Verona is a staunchly Catholic city. There are at least five shrines to Mary within a few blocks from our home. A casual study of the Bible reveals the Mary venerated by Catholics is very different from the historic Mary of scripture. For instance, The Catechism of the Catholic Church (969) states, “Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation… Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.” Whereas Paul wrote, “For there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).
The Mary statues throughout the city are constant reminders of the religious identification of the majority of the Veronesi. They also reinforce false doctrine instilled within the people from early childhood.
The shrine above sits on a prominent corner in our neighborhood. The inscription below the statue reads “Mother of God pray for us.” The priest of the local parish will pray with people in front of it and last year he led a procession with a large statue of Mary through our neighborhood so that she might bless the residents.
The statue above is near the hospital down the street from our home. I have seen many people genuflect and make the sign of the cross before it. As I took this picture a car passed and the driver made the sign of the cross.
I often reflect upon Christ’s words to Paul in his call to the ministry, as recorded in the Book of Acts, “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (Acts 26:18). It can be a foreboding task to labor to help men see clearly the truth of the gospel through the fog of indoctrination, however I take comfort in the One who has no trouble in making blind men to see. He is my mediator and the only hope for Verona.