Mary is the hinge of doctrine because she is the hinge of history. God awaited her yes at the pivotal moment. Thus, St. Irenaeus in the second century called her the “cause of salvation, both to herself and the whole human race.”9 She was not the Savior, but she was indeed the “cause of salvation” and the first to be saved. Mary’s place in history, doctrine, and devotion is extraordinary, exceptional, unique. Her vocation was distinctive and singular, and she responded with unfailing fidelity. In their turn, the Fathers gave her a singular devotion—Athanasius called it “commemoration”—that developed over the centuries, expressing itself in countless ways.
— from the book Keeping Mary Close: Devotion to Our Lady Through the Ages by Mike Aquilina