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date: 17 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Mary, the queen of heaven and the most powerful intercessor among all the saints, was the focus of intense piety and devotion at the turn of the sixteenth century. She played a central role in the life of Christians, both in private devotions and in public ritual. But not everyone was pleased with the quantity or quality of Marian devotion. Following earlier critics, Martin Luther rejected much of the medieval cult surrounding Mary and transformed Marian devotion, inspiring a shift in her image from that of a powerful, merciful queen to a humble, obedient housewife. Although he maintained a warm, if transformed, devotion to Mary himself, Luther’s understanding of her role as the Mother of God and foremost of saints was dramatically different from the late medieval understanding. His influence on Protestant areas had the long-term effect of reducing Mary’s importance in Christian life and her visibility to Christians.

Keywords: Marian devotion, intercession, humility, faith, Mother of God, Marian images, perpetual virginity, immaculate conception, Magnificat

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