Extracts from "The Roman Church in Italy"

by Alexander Robertson D.D.

Edited by Sylvia Lacoski


Fra Paolo Sarpi in his "History of the Council of Trent" sketches the rise of Mariolatry in the papal church. The phrase "Mother of the Divine Son," used toward the end of the third century, was used not in her honour but in honour of Christ to show that He was born Divine. By degrees it was used in honour of Mary instead of Christ. In the eleventh century a canonical office was instituted in honour of her which gained ground by decrees of church councils and popes until the Jesuits came on the scene in the sixteenth century when it advanced in leaps and bounds.

In many cities in Italy great columns are to be seen on which stand a female figure with a crown on her head and sceptre in her hand. These are monuments to Mary, "the Queen of Heaven," raised to celebrate her Immaculate Conception - a false Romish claim, promulgated by pope Pius IX, December 8th, 1854, that she was born free from original sin.

Prayers to Mary

The Cult of Mary in the Roman Catholic Church has not only come into rivalry with the worship of God and Christ but has to a large extent supplanted it. Many more festival days are dedicated to Mary than anyone else; every town and village has its own local Madonna days. Every church has its Lady Chapel enriched with votive offerings of silver hearts, crosses, rosaries, scapulars, splints and crutches, mementos of her supposed cures and healings. Sometimes her statue is set on the high altar, dressed in cast-off finery and in abundance of glittering tinsel ornaments and set on a dais, to be adored.

Mr. Ruskin in his "Stones of Venice" says:

• "...Take the vilest doll that is screwed together in a cheap toy-shop, trust it to the keeping of a large family of children, let it be beaten about the house by them till it is reduced to a shapeless block, then dress it in a satin frock and declare it to have fallen from heaven, and it will satisfactorily answer all Romanist purposes."


If one Madonna brought an advantage, to be doubled by having two, and quadrupled by having four, and increased twenty times by having a score, or twelve dozen times by having a gross, why not have them? The manufacture of Madonnas is now a part of the recognized industry and there are as many human needs and desires to exist.

When someone wants to win at the lottery he prays to one Madonna, or to get rid of a cough to another, or if to destroy heretics or for the benefit of souls in Purgatory to yet another.

Why does the church multiply Madonnas until they are plentiful as blackberries and magnify Madonna worship until that of God and Christ become secondary and unimportant? For various reasons, but mainly, to make money! The more festival days that there are the more the money flows into the coffers of the church and into the pockets of the pope and priests.

When Count Campello left the Papal church the Archbishop of Spoleto sent a message that he wanted to see him. Upon his arrival the Archbishop said, "I was glad to see you in the chapel of the Holy Images the other day, I hope you felt them influencing you to return to the bosom of the church." The count replied he felt no such influence! The Archbishop exhorted him to go to a certain Madonna and pray there and leave a gift and if she did not help him to go to another. The count retorted, "It is a shame of you, a so-called Christian bishop, to talk to me in that way. Why, you are no better than an old pagan who would say go to Venus and of Venus does not help you, go to Diana."

The Real Mary Insulted

Mary in the Magnificat calls herself the ''Handmaid of the Lord," and the Saviour has told us that "the servant is not above his Lord." Need we wonder that a church that sells Christ daily on the altar for so much hard cash should not scruple to trade and traffic His mother.

Ruggero Bonghi who had the distinction of being at one time the only clerical member in the Italian Parliament, but in whom clericalism was associated with culture and intelligence, was accused of using offensive words to the Madonna. Replying in a letter to the daily press he said, "I offend the Madonna? No! but those who offend who make merchandise of her, who pretend to spread her worship whilst only seeking gain for themselves, who do not fear to clothe her in a pagan garment."

O happy day in which the Catholic nations would divest themselves of those beliefs that degrade them in the eyes of Protestants, and in which the priests would cease to obscure the minds of the people with ludicrous superstitions!