Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Worship of the Virgin Mary and of the Popes of Rome

At ROME, in almost every shop or dwelling is to be found an image of the blessed Virgin with an infant Saviour, before which the devout will seldom pass without saluting them with respect; and many a poor artisan would rather go to bed supperless, than not have wherewith to purchase oil for the lamp of his Madonna. ["Baron Geramb's Journey from La Trappe to Rom." p. 224.] During Christmas, the shrines and images of the Virgin are serenaded, generally by Calabrian peasants. Dr. Moore, in his "View of Society and Manners in Italy," has recorded an anecdote in reference to these serenades, which shows how readily adoration, through images, become direct image-worship. He says:—

"Here it is a popular opinion that the Virgin Mary is very fond, and an excellent judge, of music. I received this information on a Christmas morning, when I was looking at two poor Calabrian pipers, doing their utmost to please her and the infant in her arms. They played for a full hour to one of her images, which stands at the corner of a street. All the other statues of the Virgin, which are placed in the streets, are serenaded in the same manner every Christmas morning. On my inquiring into the meaning of the ceremony, I was told the above-mentioned circumstances of her character. My informant was a pilgrim, who stood listening with great devotion to the pipers. He told me, at the same time, that the Virgin's taste was too refined to have much satisfaction in the performance of these poor Calabrians, which was chiefly intended for the infant; and he desired me to remark that the tunes were plain, simple, and such as might naturally be supposed agreeable to the ear of a child at his time of life."- (Vol. ii. pp. 77, 78.)

Such is the popular belief. But how completely does it discard all real reference to HIM who is thus represented! who is not now, as more than eighteen hundred years ago, an infant: but, having suffered for our sins, has "sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." (Heb. i. 3, 4.) How completely does this representation of Christ, as an infant of days, keep out of view the great work of the atonement, and promote the error of applying to his mother as a mediator, having authority over him. ["The spirit of Letters from a Father to his Children," p. 212. London: 1810. Though chiefly designed for the young, these ably written letters may be advantageously read by students of a larger growth; nor do we know a more useful present which can be made to youth, who are about to visit countries where Popery is dominant, in order to forewarn them against its seductive witchery.]
~Thomas Hartwell Horne (, The Worship of the Virgin Mary and of the Popes of Rome. via The Quarterly Review of the American Protestant Association