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by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

God sent Our Blessed Mother to Fatima with the message that He wants to establish in the world devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. God wishes to establish this devotion for a number of important reasons.

He knows that through this devotion, many souls will be saved. When the three children of Fatima were shown a vision of hell, Our Lady said to them: “You have just seen hell where the souls of sinners go. To save them God wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart.”

St. Alphonsus proves in the 8th chapter of Section One of Part I of The Glories of Mary, which we reprint here below, that it is impossible for a client of Mary to be lost eternally if he is faithful in honoring Her and recommending himself to Mary Most Holy. Thus we can see why God is anxious (so to speak) to establish devotion to Mary’s Immaculate Heart. If we do what St. Alphonsus teaches in this article, that is persevere in the practice of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, then St. Alphonsus assures us of eternal salvation. Pope Leo XIII taught all graces that come to us, come from God through the Humanity of Jesus Christ, through the hands of the Blessed Virgin Mary to us. God wants us to realize that He grants all graces, including that of final perseverance, through Mary.

God wants to establish devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary because when this devotion is established, true Christian peace will come to the world as a result of the grace of God flowing to mankind through the intercession of Mary’s Immaculate Heart. In the Message of Fatima, God is letting us know that in order to bring peace to the world, He requires of us not only our prayers and merits, but also our appeal to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As St. Augustine says, certain favors and graces God wants to grant to men, but because men are unworthy of them, He will not grant them except through the intercession of the Saints. Peace, then, we are told at Fatima, will not be granted to the world except through the intercession and merits of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At Fatima God promised that true Christian peace will be given to mankind when the Catholic Bishops of the world, together with the Pope, on one special day solemnly consecrate Russia and the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. When peace is brought to the world, and people see that it came about as a result of the consecration to the Immaculate Heart, then they will realize the importance of devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. As a result, very many more people will begin to practice devotion to the Immaculate Heart, and many souls will thereby be saved. True peace in the world will not only mean no war, but there will also be no instigation of class struggle that is Marxism, which in reality always results, (wherever Communism establishes itself), as is the real plan of the militant atheists, in the slavery of the people, especially the poor, under a cruel dictatorship. There will also be no subversion of the morals of free people by militant atheists and no tacit approval of crimes (such as abortion) against human rights by governments, but rather there will be real truth, justice and peace throughout society.

Without the grace of God, we as individuals and societies, countries, nations and states, can do nothing. We need the grace of God, which comes to us through Jesus, Mary, and the Church — to have peace in the world.

It is impossible for a servant of Mary to be lost, if he faithfully honors Her and recommends himself to Her. This statement may appear to some, at first sight, to be exaggerated; but I beg anyone to whom this might seem to be the case to withhold judgment, and to read first what I have to say on this subject in the following pages.

When we say that it is not possible for a servant of Mary to be lost, we are not speaking of course of those who take advantage of their devotion to sin all the more freely. Those who disapprove of saying so much about Mary’s mercy toward sinners, on the grounds that this only causes them to sin all the more, do so without cause, for such presumptuous sinners deserve punishment, not mercy, for their rash confidence. We are referring rather to those clients of Mary who, with a sincere desire to mend their ways, are faithful in honoring and recommending themselves to Her. It is morally impossible, I say, for such persons to be lost. And I find that Father Crasset has also said the same thing in his book on devotion to the Blessed Virgin. So also Vega before him, in his Marian Theology, Mendoza, and other theologians. And we can see that they were not speaking at random when we examine what other saints and learned men have said on the subject. Let no one be surprised to find that many of these quotations are similar in content. I give them all in order to show how unanimous the various writers have been on the subject.

St. Anselm says: “that as it is impossible for one to be saved who is not devoted to Mary and is therefore not protected by Her, so it is impossible for one who recommends himself to Her and is consequently loved by Her to be lost”. St. Antoninus repeats the same idea in almost identical words: “Just as it is impossible for those from whom Mary turns Her eyes of mercy to be saved, so also it is impossible for those toward whom She turns Her eyes and for whom She prays not be justified and glorified.” Consequently, the saint adds, the servants of Mary are necessarily saved.

Note particularly the first part of the opinions of these saints, and let those tremble who do not take seriously their devotion to Mary or who give it up out of carelessness. They say that it is impossible for those to be saved who are not protected by Mary. Others have said the same thing, such as St. Albert, who proclaims: “All those who are not Your servants, O Mary, will perish.” And St. Bonaventure: “Anyone who neglects Mary will die in his sins.” In another place he says: “Whoever does not call upon You in this life will not get to Heaven.” And in commenting on the 99th Psalm, St. Bonaventure even goes so far as to say that those from whom Mary turns Her face not only will not be saved, but will have no hope of salvation. Before him, St. Ignatius the Martyr said that it was impossible for any sinner to be saved without the help and favor of the Blessed Virgin, because those whom God does not save out of justice He saves in His infinite mercy through the intercession of Mary. Some doubt whether this passage is actually from St. Ignatius. In any case, Father Crasset says the same idea was expressed by St. John Chrysostom. It is also repeated by the Abbot of Celles. And it is with this meaning that Holy Church applies to Mary the words of Proverbs: “All that hate Me love death,” (Proverbs 8:36). That is, all who do not love Me, love eternal death, because, as Richard of St. Lawrence says, commenting on the words: “She is like the merchant’s ship,” (Proverbs 31:14), all those who are not on this ship shall be drowned in the sea of this world. Even the heretic Oecolampadius looked upon little devotion to the Mother of God as a sure sign of reprobation, for he said: “Let it never be said of me that I reject Mary, for I regard it as a certain sign of a reprobate mind when one is not devoted to Her.”

On the other hand, Mary says: “He that hearkeneth to Me shall not be confounded,” (Ecclesiastius 24:30). That is, he who listens to what I say, shall not perish. That is why St. Bonaventure says: “He who renders homage to You, shall be far from perdition.” And St. Hilary says that this will be the case even with one who has greatly offended God in the past: “No matter how great a sinner he may have been, if he has become devoted to Mary he shall never be lost.”

It is for this reason that the devil does his utmost to make sinners lose devotion to Mary after they have lost the grace of God. When Sarah saw Isaac playing with Ismael, who was teaching him evil ways, she told Abraham to banish Ismael and his mother Agar: “Cast out this slave-girl and her son,” (Genesis 21:10). She was not satisfied to have the son driven out of the house but also wanted the mother sent away, because she thought that otherwise he would keep coming back to the house if he saw his mother there. In the same way the devil is not content to see a soul drive out Jesus Christ unless His Mother is also banished: “Cast out this slave-girl and her son.” Otherwise he fears that the Mother will bring back Her Son by Her intercession. “And his fears are well-grounded,” says the learned Father Paciucchelli; “for he who is faithful in serving God’s Mother will soon receive God Himself by the means of Mary.”

St. Ephrem is right in calling devotion to Mary the “charter of liberty,” our safeguard against hell. He also calls Mary the “only hope of those who are in mortal sin.” And rightly, for it is certain, according to St. Bernard: “Neither the power nor the will to save us can be wanting to Mary.” The power cannot be wanting, “for it is impossible that Her prayers should not be heard;” as St. Antoninus says, “It is impossible that a Mother of God should pray in vain.” And St. Bernard says the same thing: “that Her requests can never be refused but that She obtains whatever She wills.” She is not lacking in the will to save us, because She is our Mother and desires to save us more than we do ourselves. So if this be true, how can anyone who is devoted to Mary ever perish? He may be a sinner, but if he perseveres in his intention to mend his ways and recommends himself to this good Mother, She will make it Her business to beg for him light to abandon his wicked state, sorrow for his sins, perseverance in virtue, and finally a good death. What mother, able to free her son from death by merely asking the judge on his behalf, would not do so? And can we imagine that Mary, the most loving Mother Her faithful servants could ever have, would not save Her children from eternal death when She can do it so easily?

Devout reader, let us thank the Lord when we see that He has given us affection for and confidence in the Queen of Heaven, because, as St. John Damascene says: “God only grants this favor to those whom He is determined to save.”

These are the beautiful words of the saint with which he rekindles his own and our hope: “O Mother of God, if I place my confidence in You I shall be saved. If I am under Your protection I have nothing to fear, because the fact that I am Your servant means the possession of a certainty of salvation which God gives only to those whom He intends to save.” Erasmus salutes the Blessed Virgin with these words: “Hail, O terror of hell and hope of Christians! Confidence in You is a pledge of salvation.”

How enraged the devil must be when he sees a soul persevering in devotion to the Divine Mother! We read in the life of Blessed Alphonsus Rodriguez, who was deeply devoted to Mary, that once when he was at prayer and very much troubled by the impure temptations of the devil, satan said to him: “Give up devotion to Mary and I shall give up tempting you.”

Blosius tells us that God revealed to St. Catharine of Siena: “That in His goodness and on account of the Incarnate Word, He had granted to Mary, who was His Mother, that no one, not even a sinner, who devoutly recommends himself to Her, should ever become the prey of hell” Even the prophet David begged to be delivered from hell, for the sake of the love he bore to Mary: “I have loved, O Lord, the beauty of Thy house … Take not away my soul, O God, with the wicked,” (Psalms 25, 8-9). He says “of Thy house” because Mary was that house which God, in becoming man, built for Himself here on earth as His dwelling and resting-place, as it is written in Proverbs: “Wisdom hath built Herself a house,” (Proverbs 9: 1). St. Ignatius the Martyr said: “He who is devout to the Virgin Mother will certainly never be lost.” And St. Bonaventure confirms this by saying: “O Mary, those who love You enjoy peace in this life and their souls will never see eternal death.” The devout Blosius assures us: “that the case never did and never will occur in which a humble and attentive servant of Mary was lost.”

“How many would have remained obstinate in sin and would have been eternally lost,” says Thomas a Kempis, “if the most kind Virgin Mary had not interceded with Her Son that He might show them mercy”. It is the opinion of many theologians, and of St. Thomas in particular, (S.T. Supp. Q. 71, A.5) that sometimes the Divine Mother has obtained from God a suspension of the sentence of certain souls who die in mortal sin and enables them to return to life in order to do penance.

Trustworthy authors give us many instances when this has occurred.1 Among others, Flodoard, who lived in the ninth century, relates in his Chronicles that a certain deacon named Adelman who was apparently dead — and was being buried, returned to life and said: “that he had seen hell to which he was condemned but that, at the prayers of the Blessed Virgin he had been sent back to this world to do penance.”

Surius relates a similar case of a Roman citizen named Andrew who had died impenitent, and for whom Mary obtained that he should come to life again, that he might be pardoned. Moreover, Pelbart says: “that in his time, when the emperor Sigimund was crossing the Alps with his army, a voice was heard coming from a skeleton asking for a confessor, and declaring that the Mother of God, for whom he had had a tender devotion when a soldier, had obtained that he should thus live until he had been able to make his confession; and, having done so, the soul departed.”2

These and other examples of this type, however, must not encourage rash persons to live in sin in the hope that Mary will eventually save them from hell, even if they die in sin. Just as it would be madness for anyone to throw himself into a well in the hope that Mary would save him from death, simply because She had once saved a person in similar circumstances, so too it would be even greater madness to risk dying in sin, on the presumption that She would save him from hell. Nevertheless these examples serve to revive our confidence when we realize that if the Divine Mother has been able to preserve from hell by Her intercession even some who have died in sin, how much more will She be able to keep from falling into hell those who during their life have recourse to Her with a purpose of amendment and who serve Her faithfully.

Let us therefore say with St. Germanus: “If You abandon us, O Mother of God, what will become of us sinners who want to amend and turn to You who are the life of Christians?” Let us listen to St. Anselm, who says that no one for whom Mary has once prayed will ever experience eternal punishment. He says: “Those for whom You have prayed will not be damned.” Pray, then, for us, and we shall be preserved from hell. “Who,” exclaims Richard of St. Victor, “will presume to say, ‘if I have Thee to defend me, O Mother of mercy, that the Judge will be unfavorable to me when I am presented before the divine tribunal’!”

Blessed Henry Suso used to maintain that he placed his soul in Mary’s hands and that, if the Judge wanted to condemn him, he wanted the sentence to be handed down by Mary. He meant by this that, if sentence of condemnation were passed on him, he was confident that it would not be carried out if the execution had to pass through the merciful hands of the Blessed Virgin. I say and hope the same for myself, O Most Blessed Queen. I say with St. Bonaventure: “In You, O Mary, I have hoped and I shall not be confounded forever.” I have placed all my hopes in You, O Blessed Mother, therefore I confidently hope never to be lost, but to be saved, and so to praise and love You forever in Heaven.


1. In view of these examples and of those we read farther on, there arises the twofold question, De jure et de facto. Question de jure: Can God hinder, and can the Blessed Virgin obtain by Her prayers, that condemnation to hell be not put in execution? With these theologians, and notably with St. Alphonsus, there is no one who would not answer, Yes. Question de facto: Has it happened, thanks to the prayers of the Blessed Virgin, that sinners condemned to hell have not been plunged into it, and that by a good confession they have effaced the sentence of their condemnation? Yes; for the facts that I cite, says St. Alphonsus, are affirmed by trustworthy authors as real and public facts.

2. This is undoubtedly a very strange fact. However, who will dispute it, either by limiting the power of God or the influence of the Blessed Virgin, or by refusing to believe the authority of a writer such as Father Pelbart, who, in a book dedicated to Pope Sixtus IV, relates in detail this prodigy as having happened at this time in the presence of an illustrious emperor and the members of his court, several of whom, as they were yet living, could have convicted him of falsehood, if he had not told the truth! This reflection is made by Father Crasset; it may also be applied to other examples no less wonderful. Moreover, the miracle here is affirmed by a great number of most respectable authors, among them, Lyraeus is distinguished by his most circumstantial narrative in his Trisagion Marianum, 1.l, son. 31.