Where is the Virgin Mary When You Really Need Her?

Editor’s Note: We are marking the Feast of the Assumption with this essay about the Virgin Mary. For those who are not familiar with this particular occasion, August 15th was set aside by the Vatican to honor the day that Mary, mother of Jesus, was bodily assumed into heaven. It’s a holy day of obligation for Catholics, meaning you must attend mass under pain of mortal sin. In Europe, there are also big parties that go deep into the night, featuring fireworks and loud music. I once attended a celebration in a small town in southern France that was quite raucous and irreverent – sort of like the portrayal of the Virgin presented here. It’s written by a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies/Clergy Project member and is reposted with permission from Debunking Christianity.


By David Madison

There’s some really big sin to slap down.

One of the bullets that struck Pope John Paul II on 13 May 1981 is now attached to the crown of the Lady of Fátima statue in Portugal. The thirteenth of May, you see, happens to be the Feast Day of the Lady of Fátima, and the pope had been an ardent devotee of the Virgin Mary his whole life. So he was convinced that Mary had saved his life; she had guided the bullet to miss a major artery. We’re tempted to wonder if Mary’s effort hadn’t been half-hearted: why didn’t she guide the bullet to miss the pope altogether? Piety has a way of blunting common sense.

I do have to wonder what prior century I’m living in—or may have been suddenly transported to—when I read a National Geographic article titled 500 Years of Virgin Mary Sightings in One Map.

At the top of the map we find this explanation:

“Starting in the 16th century, the Roman Catholic Church instituted a strict vetting process for miracles like the 2,000 sightings of the Virgin Mary claimed since A.D. 40. To be worthy of belief and church support, apparitions must be deemed miraculous with a high degree of certainty and in line with church doctrine, and found to have had a positive impact.”

“…deemed miraculous with a high degree of certainty…”? They only wish.

I don’t know if the ardent Catholic investigators check out all reports of Mary appearing on tree bark or toast—one piece of Virgin Mary toast brought $28,000 at auction—or if they seek to verify all of the Mary statues that supposedly bleed or weep.

If this is how Mary chooses to use her time and talents, I suggest that she should apply for a job upgrade. There are much bigger things to worry about. Yes, an attempted papal assassination is worthy of attention, but is there any way we can petition the Holy Mother to take her role as Queen of Heaven more seriously?


THIS is where she really needs to show up: every time a priest is about to rape a child, Mary should pop up in the room, scowling like the most severe nun ever. There could be variations on her message:

“You will rot in hell,” “Put it back in your pants,” “Don’t even think about it,” “Not even my son can save you if you do this.”

The problem, of course, is that the Holy Mother doesn’t have a strong role model. Pope Francis, that smiling master of public relations, has fallen down on his job as well. He likes to have informal chats with reporters on the papal plane, but it would be far better to hold monthly news conferences at the Vatican, with the sole purpose of bringing the world up to date on what he’s doing to prevent priests from raping kids. We need to know how many priests have been handed over to local police; how many predator priests have been fired after being moved on to other parishes; how many bishops and cardinals have been fired for helping with the cover-ups. The pope also needs to give the world an update on how the church has improved its vetting processes to detect priest candidates who remain stuck in sexual adolescence; also, Holy Father, describe the resources that have been gathered to help celibate clergy understand human sexuality.

Maybe we’re expecting too much of a church that counts on Mary worship to coddle the gullible; actually, Mariolatry is big business, so no doubt they deem it best to keep that product as far away as possible from the criminal activity responsible for the collapse of the church’s moral authority.


David Madison headshotBio: David Madison was a pastor in the Methodist Church for nine years and has a PhD in Biblical Studies. His book, Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief: a Minister-Turned-Atheist Shows Why You Should Ditch the Faith, was published by Tellectual Press.

>>>>Photo Credits: By Peter Paul Rubens – Web Gallery of Art:   Image  Info about artwork, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5100387

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  • alwayspuzzled

    Treating the Virgin Mary as a real entity with supernatural powers is an interesting literary device with some entertainment value. The author makes the most of the entertainment potential.
    There, of course, is an implied argument. ‘They’ are gullible; therefore, ‘we’ are not gullible. The logic here seems strained.

  • thornyrose

    There has always been a market (or a need if you want to call it that) for a goddess to compliment the male god.

    • ElizabetB.

      I think Jung agreed with you, writing about the psychological process of individuation and reconciling the opposites in human psyches, explaining how symbols help:

      “…the dogma of the Assumption — which, by the way, I consider to be the most important religious event since the Reformation.

      “…it leaves Protestantism with the odium of being nothing but *a man’s religion* which allows no metaphysical representation of woman…. Protestantism has obviously not given sufficient attention to the signs of the times which point to the equality of women. But this equality requires to be metaphysically anchored in the figure of a *divine* woman, the bride of Christ…. The feminine, like the masculine, demands an equally personal representation.” [“Answer to Job,” p.103]

      In the dogma, Mary is not a “goddess,” he says — but functionally she’s on a par with Christ — “….her position satisfies the need of the archetype.”

      I don’t really like dividing things masculine/feminine, but if you take the gender out of the qualities, the process is pretty interesting.

      David’s post was reminding me of this. ….that mama grizzly in the heavenlies — would that she would get us moving!!!

    • Duane Locsin

      Mary is not a god though, and didn’t ascend to that status. many simply referring to her as ‘the mother of god/Jesus (which is whole other can of worms)
      She was mortal women who is just there to give birth to a Demi-God (or god)and then fade into the backstory.

      Like Zeus and what’s her name (Herecleus’s human mom)

      There was however mention of Yahweh having an actual equivalent god spouse named Ashira (or something along those lines) before it was edited out of the Bible.. I figure because of patriarchal reasons.

  • Linda_LaScola

    A feast of the Assumption celebration claims 12 in Portugal https://www.reuters.com/article/us-portugal-accident-idUSKCN1AV1JU?il%3D0

    “LISBON (Reuters) – A tree toppled into a crowd of worshippers during a major Christian festival on the Portuguese island of Madeira on Tuesday, killing 12 people and leaving 50 injured, officials said.

    The accident happened during Madeira’s biggest annual Roman Catholic festival, which draws big crowds to celebrate the island’s patron saint, Our Lady of the Mount. Worshippers were struck by the falling tree near a shrine in a park in the hills above Madeira’s capital Funchal as they prepared for a procession.”

    A tragedy, obviously. I hope that survivors, in their shock and sorrow, don’t spend too much time trying to figure out what god was thinking.

    • Jack Baynes

      Our lady this and our lady that, is Mary also struck by the multiple personality problem that afflicts God?

      • Kevin K

        Not being raised Catholic, it took me quite some time to figure out that all of the “Our Ladies” were the same lady.

        Mary gets around, apparently.

      • Neo

        A mother likes to be close to all her children… “Son behold thy Mother” “Mother behold thy Son” …

    • Kevin K

      Well, of course they’re going to thank GOD that the tree just missed some old person or child.

      It’s the Miracle of Incomplete Devastation!

  • mason

    Educational and entertaining David.

    I had no idea Mary had also, like Mohamed and Jesus, defied gravity and ascended into Heaven. Mohamed probably should be ranked somewhat lower with anti-gravity super power, since he couldn’t ascend on his own and required the additional anti-gravity thrust of a winged horse. We Baptists and Pentecostals missed out on so much colorful and sensational Christian folklore.

    I’ve often wondered if there wasn’t some element of the Oedipus complex in play with God Jesus and Goddess Mary. After all, Jesus wasn’t completely thrilled that his sperm donor God Jehovah wanted him killed and tortured, and that could be more than enough to send him fleeing into the arms of Mother Mary for solace and comfort. His rudeness to her at the wedding in Canaan calling her “woman” more like something that would be said to a lover, not one’s mother. Toss in his public kissing and love for John, his prostitute groupies, and it looks like a reality TV show about a bi-sexual politician who’s quite sexually active.

    • Linda_LaScola

      I never thought about it that way. Raised Catholic, Mary ascending into heaven seemed perfectly normal.

    • igotbanned999

      Don’t forget Enoch and Elijah

    • Kevin K

      The thing that always confuses me about the non-Jesus people is that they ascended into heaven after their deaths. So, the corpse went up into heaven? What’s the point of that?

      Religions are weird.

  • Cozmo the Magician

    Well, according to that awesome totes singing theology student John Lennon. The best words Marry ever had was ‘let it be’ or as some aholes to day would say ‘suck it up buttercup, don’t be such a wuss’. He son OTOH, had all sorts of advice to give ranging from ‘hate your mom and dad’ ‘give all your money away’ ‘god hates fags.. i mean FIGS’. On the gripping hand, if you REAL want advice and help, go the big baby daddy. He can smite your enemies. Give you virgins to rape. Lots of wives and land to take over.

    • Linda_LaScola

      Only if you take the bible literally and not seriously, as liberal Christians like to say.

    • mason

      Fortunately today, magical spectacle lenses can be purchased at a local Christian bookstore or on Amazon.com that are similar to the ones Joseph Smith used to read the golden plates and translate into them into https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/966cd8c761e420bc281bdb58ec951e4b779cbd64924118c5bab836bbf5938ff8.jpg the amazing Book of Mormon. With these lenses these Biblical texts to be taken literally will be red and those to be taken figuratively will be in blue. It makes things so clear and easy to understand the deity’s commands. Spurious and plagiarized texts show highlighted in yellow.

    • Kevin K

      Two things.
      1. It was McCartney’s song, not Lennon’s.
      2. Mary was his mother, not some imaginary virgin. She died of cancer when Paul was 14.

      The things you pick up listening to the Beatles channel on Sirius.

      • Cozmo the Magician

        How DARE you correct my perfect post with ‘facts’ . My story is still totes awesome (;

      • Neo

        Um, Paul McCartney was baptized Catholic, and his mother, Mary was a Roman Catholic – yes, Mary was his mother’s name, but the reference IS to Mary, the Mother of Christ. let me know if you have any other questions about the Beatles.

        • Kevin K

          Um. No. Paul said himself that it was reference to his mother, not the other one. Sorry.

          • Neo

            unh, unh – unless, you have written songs, or in my case, a little poetry, you may not understand that it’s the classic way artists work – you take an isolated personal experience and tap into a universal concept or theme – yes, there was the dream about his mother, who did come to him and say “let it be”, but Paul ever the masterful song writer used this image in the song, knowing full well, he and his mother being baptized Catholics, that this was a biblical reference and this would tap into a universal religious subconscious – duh…

          • Kevin K

            Paul HIMSELF said it was a reference to HIS MOTHER, and NOT a religious reference. He didn’t “know full well” any such thing. You’re just making shit up.

            Please fuck off.

  • Ficino

    I just realized this, having read Bob Seidenstricker’s recent post: why is Mary the mother of Jesus not mentioned at the crucifixion except (until) in the Fourth Gospel?

    • ADG

      Because the author, John, was the only one of the apostles that was at the crucifixion

  • ColdFusion8

    Someone best inform the Catholic Church that there is a tomb of Mary at Gethsemane. There have also been several churches that claimed to have the bones of Mary… unless she went to Heaven without them, do you need bones in Heaven?

    • Michael Neville

      In 452 the Byzantine emperor, Marcian, ordered the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Juvenal, to send some relics of Mary to Constantinople, preferably whatever remained of her entire body. Juvenal couldn’t find any relics and told Marcian there weren’t any because Mary had been “assumed” to Heaven. The truly miraculous thing, at least for me, is that Marcian bought this song and dance. Flash forward almost exactly 1500 years. In 1950 Pope Pius XII declared the Assumption to be Catholic dogma to be believed by all Catholics. So an excuse became official doctrine.

      There have also been several churches that claimed to have the bones of Mary

      That’s in line with the really remarkable thing about Jesus’ body that’s never mentioned in the Bible. Jesus was circumcised as an infant and his foreskin was the only part of his body left on Earth. Jesus had at least seven penises because in Medieval times at least seven churches in the Middle East and Europe had his foreskin.

  • b s

    My wife dragged the family to church for this. During the homily, the priest told us the church searched through historical writings and tradition to see what was said about Mary being taken up into heaven because they couldn’t just make something up. As if most tradition isn’t just something someone made up a long time ago. Anyway, he said there were traditions where Mary died then was taken up into heaven, traditions where wary was taken up into heaven before she died, and traditions where she died, but her body didn’t decay. They concluded that she must have been taken up into heaven from that.

  • Bob Jase

    Look, Mary wasn’t much of a mother to begin with – her son was a homeless, jobless hobo who bummed around bilking people when he wasn’t being arrested for vandalism or something.

    • Michael Neville

      You have to remember that Mary and Jesus were Jews. In stereotypical fashion, Jesus thought his mother was a virgin and she thought her son was a god.

      • Neo

        Funny, but not exactly accurate…. Mary “pondered in her heart” many of the claims that her Son, Jesus was making. It is not clear what she knew and when.

        • Michael Neville

          Luke 1:28-35 is pretty explicit about what sort of child Mary would bear. “The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God’.” Luke 1:35 (NIV)

          • Neo

            “So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God'”

            Note, the angel did not say he IS the Son of God, he said he will be CALLED the Son of God -which in Mary’s mind must have left some doubt because it is later when, after she gives birth in the manger, when the Shepherds are telling her amazing things about the baby Jesus, that she “ponders”…also, later Jesus is recorded as saying in Luke 2:49 to Mary and Joseph “Why were you searching for me?” “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”… please…

    • Raging Bee

      Hey, she did her part to get her son into the family business!

  • anxionnat

    Mary is just another indication that Christianity was a Mystery religion. All of these religions featured a dying and resurrecting god, the gods were born of virgins, most of them were born on or around the Winter Solstice, most died on or around the Vernal Equinox, most resurrected after 3 days, most are credited with miracles, etc etc. Of course there are the statues of mother Isis and her son Horus who were mistaken for Mary and Jesus. This line of inquiry into ancient religions around the Mediterranean (but you find mystery religions as far away as Persia and India) has been amazingly fruitful. Most people joined multiple mystery religions (Christianity was one of the few who were exclusive) and worked up the 7 levels of the religions (reflected in 7 sacraments in Catholicism), learning more about the “mysteries” as time went on. Nero (yes, I know, horrid person) is said to have joined more than 10. Christianity seems to have been most closely related to Mithraism, with god birthday for both on Dec 25, and both popular with the Roman army. Mithraic temples, which were underground, have been found from Britain to Persia, wherever the army had a presence. The real difference between known mystery religions and Christianity is that Christianity ditched the 7 steps of enlightenment and only kept the public (pre-step 1) gatherings and practiced infant baptism, which most others did not. They believed in letting adults make their own decision about religion. A good book to get started on is Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy’s “The Jesus Mysteries: Was the ‘Original Jesus’ a pagan god?” Interestingly, one thing that members of these religions learned as they went up the steps, was that the stories told of the dying and resurrecting gods weren’t true. They were myth or metaphor–something Christianity never admitted, and what really sets Christianity apart from the others. Christianity also became a *recruiting* religion, which none of the others were.

    • Neo

      For the most part, I can’t disgree with your statements, as they neither prove nor disprove the claims in the Bible about the Mary, the Mother of Christ. But, Timothy Freke is not the guy you want to go to here to get to truth of the matter – The guys a novelist, “best selling author”. Go to the experts, the theologians for the heavy lifting in this area, and that leads you to the world renowned and respected French Theologian, Rene Laurentin who, by the way, is in full support of the claims …..yeah, stay away from the Freke.