In the normal scheme of things Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, would in early June, be starting to show signs - sickness at dawn, a craving for pickles, a slight bulge in the midriff - that she was expecting the famous baby that would be born at the end of December. That there was no acknowledged father, and since Mary was somehow proven to be still intact and inviolate, so there arose the story of the Immaculate Conception and the miraculous nature of Mary's maternal condition. To believers, the lady then swiftly rose to the level of a sub-deity - and there are those especially ardent admirers who, to this day, worship Mary, demand her recognition as a truly godlike creature, and pray to her with as much enthusiasm as they do to her esteemed son. By so doing, these super-keen people are said to be practitioners of mariolatry, or
the idolatrous worship of the Virgin Mary, attributed by opponents to Roman Catholics.
Mainstream Catholics, in common with most sensible Christians, take a dim view of the Mariolaters in their midst, and urge instead the rather more benign devotion to her memory displayed by the milder-mannered Marians. These men and women have tended to be regarded with a greater degree of tolerance - but also with some puzzled pity, it being generally difficult to explain the precise purpose of their attentions.