The worship of Mary. The term is used critically by Protestants, but strictly speaking the Roman Catholic Church does not encourage latria (worship which is due to God alone) but hyperdulia (special veneration). The references to Mary in the NT do nothing to encourage such a cult, and it seems to have come unofficially into the church in the fourth century. Pressure arising from popular devotion led to the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary in 1854, and that of her Assumption in 1950. She was thus officially provided in the Roman Catholic Church with a beginning and end of life parallel to those of Jesus, and terms like “our Lady” and the idea of her as mediatrix of redemption have helped to increase her importance as an object of devotion.