Interview with Samantha Povlock on Befriending Mary

This interview is the fourth in our four-part Befriending Mary series for the month of May. Learn more about the series here.


About Samantha

Samantha Povlock is the founder of FemCatholic, a platform working to reconcile feminism and Catholicism that hosted their first conference in March 2019. Sam is a corporate working mom of two, a Notre Dame grad, and transplant to Chicago.

Read Samantha’s letter on Catholic Feminism here.

Tell us about your relationship with Mary: When did you start getting to know her? How has she interceded or shown up for you? What's your relationship like with her today?

When I was a little girl, I knew that Catholics revered Mary, and I think in my childlike simplicity I was able to really admire her. As I got older though, I found it harder to relate to Mary. I was becoming bold and loud and driven, and for the most part I only saw Mary portrayed as gentle, meek, and mild. I remember one time asking my mom, who has a huge devotion to Mary, how she got close to her. My mom said that becoming a mother herself really helped her relate to Mary. Now being a mom myself, I think it’s easier to desire that relationship with Mary, because I know she understands the struggles of mom life; we have something in common.  

But something that really changed the way I thought about Mary happened a few years ago. In a season where I was really struggling, I had decided to go to in adoration chapel here in Chicago. In the chapel there was this statue of Mary like the Pieta, except Mary was looking up in agony, Holding Jesus in her arms. That day, looking at that statute it just hit me how deeply Mary suffered – and the incredible, fierce faith she had through everything God asked of her. I think growing up it was hard to relate to her because I just saw her as this perfect, meek and obedient woman, But there’s something about realizing how much someone has suffered that also demonstrates how incredibly strong and brave they are – that was the revelation I had about Mary. After that, I have felt so much more able to admire her and ask for her intercession. Sometimes there are things I want to pray about that are just easier to share with a woman, ha!

The Church tells us to look Mary for encouragement to become all that God made us to be. What aspect of Mary's humanity (or one of her virtues) resonates most with you or inspires you?

Mary’s obedience is an incredible inspiration to me, now that I understand it better. I used to think her obedience was almost some kind of weakness or pre-programmed thing. But as I have learned more about her, and prayed about it, I realized that her obedience in some ways may be her fiercest quality – because obedience is the thing that, no matter what, can overcome the depths of evil. No matter what evil feelings, thoughts, or experiences the devil is able to throw at us, obedience can overcome all of them. That’s what Mary shows us. It’s the greatest power, truly. 

Mary has been a popular subject for artists for centuries. What's your favorite image of her?

I think the image of the Seven Sorrows of Mary is so important because it’s a testament to how much she suffered and how courageous she was. 


If the idea of a relationship with Mary was foreign or uncomfortable, what or who encouraged you to take a second look?

Besides my mom, my husband also has always had a great devotion to Mary, and that really inspired me. He really made me want to get to know her better. 

What would you recommend to women looking to start or deepen their friendship with the Blessed Mother?

I recommend the book Walking With Mary by Dr. Sri. It’s an easy read but I found it so insightful, especially in helping Mary seem more “human” to me.

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