In a new book interview on the Hail Mary prayer with Don Marco Pozza, chaplain of the prison of Padua, Pope Francis controversially claims that the Blessed Virgin Mary was not “full of virtue”, and that she was just a “normal girl” who “worked” and “went shopping.”
Not “full of intellect” nor “full of virtue”?
In the book, published by Rizzoli and the Libreria Editrice Vaticana, the Pope gave his interpretation of the Annunciation scene and explained what he thinks the archangel Gabriel told Our Lady at the moment of the annunciation:
“The angel does not say to Mary: “You are full of intellect, you are intelligent, you are full of virtue, you are an super-good woman”. No, he said, “You are full of graceˮ, that is, of gratuitousness, of beauty. Our Lady is the beauty par excellence. Beauty is one of the human dimensions that we too often neglect. We speak of truth, of goodness and leave beauty aside. Instead, it is as important as the others. It is important to find God in beauty”.
Let’s study carefully what the Pope just said in the above paragraph. First, he says that the archangel Gabriel did NOT say to Mary that she was “full of intellect”, that she was “intelligent”. Is the Pope suggesting that the Blessed Virgin Mary wasn’t intelligent? There is no other way to explain this. The statement “John did not say to Joe that he is intelligent”, is essentially identical to either “It is not sure if John considers Joe intelligent” or “John considers Joe dumb or stupid.”
Second, the Pope said that the archangel Gabriel did not say to Mary that she was “full of virtue”, or that she was a “super-good woman.” But doesn’t “full of grace” mean that Mary was “full of virtue”? This statement by the Pope contradicts the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Mary isn’t just a “super-good woman”. She is the Immaculate Conception, full of grace, exempt from the stains of original sin. It will be useful here to recall the exact declaration of Pope Pius IX in 1854 on the dogma of the Immaculate Conception:
We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of the Omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and therefore should firmly and constantly be believed by all the faithful. — Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, December 8, 1854
Contrary to what the Pope says, Mary is full of grace, Mary is full of virtue. She is the Immaculate Conception.
Just a “normal girl” who “went shopping”?
The Pope also said in the book interview that Mary was just a “normal girl” who “worked” and “went shopping”:
“I imagine her as a normal girl, a girl of today, open to getting married, to having a family… Mary is normal, she is a woman that any woman in this world can imitate. No strange things in life, a normal mother: even in her virginal marriage, chaste in that frame of virginity, Mary was normal. She worked, went shopping, helped her Son, helped her husband: normal”.
Mary is the Immaculate Conception, the Mother of God, Queen of the Universe, Mediatrix of All Graces. She is far from “normal”! There is nothing normal about being conceived without original sin – unlike the rest of “normal” people, she was exempt from the stains of original sin.
There is nothing “normal” about being the Virgin Mother of God – unlike other mothers who were mothers of mortal children, Mary was Mother of the Incarnate God Himself.
There is nothing “normal” about being the Spouse of the Holy Spirit – unlike normal women who are spouses of mortal men.
To emphasise the “normalness” of Mary would be to give a very, very low estimation of the dignity that the Most Holy Trinity has given her. There is nothing normal about being the Immaculate Daughter of God the Father, the Mother of the Incarnate Son, and the Spouse of the Holy Spirit!
It will be useful at this point to recall the many beautiful words that some of the greatest saints in Church history have said about the Blessed Mother. May we reflect on their words, and offer a prayer of reparation for the lack of respect shown to Mary by people who do not honour her as they should:
St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori:
‘Mary having co-operated in our redemption with so much glory to God and so much love for us, Our Lord ordained that no one shall obtain salvation except through her intercession.”
“To give worthy praise to the Lord’s mercy, we unite ourselves with Your Immaculate Mother, for then our hymn will be more pleasing to You, because She is chosen from among men and angels. Through Her, as through a pure crystal, Your mercy was passed on to us. Through Her, man became pleasing to God; Through Her, streams of grace flowed down upon us.” (1746)
St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori:
‘After the love which we owe Jesus Christ, we must give the chief place in our heart to the love of His Mother Mary.’
Saint Ildephonsus, Bishop:
“With reason did the Most Holy Virgin predict that all generations would call her blessed, for all the Elect obtain eternal salvation through the means of Mary.”
Saint John Damascene
“Devotion to you, O Blessed Virgin, is a means of salvation which God gives to those whom he wishes to save.”
Saint Germanus of Constantinople, Patriarch of Constantinople:
”There is no one, O Most Holy Mary, who can know God except through thee; no one who can be saved or redeemed but through thee, O Mother of God; no one who can be delivered from dangers but through thee, O Virgin Mother; no one who obtains mercy but through thee, O Filled-With-All-Grace!”
Saint Anselm, Archbishop and Doctor of the Church
”It is impossible to save one’s soul without devotion to Mary and without her protection.”
Saint Cajetan, Founder of the Theatines
”We may seek graces, but shall never find them without the intercession of Mary.”
Saint Francis Borgia
”I have great doubts about the salvation of those who do not have special devotion to Mary.”
Saint Louis Marie de Montfort
“For God, having given her power over his only-begotten and natural Son, also gave her power over his adopted children – not only in what concerns their body – which would be of little account – but also in what concerns their soul.”
Saint Louis Marie de Montfort
“We must conclude that, being necessary to God by a necessity which is called “hypothetical”, (that is, because God so willed it), the Blessed Virgin is all the more necessary for men to attain their final end. Consequently we must not place devotion to her on the same level as devotion to the other saints as if it were merely something optional.”