Questo articolo è disponibile anche in: Italian English Spanish Portuguese


Good morning Reverend Father Angelo,

I am a priest and I found myself discussing a Mariological question, a discipline in which I am not specifically instructed.

Here is the point: can Mary be defined as Most Holy, given that the title “Most Holy” is reserved for the Most Holy Eucharist and the Most Holy Trinity?

It is true that the prayers and the documents of the Magisterium define her as such, but do you not find that it’s an overestimation of a humble and docile creature like the Most Blessed Virgin?

Thank you, yours sincerely.

Fr. Tiziano

Answer of the priest

Dear Father Tiziano,

1. It is true that Mary is venerated with the title of most holy.

It is the same title that is given to God.

However, there is an essential difference: God is most holy by nature.

Mary, on the other hand, is most holy by grace.

Furthermore, God’s holiness is uncreated and infinite. While that of Mary is created and, although most excellent, never equals that of God.

2. We should not be surprised by this title because we too are given a title that is peculiar to the second Person of the Most Holy Trinity and is peculiar to Christ: the Son of God.

But while Christ is the son of God by nature, we are sons of God by grace, by adoption.

3. St. Thomas, speaking of Mary’s holiness and dignity, says: “The Blessed Virgin from the fact that she is the mother of God (has) a certain infinite dignity from the infinite good, which is God. And on this account there cannot be anything better than these; just as there cannot be anything better than God” (S.Th., I, 25, 6, ad 4).

Note that he does not say “an infinite”, but “a certain infinite”.

4. The same language is found in the Speculum B.V.M., long attributed to St. Bonaventure: “The Mother of the Lord, the Virgin and Mother, is a most worthy mother. She is the Mother who is most becoming to such a Son. She is the Mother to whom such a Son is most becoming. She is the one, than whom God could make no greater. God could make a greater world, God could make a greater Heaven, but a greater mother than the Mother of God He could not make” (Speculum B.V.M., lib. X).

5. St. Thomas specifies that the Holy Virgin should not be given the worship of latria, which is exclusive to God; however, she is to be given at the same time a higher cult than that of all the saints.

“Since «latria» is due to God alone, it is not due to a creature so far as we venerate a creature for its own sake.

For though insensible creatures are not capable of being venerated for their own sake, yet the rational creature is capable of being venerated for its own sake.

Consequently the worship of «latria» is not due to any mere rational creature for its own sake.

Since, therefore, the Blessed Virgin is a mere rational creature, the worship of «latria» is not due to her, but only that of «dulia»: but in a higher degree than to other creatures, inasmuch as she is the Mother of God. For this reason we say that not any kind of «dulia» is due to her, but «hyperdulia».” (S.Th., III, 25, 5).

6. And shortly after he adds: “The honor due to the king’s mother is not equal to the honor which is due to the king: but is somewhat like it, by reason of a certain excellence on her part” (Ib., Ad 1).

And he quotes in this regard St. Augustine: “The seat of God, the chamber of our Lord, and the worthy tabernacle of Jesus Christ, ought to be there where he is” (Sermon of the Assumption).

Our Lady is the throne of God, the chamber of the Lord of heaven, the tabernacle of Christ. For this she ought to be given a similar honor.

7. Worship of Mary is given in a line that is superior to that of the saints.

The Second Vatican Council underscores the difference in grace between Our Lady and the other Saints: “The Virgin Mary (…) is endowed with the high office and dignity of being the Mother of the Son of God, by which account she is also the beloved daughter of the Father and the temple of the Holy Spirit. Because of this gift of sublime grace she far surpasses all creatures, both in heaven and on earth” (Lumen gentium, 53).

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about Our Lady and her incomparable holiness.

I remember you to the Lord and I wish you a fruitful ministry.

Father Angelo

Translated by Chiara P.