Statue of Mary

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: At a parish church that I frequent, there is a statue of Our Lady on the Sanctuary (to the side and not close to the altar – it is a large sanctuary).

It has been mentioned to me that the statue should not be there because liturgical principle dictate that the focus should be on the Eucharistic Sacrifice during Mass.

I agree with the liturgical principle and understand the GIRM supports this in a few places:

GIRM 289 “[Art] which nourishes faith and devotion and accords authentically with both the meaning and the purpose for which it is intended.”

GIRM 292 “In the choice of materials for church appointments there should be…an intent to foster the instruction of the faithful.”

While I agree that nothing should distract from the Eucharistic presence of Christ in the Mass (in all forms e.g. Word, minister, altar, people gathered, etc.) I am not sure I agree a statue of Mary has this effect. I believe Popes, Saints, and popular piety throughout our Church history would attest to the profound connection of Marian devotion to Eucharistic adoration.

I am hoping you can provide me with some further insight on the subject, dear Father.

God Bless you.


A: In general, the principal furnishings of a sanctuary should be altar, ambo and presider’s chair. Other decorations should respect that. I don’t know of anything forbidding a statue of Mary in the sanctuary, and there are countless examples of churches that have one. Just use good judgment.