of the Church and Mother of our faith. Mother, help our faith! Open our ears to hear God’s word and to recognize his voice and call..." (

"This twofold movement of prayer to Mary has found a privileged expression in the Ave Maria: Hail Mary [or Rejoice, Mary]: the greeting of the angel Gabriel opens this prayer..." (CCC 2676)
Worship of “You shall fear only the LORD your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name,” (Deut. 6:13).

“Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY,’”” (Matt. 4:10).  

Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy," (Rev. 19:10).
"...when she [Mary] is the subject of preaching and worship she prompts the faithful to come to her Son..." (Vatican Council II, p. 420, See documenation here.) 

“There are several degrees of this worship: ... 3) As the Blessed Virgin has a separate and absolutely supereminent rank among the saints, the worship paid to her is called hyperdulia (for the meaning and history of these terms see Suicer, Thesaurus ecclesiasticus, 1728).” (


I think it is obvious that the Roman Catholic Church advocates the worship of Mary. I also believe that their denial that it is truly worship is nothing more than lip service to cover their idolatry.

“Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote,” (Isaiah 29:13).  





  • 1.
  • 2. McKim, Donald K.. The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, Second Edition: Revised and Expanded (Kindle Locations 15488-15490). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.