St. Alphonsus Liguori on Mary


St. Alphonsus Liguori on Mary


Alphonsus Mary Liguori is a well-known, respected figure and influential Catholic Bishop of the past. His teachings have been available for over 250 years. He was declared Venerable in 1796, beatified in 1816, canonized in 1839 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1871 by Pope Pius IX. As of 1997 there were only 33 Doctors of the Church with Alphonsus being of this elite number. To be such a Doctor means that his teachings, though not considered ex cathedra, were carefully examined and approved by the Pope, the supreme teacher in the Roman Catholic Church. Hence, his teachings are believed by his Catholic readership, especially since they carry the endorsements of the Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur. He has also been considered an apostle of Mary, since he has done much to exalt her as you will soon read.

The following quotes from Alphonsus are from the book entitled, The Blessed Virgin Mary, which was taken from his much larger book, The Glories of Mary, first written in 1750. On the back cover of the 2000 edition of The Glories of Mary, we read:

The Glories of Mary, widely regarded as Saint Alphonsus Liguori’s finest masterpiece, has for two and a half centuries stood as one of the Catholic Church’s greatest expressions of devotion to the Blessed Virgin. Written as a defense of Our Lady at a time when Jansenistic writers were ridiculing Marian devotion, this classic work combines numerous citations from the Fathers and Doctors of the Church with Saint Alphonsus’s intense personal piety to produce a timeless treasury of teachings, prayers, and practices.

Hence, what you are about to read is Liguori’s so-called defense of Our Lady against those who were ridiculing Marian devotion. (Part One of The Glories of Mary is his phrase-by-phrase exposition of the Salve Regina.)

A Detailed Explanation of Salve Regina

Among the multitudinous roles and titles given to Mary by Catholicism, Alphonsus elaborates on how Mary is our life, our sweetness and our hope, as prayed by hundreds of millions of Catholics when reciting the rosary (in the Salve Regina). Alphonsus cites different sources from the Pope himself down to exalted Catholic saints to Doctors in Catholicism for the following concepts about Mary. These same views have been believed by millions of precious souls over the centuries. Please know that Vatican Council II has not renounced any of these teachings about Mary’s importance. Liguori’s teachings regarding Mary continue to be printed and spread throughout the world at this present time.

Mary is our Life

There are two primary reasons why Mary is our life, according to Dr. Alphonsus:

(1) Mary is our life, because she Obtains for us Pardon of our Sins. (St. Alphonsus Liguori, The Blessed Virgin Mary, Rockford, Illinois: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1982, p.49.)

(2) Mary is also our Life, because she Obtains for us Perseverance. ( Ibid., p.56.)

From there the following reasonings are presented as support:

To understand why the holy Church makes us call Mary our life we must know, that as the soul gives life to the body so does divine grace give life to the soul; for a soul without grace has the name of being alive, but is in truth dead, as it was said of one in the Apocalypse, “Thou hast the name of being alive, and thou art dead.” Mary, then, in obtaining this grace for sinners by her intercession, thus restores them to life. (Ibid., p.49.)

See how the Church makes her speak, applying to her the following words of Proverbs: “They that in the morning early watch for me shall find me.” … A little further on she says, “He that shall find me shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord.” “Listen,” exclaims St. Bonaventure on these words, “listen, all you who desire the kingdom of God ; honor the most blessed Virgin Mary and you will find life and eternal salvation.” (Ibid., pp. 49,50. Catholicism actually attributes Proverbs 8:17-35 to Mary. [The truth is this chapter is wisdom personified and has nothing to do with Mary.])

Besides incredibly misapplying Proverbs 8 to Mary, Alphonsus also quotes another so-called Catholic saint who believed honoring Mary is the way to find life and eternal salvation. Just knowing that Mary was not even in existence when Proverbs was written refutes the idea that it was her speaking there. Regarding honoring Mary to find life and eternal salvation, the Bible has no hint of this. Furthermore, please notice the following Scripture:

Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel, declares: “I promised that your house and your father’s house would minister before me forever.” But now the LORD declares: “Far be it from me! Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained.” (1 Sam 2:30)

All through the Scriptures we are shown that the emphasis is to be on honoring God. One is making a very serious mistake to disregard this truth or to exalt another in the place of Jesus for salvation.

Through Mary Alone Can We Hope
For Remission of Our Sins

After that, Aphonsus quotes other like-minded Catholic saints:

With reason, then, does St. Laurence Justinian call her “the hope of malefactors,” since she alone is the one who obtains them pardon from God. With reason does St. Bernard call her “the sinners’ ladder,” since she, the most compassionate Queen, extending her hand to them, draws them from an abyss of sin, and enables them to ascend to God. With reason does an ancient writer call her “the only hope of sinners,” for by her help alone can we hope for remission of our sins. (Ibid., pp.51,52.)

Therefore, St. Germanus says, “O Mother of God, thy protection never ceases, thy intercession is life, and thy patronage never fails.” And in a sermon the same saint says, that to pronounce the name of Mary with affection is a sign of life in the soul, or at least that life will soon return there. (Ibid., pp. 52,53.)

Mary is a Type of Noah’s Ark and
She Saves From Eternal Death

Mary is that happy ark, says St. Bernard, “in which those who take refuge will never suffer the shipwreck of eternal perdition.” At the time of the deluge even brutes were saved in Noe’s ark. Under the mantle of Mary even sinners obtain salvation. St. Gertrude once saw Mary with her mantle extended, and under it many wild beasts—lions, bears, and tigers—had taken refuge. And she remarked that Mary not only did not reject, but even welcomed and caressed, them with the greatest tenderness. The saint understood hereby that the most abandoned sinners who have recourse to Mary are not only not rejected, but that they are welcomed and saved by her from eternal death. Let us, then, enter this ark, let us take refuge under the mantle of Mary, and she most certainly will not reject us, but will secure our salvation. (Ibid., p.54.)

Now, if it is true (and I hold it as certain, according to the now generally received opinion)—that all the graces that God dispenses to men pass through the hands of Mary, it will be equally true that it is only through Mary that we can hope for this greatest of all graces—perseverance. And we shall obtain it more certainly if we always seek it with confidence through Mary. (Ibid., p.56.)

Among other things, you have just read a doctrine of Vatican Council II which states that Mary is the mediatrix of all graces. Liguori’s salvation message continues:

If Mary Condemns you, you will be Lost

When a soul loses devotion to Mary it is immediately enveloped in darkness, and in that darkness of which the Holy Ghost speaks in the Psalms: “Thou hast appointed darkness, and it is night; in it shall all the beasts of the woods go about.” When the light of heaven ceases to shine in a soul, all is darkness, and it becomes the haunt of devils and of every sin. St. Anselm says, that “if any one is disregarded and condemned by Mary, he is necessarily lost,” and therefore we may with reason exclaim, “Woe to those who are in opposition to this sun!” Woe to those who despise its light! that is to say, all who despise devotion to Mary. (Ibid., p.58.)

It was, then, not without reason that St. Germanus called the most blessed Virgin the breath of Christians; for as the body cannot live without breathing, so the soul cannot live without having recourse to and recommending itself to Mary, by whose means we certainly acquire and preserve the life of divine grace within our souls. (Ibid., p.59.)

This is exactly what we should do whenever we are assaulted by temptation: we should not stay to reason with it, but immediately fly and place ourselves under the mantle of Mary. (Ibid., p.62.)

If Mary undertakes our defence we are certain of gaining the kingdom of heaven. “This do, and thou shalt live.” (Ibid., p.63.)

To Cease To Recommend Yourself to Mary = Being Lost

If thy heart is thus far moved, it cannot do otherwise than protect me; and if thou protectest me, what can I fear? No, I fear nothing, I do not fear my sins, for thou canst provide a remedy; I do not fear devils, for thou art more powerful than the whole of hell; I do not even fear thy Son, though justly irritated against me, for at a word of thine He will be appeased. I only fear lest, in my temptations, and by my own fault, I may cease to recommend myself to thee, and thus be lost. (Ibid., p.63.)

Mary is our Sweetness

Concisely stated about this, Aphonsus writes:

Mary our Sweetness; she renders Death sweet to her Clients. (Ibid., p. 64.)

He goes on to explain:

In their afflictions, and more particularly in the sorrows of death, the greatest that can be endured in this world, this good Lady and Mother not only does not abandon her faithful servants, but as during our exile she is our life, so also is she at our last hour our sweetness, by obtaining for us a calm and happy death. For from the day on which Mary had the privilege and sorrow of being present at the death of Jesus her Son, Who was the head of all the predestined, it became her privilege to assist also at their deaths. And for this reason the holy Church teaches us to beg this most blessed Virgin to assist us, especially at the moment of death: “Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death!”

Mary, the All-Sufficient Protector

Ah, how quickly do the rebellious spirits fly from the presence of this Queen! If at the hour of death we have only the protection of Mary, what need we fear from all our infernal enemies? David, fearing the horrors of death, encouraged himself by placing his reliance on the death of the coming Redeemer and on the intercession of the virgin Mother. (Ibid., p.66.)

Nowhere in the entire Bible does it say that David encouraged himself as stated above. Moreover, nowhere in Scripture is there even a single Scripture which exalts Mary’s intercession above any other righteous person’s prayers or that she is the ultimate protector to have at death. Please don’t be mislead. Dr. Liguori continues:

St. Vincent Ferrer says, that not only does the most blessed Virgin console and refresh them, but that “she receives the souls of the dying.” This loving Queen takes them under her mantle, and thus presents them to the Judge, her Son, and most certainly obtains their salvation. (Ibid., p.68.)

Let us, then, be of good heart, though we be sinners, and feel certain that Mary will come and assist us at death, and comfort and console us with her presence, provided only that we serve her with love during the remainder of the time that we have to be in this world. Our Queen, one day addressing St. Matilda, promised that she would assist all her clients at death who, during their lives, had faithfully served her. “I, as a most tender mother, will faithfully be present at the death of all who piously serve me, and will console and protect them.” (Ibid., p.72.)

How great, then, should be our confidence in this Queen, knowing her great power with God, and that she is so rich and full of mercy that there is no one living on earth who does not partake of her compassion and favor. This was revealed by the blessed Lady herself to St. Bridget, saying, “I am the Queen of heaven and the Mother of mercy; I am the joy of the just, and the door through which sinners are brought to God. There is no sinner on earth so accursed as to be deprived of my mercy; for all, if they receive nothing else through my intercession, receive the grace of being less tempted by the devils than they would otherwise have been.” “No one,” she adds, “unless the irrevocable sentence has been pronounced” (that is, the one pronounced on the damned), “is so cast off by God that he will not return to Him, and enjoy His mercy, if he invokes my aid.” “I am called by all the Mother of mercy, and truly the mercy of my Son towards men has made me thus merciful towards them;” and she concludes by saying, “And therefore miserable will he be, and miserable will he be in eternity, who, in this life, having it in his power to invoke me, who am so compassionate to all, and so desirous to assist sinners, is miserable enough not to invoke me, and so is damned.” Let us, then, have recourse, and always have recourse, to this most sweet Queen, if we would be certain of salvation …. (Ibid., pp. 16,17.)

Please note that the parts related to salvation/damnation allegedly came from an earlier canonized Catholic saint named Bridget, who had visions of Mary. (Much of what Catholicism teaches about Mary, including sacramentals, has come as a result of visions. Examples of such sacramentals are the Rosary, brown scapular and miraculous medal.)

Mary our Hope

Dr. Liguori summarizes this section of his writings as:

Mary is the Hope of All. (Ibid., p. 76.)

But those who hope in Mary, as Mother of God, who is able to obtain graces and eternal life for them, are truly blessed and acceptable to the heart of God, Who desires to see that greatest of His creatures honored; for she loved and honored Him in this world more than all men and angels put together. And therefore we justly and reasonably call the Blessed Virgin our hope, trusting, as Cardinal Bellarmine says, “that we shall obtain through her intercession that which we should not obtain by our own unaided prayers.” (Ibid., p.77.)

“Hail, then, O hope of my soul!” exclaims St. Ephrem, addressing this divine Mother; “hail, O certain salvation of Christians; hail, O helper of sinners; hail, fortress of the faithful and salvation of the world!” (Ibid., p.78.)

O Mary, thou art all-powerful; for thy divine Son, to honor thee, complies instantly with all thy desires.”
      St. Gemanus, recognizing in Mary the source of all our good, and that she delivers us from every evil, thus invokes her: “O my sovereign Lady, thou alone art the one whom God has appointed to be my solace here below; thou art the guide of my pilgrimage, the strength of my weakness, the riches of my poverty, the remedy for the healing of my wounds, the soother of my pains, the end of my captivity, the hope of my salvation! Hear my prayers, have pity on my tears, I conjure thee, O thou who art my queen, my refuge, my love, my help, my hope, and my strength. (Ibid., p.80.)

If Jesus Rejects Us, Mary Will Obtain Forgiveness For Us

“If my Redeemer rejects me on account of my sins, and drives me from His sacred feet, I will cast myself at those of His beloved Mother Mary, and there I will remain prostrate until she has obtained my forgiveness; for this Mother of mercy knows not, and has never known, how to do otherwise than compassionate the miserable, and comply with the desires of the most destitute who fly to her for succor; and therefore,” he says, “if not by duty, at least by compassion, she will engage her Son to pardon me
      “Look down upon us, then,” let us exclaim, in the words of Euthymius, “look down upon us, O most compassionate Mother; cast thine eyes of mercy on us, for we are thy servants, and in thee we have placed all our confidence.” (Ibid., pp. 82, 83.)

Concluding Thoughts About the Mary of Catholicism

There are so many errors in the aforementioned quotes from Dr. Liguori, as well as the others whom he quoted, that a Bible-believing Christian is hard pressed to know how to respond to the numerous fallacies stated, except at times to simply state that this is clearly not the message of Scripture. In fact, it is not even close. Catholicism has lethally magnified Mary to such an elevated place in our lives, including our salvation, that many have been misled to trust in her instead of Jesus alone for their eternal salvation, as He himself taught. Jesus and his apostles openly declared that Jesus is our life (John 14:6; Col. 3:4), sweetness (Mt. 11:29 cf. Acts 7:59) and hope (1 Tim.1:1), but Catholicism has replaced the only Savior with his own mother or at other times tries to make Mary the way we get to Jesus for salvation. Either way, such is unscriptural and therefore spiritually deadly to believe.

Though some today might try to dismiss Dr. Liguori’s teachings as radical Marian devotion and not mainstream Catholicism, remember much of what you read was from other Catholic teachers. All Liguori did, with the help of others, was to expand upon the meaning of the Mary of Catholicism being our life, sweetness and hope, which all present-day Catholics agree upon as they recite the rosary. Again, to the student of the Bible, not only are these statements about Mary recognized as unscriptural, they are dangerously inaccurate and idolatrous. Without question, multiple authorities in Catholicism have exalted Mary to having a role in one’s salvation thus misleading millions of trusting souls. Clearly a wrong message for salvation has been and still is being spread by Catholicism. While Catholicism speaks of Jesus, it also mixes in Mary and other things for salvation, which changes the message and reduces it to a counterfeit—one that won’t bring the desired results. True salvation is found only in Jesus, with absolutely no trust and help from Mary. This is the message of the Bible and should also be ours if we are claiming to be his followers. GOD BLESS YOU.

Dan and Cheryl Corner

Evangelical Outreach
PO Box 265 , Washington , PA 15301


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