Ecumenical MariologyPatricia Rumsey

This article examines Martin Luther's attitude to Mary and his objections to Roman hyperdulia with regard to her.  It asks where this devotion to the Mother of God found its origin and how it had progressed through the centuries, and shows how Luther would probably have been satisfied with the teaching of Vatican II on Mary. Patricia Rumsey is Honorary Associate Professor at the University of Nottingham and Abbess of the Poor Clare community in Arkley, Hertfordshire.

'The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart'

We see from his sermons and his writings, especially his Commentary on the Magnificat, that throughout his life Martin Luther retained the early beliefs formed in his Catholic childhood, and from his days as an Augustinian monk concerning Mary, and he maintained a great regard for her. He wrote:

[S]he became the Mother of God, in which work so many and such great good things are bestowed on her as pass man's understanding. For on this there follows all honor, all blessedness, and her unique place in the whole of mankind, among which she has no equal, namely, that she had a child by the Father in heaven, and such a Child.... Hence men have crowded all her glory into a single word, calling her the Mother of God.... None can say of her nor announce to her greater things, even though he had as many tongues as the earth possesses flowers and blades of grass: the sky, stars and the sea, grains of sand. It needs to be pondered in the heart what it means to be the Mother of God.1

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