From Scott Hahn's Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God
The early Christians had a lively devotion to the Blessed Virgin. We find evidence of this in their surviving literature and artwork and of course in the New Testament, which was their foundational document. While the Mariology of the first three centures was at the primitive stage of development (compared to that of a later age or even our own), it was perhaps more consciously scriptural than many later expressions, and more consistently presented in the theological context of creation, fall, incarnation and redemption. So it sometimes can speak to us with greater clarity, immediacy, and force. For Mary's role makes on sense apart from its context in salvation history; yet it is not incidental to God's plan. God chose to make His redemptive act inconceivable without her.
A number of times Candy has said that Catholics the veneration of Mary is really some type of ancient Goddess worship. But the historical facts point to the fact that the early Christians loved the Blessed Mother, honored her, were devoted to her and recognized the place God gave her in His Plan. Candy apparently is unaware or doesn't care that this evidence exists. Nonetheless, Mary's place in the early church is well documented.
Want to know more? See the Mary Page from the University of Dayton, one of the most renowned international centers of study and research about Mary, the mother of Christ, the International Marian Research Institute serving researchers and students from around the world who come to study and use the collections of The Marian Library, home of the world's largest collection of printed materials on Mary.