Q: When did Catholics begin praying to Mary and why?
A: After Jesus returned to Heaven, Mary remained the closest living link to Jesus, on the earth.
It’s not difficult to imagine how a brief personal encounter with the Blessed Virgin might provide inspiration to the faithful, and also provide faithful witness to an often incredulous and unbelieving world.
During such encounters, it was certainly not unusual for someone to ask Mary to pass along prayers and petitions to her divine son, Jesus. In fact, nothing could be more natural.
When Mary’s earthly existence was complete, those who knew her, particularly St. John, who was entrusted with her care by Christ, never believed for a moment that God would permit her holy and virginal human body to see the corruption of the grave.
Shortly after her body was placed in the tomb, the tomb was found to be empty, leading the apostles to believe that Mary had indeed been assumed into Heaven by the power of God, where she immediately received the fullness of all God’s rewards.
According to the Bible, those rewards include ruling and reigning with Jesus Christ, enthronement in a place of honor, and a share in God’s own divine life.
By virtue of our baptism, Catholics have the right to pray to anyone in Heaven, for any good reason.
This takes nothing at all away from the worship we reserve for God alone. It is simply the logical and natural way of staying in touch with all the members of the Body of Christ.
Mary is a living icon of the Church, the Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven, the holiest and most gracefully successful creature who ever lived, and the God-appointed intercessor on our behalf, with her divine son Jesus.
That’s plenty of reasons to stay in touch with her. Not that we can’t also pray to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, whenever we like.