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Everybody knows, of course, that Catholics worship the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints, as well as statues and images. Believe it or not, I have no intention of denying this, because it happens to be true. If this surprises you, it may be because you haven’t thought much about the word ‘worship’. It comes from two old English words: ‘worth’ and ‘-ship’, or worth-ship if you like. It is both a verb and a noun, and it means giving to a person – or even to a thing – that worth or honour which is due. It is, for instance, the fidelity and love which is due from a man to his wife, and in this sense it is used in the marriage service. It is the obedience and filial devotion due from a son to his parents. It is the particular honour due to such a civic dignitary as ‘his worship the Mayor’. It is found in the reverence a man may have for his mother’s photograph, or in the feelings of a royalist standing before a statue of King Charles I.

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