Mary and rosary — not for us?
Ask a Pastor
“Why do only Catholics believe in the Virgin Mary and the rosary?” — Sergio from Idaho
Rosanne: While it is true that Lutherans do not believe in and venerate — revere or worship — Mary in the same manner as the Roman Catholic Church does, we, nonetheless, believe that Mary was “Theotokos” (Greek for “God-bearer”). We honor her for her willingness to allow herself to become part of God’s work in the world. The origins of praying the rosary as a devotional practice and the beads as a way to do so are unclear, but it became part of the devotional practices in the veneration of Mary that began in the Middle Ages. The rosary was intended to allow the faithful to participate in the life of Mary whose focus was always upon Christ. The rosary was supposedly used to help the faithful remember the components and sequence of prayers, and meditate during the prayers.
Since Lutherans do not venerate Mary in the same manner, we do not have the practice of praying the rosary. However, there are some in the Lutheran church who use prayer beads — like a rosary — as a tactile way to focus their attention as they pray for the needs of the world, the church, their communities and families. I do.
Brian: All Christians who subscribe to the creeds believe in the Virgin Mary. Most non-Roman Catholics, however, do not pray to Mary to ask her to intercede with (talk to) God on their behalf. For Lutherans, Mary holds a special spot because of her model of faithfulness and obedience. We don’t invoke her help — nor that of any other saints — because we don’t find scriptural support for that notion.
Do you have a question you'd like answered by an ELCA pastor? Email your question to us as at email@example.com and you might see it answered by one of our pastors. You can also find out more about our pastors on our "Bios" page. LivingLutheran.com offers a platform for ELCA members to share their diverse experiences of what it means to live Lutheran.