Mary and God the Father: Mary's Holiness©

The charts below are direct quotes from Post-Vatican II Magisterial Documents concerning the theme, Mary's Holiness. These teachings of the Catholic Church may prove useful to include in talks, homilies or for research. For the full title and document data, click on the abbreviation code (for example, BYM leads you to the document, Behold Your Mother). This will also lead you to the complete document on this website, or assist you in locating it elsewhere.

For an index of the documents used in the study see: List of Magisterial Documents
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Documents I. Mary and God the Father / 3. Holiness (enriched)
[Note: see also "full of grace"
Lumen Gentium, 1964
  • all holy 56
  • exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of Lords... (cf. Rev 19:16) 59
  • endowed with the high office and dignity of the Mother of the Son of God 53
  • far surpassing all creatures [because endowed and exalted] 53
  • enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role... all holy, free from every stain of sin 56
  • enriched from the first instant of her conception with the splendor of an entirely unique hailed by the heralding angel, by divine command, as "full of grace" (cf. Lk 1:28) 56 et al
  • by reason of the gift and role of divine motherhood...63
  • unique graces and functions...also intimately united to the Church 63
  • by grace been a place second only to her Son 66
Mense Maio, 1965
  • Mary most holy 10
Signum Magnum, 1967
  • most holy Virgin Mary because of her special privileges (her role as Mother of God being the pre-eminent one) 6 Mary's outstanding holiness was not just a singular gift from God. It was also a result of that fact that she freely and earnestly heeded the interior promptings of the Holy Spirit at all times 16 [God our Savior, i.e. the Father] who...gave us Mary as an example of holiness to be imitated 24 possessed outstanding holiness 29
Basic Teaching for Catholic Education (USA), 1973
  • singularly blessed and relevant
Behold Your Mother (USA), 1973
  • God's free choice is the reason for Mary's place in the plan for our redemption. 6
  • Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most holy (Divine Praises) 10
  • God bestows His grace freely.. . Mary, then, has a central function in the fulfillment of redemption.15


  • In the Bible "blessed" is the preferred description of the Mother of Jesus. 51
  • John Macquarrie, Anglican theologian, suggests that the beatitudes help us understand how the word "blessed" is particularly associated with Mary: "The qualities set forth there are those which we see also in the Blessed Virgin. So the blessedness of the Virgin adumbrates the blessedness of the Church - no earthly happiness, but a 'likeness to God,' which means a participation in God's self - giving love. . . ."51
  • ... the belief of the primitive Church in Mary's unique holiness: "All ages to come will call me blessed. . . . God who is mighty has done great things for me." (Lk 1:48) In her, above all others, was realized the promise of our Lord "blest are those who hear the word of God and keep it." (Lk 11:28).51
    [See also quote from John Henry Newman on blessedness of sanctity 54]
  • The Virgin Mary was called by the Fathers of the Church "all holy," the term beloved to this day by Christians in the East. 52  [Eastern Liturgy 90]
  • "free from all stain of sin,"... The Second Vatican Council asserts that she was "adorned with the radiance of a singular holiness from the first moment of her conception...." (LG 56) 52 [refers to both holiness and Immaculate Conception]
  • initial holiness, a totally unmerited gift of God 56
  • Pondering the hidden holiness of Mary, the Church learns to imitate her charity and to carry out in faith the Father's will. 80
  • holy 106
Marialis Cultus, 1974
  • [liturgy, doctrinal theme] fullness of grace 11
  • [liturgy, doctrinal theme] her exemplary sanctity; the holy Mother of God and therefore the provident Mother of the Church. (Prayer after Communion) 11
  • [see also] singular dignity of the Virgin; holiness and virtues of her who is "full of grace." (Lk 1:28) 22
  • In the Virgin Mary everything is relative to Christ and dependent upon Him. It was with a view to Christ that God the Father from all eternity chose her to be the all-holy Mother and adorned her with gifts of the Spirit granted to no one else. 25
  • "Mother of the Son of God, and therefore beloved daughter of the Father and Temple of the Holy Spirit - Mary, who, because of this extraordinary grace, is far greater than any other creature on earth or in heaven." (LG 53) 56
  • her holiness, already full at her Immaculate Conception yet increasing all the time as she obeyed the will of the Father and accepted the path of suffering (cf. Lk. 2:34-35, 41-52; Jn. 19:25-27), growing constantly in faith, hope and charity. 56
Sharing the Light of Faith (USA), 1979
  • Singularly blessed, Mary speaks significantly to our lives and needs in the sinlessness of her total love 106
Dominum et Vivificantem, 1986
  • Mary is also the one who obtained mercy in a particular and exceptional way, as no other person has. 9
  • Mary, then, is the one who has the deepest knowledge of God's mercy. She knows its price; she knows how great it is. In this sense, we call her the Mother of Mercy; our Lady of mercy, or Mother of divine mercy; in each one of these titles there is a deep theological meaning, for they express the special preparation of her soul, of her whole personality, so that she is able to perceive, through the complex events, first of Israel, then of every individual and of the whole humanity, that mercy of which "from generation to generation (Lk 1:50) people become sharers according to the eternal design of the most Holy Trinity. 9
Redemptoris Mater, 1987 Articles 7-11: "full of grace"
  • God who is the "Father of our Lord Jesus Christ ...chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace." (Eph. 1:4-7)... [the plan] includes everyone, but it reserves a special place for the "woman" who is the Mother of him to whom the Father has entrusted the work of salvation. (Ftn 19: cf. John Damascene) 7
  • (Lk. 1:29): What could those extraordinary words mean, and in particular the expression "full of grace"? (kecharitomene) (Ftn 21, history of term) 8
  • [scriptural echoes of term: Ephesians, "blessed among women," (cf. Lk. 1:42) a spiritual blessing which is meant for all people and which bears in itself fullness and universality ("every blessing"), Blessing, however, refers to Mary in a special and exceptional degree: for she was greeted by Elizabeth as "blessed among women."] 8
  • in the soul of this "daughter of Sion" there is manifested, in a sense, all the "glory of grace," that grace which "the Father .. has given us in his beloved Son." 8
  • The messenger greets Mary as "full of grace"; he calls her thus as if it were her real name. He does not call her by her proper earthly name: Miryam (= Mary), but by this new name: "full of grace." 8
  • [What, why] 8
    - In the... Bible "grace" means a special gift, [in NT] has its source precisely in the Trinitarian life of God himself, God who is love (cf. I Jn. 4:8).
    - The fruit of this love is "the election" of which the Letter to the Ephesians speaks.
    - This election is the eternal desire to save man through a sharing in his own life (cf. 2 Pt. 1:4) in Christ: it is salvation through a sharing in supernatural life.
    - The effect of this eternal gift, of this grace of man's election by God, is like a seed of holiness, or a spring which rises in the soul as a gift from God himself, who through grace gives life and holiness to those who are chosen.
    - When we read that the messenger addresses Mary as "full of grace," the Gospel context, which mingles revelations and ancient promises, enables us to understand that among all the "spiritual blessings in Christ" this is a special "blessing."
    [Hence]- the one whom the Father "has chosen" as Mother of his Son in the Incarnation
    - Together with the Father, the Son has chosen her, entrusting her eternally to the Spirit of holiness
    - In an entirely special and exceptional way Mary is united to Christ 8
    - and similarly she is eternally loved in this "beloved Son," this Son who is of one being with the Father, in whom is concentrated all the "glory of grace."
    - At the same time, she is and remains perfectly open to this "gift from above." (cf. Jas. 1:17) As the Council teaches, Mary "stands out among the poor and humble of the Lord, who confidently await and receive salvation from him." (LG 55) 8
  • [Mary's election] 9 - as Mother of the Son of God.
    - at the same time the "fullness of grace" indicates all the supernatural munificence from which Mary benefits by being chosen and destined to be the Mother of Christ.
    - [if election for everyone] then the election of Mary is wholly exceptional and unique. Hence, also the singularity and uniqueness of her place in the mystery of Christ.
  • Because of this gift of sublime grace, she far surpasses all other creatures, both in heaven and on earth." (LG 53) 9
  • Mary, Mother of the Incarnate Word, is placed at the very center of that enmity, that struggle which accompanies the history of humanity on earth and the history of salvation itself. In this central place, she who belongs to the "weak and poor of the Lord" bears in herself, like no other member of the human race, that "glory of grace" which the Father "has bestowed on us in his beloved Son," and this grace determines the extraordinary greatness and beauty of her whole being.11
  • Mary thus remains before God, and also before the whole of humanity, as the unchangeable and inviolable sign of God's election, spoken of in Paul's letter: "in Christ ... he chose us ... before the foundation of the world .... he destined us ... to be his sons." (Eph. 1:4, 5) 11
  • The fullness of grace announced by the angel means the gift of God himself. Mary's faith, proclaimed by Elizabeth at the Visitation, indicates how the Virgin of Nazareth responded to this gift.12
Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday, 1988
  • The Council text goes on to develop this typological analogy: "The Church, moreover, contemplating Mary's mysterious sanctity, imitating her charity and faithfully fulfilling the Father's will, becomes herself a mother by faithfully accepting God's word." [LG 64] 4
The VM in Intellectual and Spiritual Formation, 1988
  • becoming by grace " Mother of God."( cf. LG 53) 6
  • In view of this unique mission, ..., enriched her with an abundance of heavenly gifts and, in the plan of his Wisdom "willed that consent of the predestined mother should precede the Incarnation." (LG 56) 6 [See also 9]
Mulieris Dignitatem, 1988
  • The "fullness of time" manifests the extraordinary dignity of the "woman." ... This dignity consists in the supernatural elevation to union with God in Jesus Christ, which determines the ultimate finality of the existence of every person both on earth and in eternity. [hence] the "woman" is the representative and the archetype of the whole human race ...4
  • She "precedes" everyone on the path to holiness. 27
Redemptoris Custos, St. Joseph, 1989
  • "It is certain that the dignity of the Mother of God is so exalted that nothing could be more sublime; yet because Mary was united to Joseph by the bond of marriage, there can be no doubt but that Joseph approached as no other person ever could that eminent dignity whereby the Mother of God towers above all creatures. Since marriage is the highest degree of association and friendship, involving by its very nature a communion of goods, it follows that God, by giving Joseph to the Virgin, did not give him to her only as a companion for life, a witness of her virginity and protector of her honor: he also gave Joseph to Mary in order that he might share, through the marriage pact, in her own sublime greatness." [Leo XIII] 20
  • This bond of charity was the core of the Holy Family's life. 21
Veritatis Splendor, 1993
  • "all-holy" 106
Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 1994
  • In the broad perspective of commitments, Mary Most Holy, the highly favored daughter of the Father, will appear before the eyes of believers as the perfect model of love towards both God and neighbor. 54
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994
Fidei Depositum, 1992

490 To become the mother of the Savior, Mary "was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role." (LG 56) The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as "full of grace." (Lk 1:28) In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly born by God's grace.

492 The "splendor of an entirely unique holiness" by which Mary is "enriched from the first instant of her conception" comes wholly from Christ: she is "redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son." (LG 53, 56) The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person "in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" and chose her "in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love." (cf. Eph 1:3-4)

493 The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God "the All-Holy" (Panagia) and celebrate her as "free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature." (LG 56) By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long.

867 The Church is holy: the Most Holy God is her author; Christ, her bridegroom, gave himself up to make her holy; the Spirit of holiness gives her life. Since she still includes sinners, she is "the sinless one made up of sinners." (no source given) Her holiness shines in the saints; in Mary she is already all-holy.

Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 2002
  • I wish to lift up my thanks to the Lord in the words of his Most Holy Mother, under whose protection I have placed my Petrine ministry: Totus Tuus! 3
  • When in the Rosary we plead with Mary, the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit (cf. Lk 1:35), she intercedes for us before the Father who filled her with grace and before the Son born of her womb, praying with us and for us. 16
  • She is "all-powerful by grace," to use the bold expression, which needs to be properly understood, of Blessed Bartolo Longo in his Supplication to Our Lady. 16
Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 2003
  • Above all, let us listen to Mary Most Holy, in whom the mystery of the Eucharist appears, more than in anyone else, as a mystery of light. Gazing upon Mary, we come to know the transforming power present in the Eucharist. In her we see the world renewed in love. 62

© This material has been compiled by M. Jean Frisk.
Copyright is reserved for The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute.

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