the Virgin Mary

Mary of Nazareth

Mary, Virgin of the Passion

Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai, Egypt, 16th century
Blessed Virgin Mary Theotokos ("Mother of God") Saint Mary
Bornunknown; celebrated 8 September,
Diedunknown; See Assumption of Mary
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Eastern Catholic Churches, Anglo-Catholicism, and certain Protestant denominations
Major shrinesee Shrines to the Virgin Mary
FeastMary is commemorated on as many as 25 different days. The most universally observed are: 25 March - The Annunciation 15 August - The Assumption

Mary (Judeo-Aramaic: מרים, Maryām, from Hebrew Miriam), called since medieval times Madonna (My Lady), resident in Nazareth in Galilee, is known from the New Testament[1] as the mother of Jesus of Nazareth, whom as a young maiden she had conceived by the agency of the Holy Spirit whilst she was already the betrothed wife of Joseph of the House of David and awaiting their imminent formal "Home-taking" ceremony (the concluding Jewish wedding rite). To many believers the accounts in the canonical "Birth narratives" suggest that she had still been a virgin at the time of the child's conception as well as at his birth.[2] The New Testament also recounts her presence at important stages during her son's adult life and in the early Church (e.g. at the Wedding at Cana, at his crucifixion, during communal prayers in the Upper Room).

Stories of her life are further elaborated in later Christian apocryphal and Islamic traditions, their best known detail being the alleged names of her parents: Joachim and Anne.

Christian churches teach various doctrines concerning Mary, and she is the subject of much veneration. The area of Christian theology concerning her is known as Mariology. The conception of her son Jesus is believed to have been an act of the Holy Spirit, and to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah that a virgin (or maiden) would bear a son who would be called Immanuel ("God with us").[3] The Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches venerate her as the Ever-Virgin Mother of God (Theotokos), who was specially favoured by God's grace (Catholics hold that she was conceived without original sin) and, when her earthly life had been completed, was assumed into Heaven. Some Protestants, including certain Anglicans, Methodists and Lutherans, embrace veneration of Mary and also hold some of these doctrines. Others, especially in the Reformed tradition, question or even condemn the devotional and doctrinal position of Mary in the above traditions. Mary also holds a revered position in Islam.

Enlarge picture
Moses and the Burning Bush by Nicolas Froment (1476) showing the apparition in the Burning Bush as the Blessed Virgin in a bower of flaming roses.


Enlarge picture
Our Lady of Vladimir, one of the holiest medieval representations of the Theotokos.
Main articles: Blessed Virgin Mary and Theotokos
Mary's most common titles include The Blessed Virgin Mary (also abbreviated to "BVM"), Our Lady (Notre Dame, Nuestra Señora, Nossa Senhora, Madonna), Mother of God, and the Queen of Heaven (Regina Caeli).

Mary is referred to by the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodoxy and all Eastern Catholic Churches as Theotokos, a title recognized at the Third Ecumenical Council (held at Ephesus to address the teachings of Nestorius, in 431). Theotokos (and its Latin equivalents, "Deipara" and "Dei genetrix") literally means "Godbearer". The equivalent phrase "Mater Dei" (Mother of God) is more common in Latin and so also in the other languages used in the Western Catholic Church, but this same phrase in Greek, in the abbreviated form of the first and last letter of the two words (ΜΡ ΘΥ), is the indication attached to her image in Byzantine icons. The Council stated that the Church Fathers "did not hesitate to speak of the holy Virgin as the Mother of God",[4] so as to emphasize that Mary's child, Jesus Christ, is in fact God.

Ancient Sources

New Testament

Little is known of Mary's personal history from the New Testament. She was a relative of Elizabeth, wife of the priest Zechariah of the priestly division of Abijah, who herself was of the lineage of Aaron and so of the tribe of Levi.[5] In spite of this, some speculate that Mary, like Joseph, to whom she was betrothed, was of the House of David and so of the tribe of Judah, and that the genealogy presented in Luke was hers, while Joseph's is given in Matthew.[6] She resided at Nazareth in Galilee, presumably with her parents, and during her betrothal – the first stage of a Jewish marriage - the angel Gabriel announced to her that she was to be the mother of the promised Messiah by conceiving him through the Holy Spirit.[7] When Joseph was told of her conception in a dream by "an angel of the Lord", he was surprised; but the angel told him to be unafraid and take her as his wife, which Joseph did, thereby formally completing the wedding rites.[8]

Enlarge picture
Visitation, from Altarpiece of the Virgin (St Vaast Altarpiece) by Jacques Daret

Since the angel had told Mary that Elizabeth, having previously been barren, was now miraculously pregnant, Mary hurried to visit Elizabeth, who was living with her husband Zechariah in a city of Judah "in the hill country".[9] Once Mary arrived at the house and greeted Elizabeth, Elizabeth proclaimed Mary as "the mother of [her] Lord", and Mary recited a song of thanksgiving commonly known as the Magnificat from its first word in Latin.[10] After three months, Mary returned to her house.[11] According to the Gospel of Luke, a decree of the Roman emperor Augustus required that Joseph and his betrothed should proceed to Bethlehem for an enrollment, see Census of Quirinius. While they were there, Mary gave birth to Jesus; but because there was no place for them in the inn, she had to use a manger as a cradle.[12]

After eight days, the boy was circumcised and named Jesus, in accordance with the instructions that the "angel of the Lord" had given to Joseph after the Annunciation to Mary. These customary ceremonies were followed by Jesus' presentation to the Lord at the Temple in Jerusalem in accordance with the law for firstborn males, then the visit of the Magi, the family's flight into Egypt, their return after the death of King Herod the Great about 2/1 BC and taking up residence in Nazareth.[13] Mary apparently remained in Nazareth for some thirty years. She is involved in the only event in Jesus' adolescent life that is recorded in the New Testament: at the age of twelve, Jesus having become separated from his parents on their return journey from the Passover celebration in Jerusalem was found among the teachers in the temple.[14] Probably some time between this event and the opening of Jesus' public ministry Mary was widowed, for Joseph is not mentioned again.

Enlarge picture
"Marriage at Cana" by Giotto
After Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist and his temptations by the devil in the desert, Mary was present when Jesus worked his first public miracle at the marriage in Cana by turning water into wine at her intercession.[15] Subsequently there are events when Mary is present along with Jesus' "brothers" (James, Joseph, Simon and Judas) and unnamed "sisters".[16] Mary is also depicted as being present during the crucifixion standing near "the disciple whom Jesus loved" along with her sister Mary of Clopas (possibly identical with the mother of James the younger and Joseph mentioned in Matthew 27:55|, cf. Mark 15:40), and Mary Magdalene (John 19:25-26), to which list Matthew 27:56| adds "the mother of the sons of Zebedee", presumably the Salome mentioned in Mark 15:40, and other women who had followed Jesus from Galilee and ministered to him (mentioned in Matthew and Mark). Mary, cradling the dead body of her Son, while not recorded in the Gospel accounts, is a common motif in art, called a "pietà" or "pity".

According to Acts, Mary is the only one of about 120 people gathered, after the Ascension, in the Upper Room on the occasion of the election of Matthias to the vacancy of Judas, to be mentioned by name, other than the twelve Apostles and the candidates (Acts 1:12-26, especially v. 14; though it is said that "the women" and Jesus' "brothers" were there as well, their names are not given. From this time, she disappears from the Biblical accounts, although it is held by some Christian groups that she is again portrayed as the heavenly Woman of Revelation (Revelation 12:1).

Her death is not recorded in Scripture.

Ancient Non-Christian Sources

The Church Father Origen wrote an apologetic work refuting the claims of Celsus, a late second-century eclectic Greek philosopher and polemic writer against Christianity. Preserved in Origen's work is the claim of Celsus that Jesus was an illegitimate child of a certain Roman soldier named Panthera from Mary, who had been turned out by her husband because she was convicted of unfaithfulness.[17] These claims are related to the references in the Talmud to the figure of Ben-Pandera. According to the early third century Acts of Pilate, a Christian apocryphal work, the elders of the Jews stated to Pilate during the trial of Jesus that he had been conceived through fornication.[18]

Later Christian writings and traditions

According to the Gospel of James, which, though not part of the New Testament, contains stories about Mary considered "plausible" by some Orthodox and Catholic Christians, she was the daughter of Joachim and Anna. Before Mary's conception, Anna had been barren, and her parents were quite old when she was conceived. They gave her to service as a consecrated virgin in the Temple in Jerusalem when she was three years old, much like Hannah took Samuel to the Tabernacle as recorded in the Old Testament (Tanakh, Hebrew Bible).

Enlarge picture
Filippo F. Venuti (1896), L'Assunzione della Vergine.
According to tradition, Mary died while surrounded by the apostles (in either Jerusalem or Ephesus) between three and fifteen years after Christ's ascension. When the apostles later opened her tomb they found it empty and concluded that she had been bodily assumed into Heaven.

The House of the Virgin Mary near Ephesus, Turkey is believed by some to be the place where Mary lived until her assumption into Heaven. The Gospel of John states that Mary went to live with the Disciple whom Jesus loved (John 19:27), who is traditionally identified as John the Apostle. Irenaeus and Eusebius of Caesarea wrote in their histories that John went later to Ephesus,[19] which may provide the basis for the early belief that Mary also lived in Ephesus with John.

"Mary's Tomb", a tomb in Jerusalem, is attributed to Mary, but it was unknown until the 6th century.

Mary in the Qur'an

And We Made son of Mary and his mother a Sign ... (23:50)

Mary, mother of Jesus, enjoys a singularly distinguished and honored position amongst women in the Qur'an:

She is the only woman directly named in the Book; declared (uniquely along with Jesus) to be a Ayat Allah or Sign of God to mankind 23:50}; as one who "guarded her chastity" 66:20; an obedient one 66:12; chosen of her mother and dedicated to Allah whilst still in the womb to God 3:36; uniquely (amongst women) Accepted into service by Allah 3:37; cared for by (one of the prophets as per Islam) Zakariya (Zacharias) 3:37; that in her childhood she resided in the Temple and uniquely had access to Al-Mihrab (understood to be the Holy of Holies), and was provided with heavenly 'provisions' by Allah 3:37; a Chosen One 3:42; a Purified One 3:42; a Truthful one 5:75; a fulfillment of Prophecy 66:12; a vessel for the Spirit of God breathed into her 66:12; her child conceived through "a Word from God" 3:45; and "exalted above all women of The Worlds/Universes" 3:42.

The Qur'an relates detailed narrative accounts of Maryam (Mary) in two places Sura 3 and Sura 91 3:35-47 and 91:16-34.

The account given in Sura 19 19:1 The Qur'an is nearly identical with that in the Gospel according to Luke, and both of these (Luke, Sura 19) begin with an account of the visitation of an angel upon Zakariya (Zecharias) and Good News of the birth of Yahya (John), followed by the account of the annunciation.

The account in Sura 33:1 of the Qur'an tracks the accounts in Apocrypha, namely the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew and the Gospel of James, regarding the use of "rods" to determine a guardian/husband after she reached the age of puberty 3:44, and, the account of the scandal caused upon the discovery of her with child 19:27, neither of which are recorded in the canonical Gospels.

Christian and Muslim Marian Doctrines

Immaculate Conception of Mary

Main article: Immaculate Conception

Roman Catholics believe in the Immaculate Conception of Mary, namely that she was filled with grace from the very moment of her conception in her mother's womb and preserved from the stain of original sin. The Roman Rite of the Catholic Church has a liturgical feast by that name, kept on 8 December.

The corresponding feast in other rites may go by other names, such as, in the Byzantine Rite, the Feast of the Conception by St. Anna of the Most Holy Theotokos. However, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception is part of the teaching of the Catholic Church, and the title of "The Immaculate Conception" has been given to many Eastern Catholic church buildings, including the cathedral in Detroit of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.[20]

Eastern Orthodox tend to reject the Immaculate Conception, principally because their understanding of ancestral sin (the Greek term corresponding to the Latin "original sin") differs from that of the Roman Catholic Church, but also on the basis that without original sin (i.e. fallen human nature), Mary would have likewise been separated from the rest of us by a special condition. Some Orthodox believe that Mary was conceived like any one of us, inherited the sin of Adam, but was cleansed from it when Christ (God incarnate) took form within her. This, coupled with the belief that she never committed any sin made her the perfect vessel. Nevertheless, this remains an area on which the Orthodox Church has not made any definitive statement, so a variety of views may be found.

Most Protestants reject the idea that Mary was saved from sin from her very first moment, since this is impossible according to Protestant theology and, in their view, lacks scriptural warrant. Catholics may argue that nothing is impossible by God, and the Annunciation seems to imply she was perserved without sin.

Virgin Birth of Jesus

Enlarge picture
Mary, depicted as Virgin of Guadalupe
Main article: Virgin Birth of Jesus

The Apostles' Creed and Nicene Creed both refer to Mary as "the Virgin Mary". This alludes to the belief that Mary conceived Jesus through the action of God the Holy Spirit, and not through intercourse with Joseph or anyone else. That she was a virgin at this time is affirmed by Eastern Christianity, Roman Catholicism and many Protestants. Rejection of this is considered heretical by virtually all traditional Christian groups.

The Gospel of Matthew describes Mary as a virgin who fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14. The Hebrew word almah that appears in this verse, and the Greek word parthenos that Jews used to translate it in the Greek Septuagint that Matthew quotes here, have been the subjects of dispute for almost two millennia. This disagreement is related to the question of whether Isaiah 7:14 is a prophecy of Jesus' birth. Regardless of the meaning of this verse, it is clear that the authors of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke consider Jesus' conception not the result of intercourse and assert that Mary had "no relations with man" before Jesus' birth.[21]

People who are neither Christian nor Muslim generally doubt that Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus. In the second century, the polemicist Celsus (recorded in Origen's Contra Celsum 1.28-32) claimed that Mary had relations with a Roman soldier and then married Joseph who protected her from the harsh Jewish laws of the time which would have sentenced her to death by stoning for such an act.[22]

Some scholars of the historical Jesus deny the Virgin Birth, regarding the nativity of Jesus to be an early Christian story invented to liken Jesus to Moses (the Massacre of the Innocents) and to show him fulfilling prophecy (the return from Egypt, etc.). Fellows of the Jesus Seminar almost unanimously agreed that Mary conceived Jesus through natural means, namely sexual intercourse with a man. They speculate that the father could have been "Joseph or some unknown male who either seduced or raped the young Mary".[23]

Other scholars, such as Bart D. Ehrman, suggest the historical method can never comment on the likelihood of supernatural occurrences. While parthenogenesis (virginal conception) is not unknown in lower animals, it does not occur naturally in human beings or other mammals, and produces females only, genetical clones of the mother.

As Mary is portrayed as a model for Christians, her being both a virgin and a mother is showing God giving us two choices: to remain chaste (the Holy Orders) or to become parents.

Virgin birth of Jesus in the Qur'an

The Qur'an says that Jesus was the result of a virgin birth. The most detailed account of the annunciation and birth of Jesus is provided in Sura 3 and 19 of The Qur'an wherein it is written that God sent an angel to announce that she could shortly expect to bear a son, despite being a virgin:
(Remember) When the angels said O Mary! Allah Gives thee Good News of a son through a Word from Him! His name shall be the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, honoured in this world and in the next, and of those who Are Granted Nearness to Allah! (3.45)
And he shall speak to the people in the cradle, and when of middle age, and he shall be of The Righteous (3.46)
She said My Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has touched me? He Said, That is as it shall be. Allah Creates what He Pleases. When HE decrees a thing HE says to it "Be" and it is! (3.47)

Perpetual virginity

Those who believe that Mary remained a virgin after the birth of Jesus, including Eastern and Oriental Orthodox and Roman Catholics (and thus an absolute majority of Christians),[24] put forward the following considerations on the question.[25] The New Testament has several references to the "brothers" and "sisters"[26] of Jesus, who, however, are nowhere referred to as Mary's children. Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus and his disciples, lacked a specific word for "cousin", so that the word "brother" was used instead. This is true also of Hebrew, and there are several places in the Old Testament that use the word "brother" to mean nephew or cousin.[27] Accordingly, the Hebrew word for "brother" is often translated in modern English versions of the Bible by such words as "kinsman". The same holds for Biblical Greek. While classical Greek had specific words for relations, whether generic, such as συγγενῆς (kinsman), or particular, such as ἀνεψιός (a word that originally meant "cousin", but that then took on the meaning of "nephew"), the word ἀδελφός (brother) is frequently used in Biblical Greek instead of both classes of words. The account of the loss of the twelve-year-old Jesus in Jerusalem (Luke 2:41-52) is interpreted to mean that Jesus was an only child.[28] When dying on the cross, Jesus , an action interpreted as signifying that Mary had no other children,[29] since if there were any, one would have expected them to take her into their home.[30] Some interpret the reference to "brothers" of Jesus as a reference to cousins, since two of them are held to be sons of another Mary described as a "sister"[31] of Jesus' mother. Another proposed explanation is that Jesus' "brothers" were sons of Joseph by a previous wife; these stepbrothers of Jesus would have been regarded as his half-brothers by the people who knew them and who, unaware of Jesus' divine origin, assumed him to be Joseph's son. Belief in the perpetual virginity of Mary was so firmly held that, at the time of the Protestant Reformation, two of its most prominent leaders of the Reformation, Luther and Zwingli also defended the teaching,[32] and John Calvin argued against the necessity of seeing Jesus' "ἀδελφοί" (brothers) as Mary's sons.[33] John Wesley too wrote: "I believe that He (Jesus) was ... born of the blessed Virgin Mary, who, as well after as before she brought Him forth, continued a pure and unspotted virgin."[34]

Despite the beliefs of these Reformers, by the 17th century the Catholic and Protestant churches came to see Mary as a major point of division, and Protestant theologians began arguing that Mary did not remain a virgin and that the "brothers" of Jesus were indeed his biological half-brothers, sons of Mary and Joseph; arguing that the word for "brother" is distinct in Greek from the word for "cousin", also used in the New Testament (ανεψιος, Col. 4.10), [35] Some Catholics reply that in Biblical usage "brother" has a wider semantic range than in English and might mean cousin, or that Joseph may have been a widower, making the brothers step-brothers.[36] It is also said[37] that Jesus' brothers were not believers (John 7:5) until after the resurrection (Acts 1:14), so some believe Jesus entrusted Mary to the beloved disciple (traditionally St. John), for that reason. The Church Fathers pointed to the following as demonstrating Mary's perpetual virginity:
And the Lord said to me; This gate shall be closed, it shall not be opened, and no man shall come through it, for the Lord God of Israel comes through it, and it shall be closed. (Ezekiel 44:2)

Muslims also believe that Mary remained a virgin for her entire life.

Enlarge picture
This painting, attributed to Bartolome Murillo, depicts Mary's Assumption into heaven with her body and soul.

Dormition and Assumption

Main article: Assumption of Mary

For Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholics alike Mary's assumption into heaven is seen as an instance of the resurrection of the body.

In Roman Catholicism

The belief in the corporeal assumption of Mary was formally declared to be dogma by Pope Pius XII in 1950. Pope Pius XII states in Munificentissimus Deus: "[W]e pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory. Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith." This is an example of an invocation of papal infallibility.

The Feast of the Assumption is celebrated on August 15.

Enlarge picture
Statue of Santa Marija Assunta, by Attard, Malta.

The promulgated dogma is not worded so as to force the issue as to whether she experienced death prior to her Assumption, as there is held to be no theological basis for doing so. As stated by Ludwig Ott (Bk. III, Pt. 3, Ch. 2, §6) "the fact of her death is almost generally accepted by the Fathers and Theologians, and is expressly affirmed in the Liturgy of the Church", to which he adduces a number of helpful citations, and concludes that "for Mary, death, in consequence of her freedom from original sin and from personal sin, was not a consequence of punishment of sin. However, it seems fitting that Mary's body, which was by nature mortal, should be, in conformity with that of her Divine Son, subject to the general law of death." In keeping with the historical consensus of the Church, Pius XII himself almost certainly rejected the notion of Mary's "immortality" (the idea that she never suffered death), preferring the more widely accepted understanding that her assumption took place after her physical death.

In Eastern Christianity

In the Eastern Orthodox, Eastern Catholic and Oriental Orthodox traditions, the Ever-Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, died, after having lived a holy life. Eastern Christians do not believe in the immaculate conception, on the contrary believing that she was the best example of a human lifestyle. Eleven of the apostles were present and conducted the funeral. St Thomas was delayed and arrived a few days later. Wanting to venerate the body, the tomb was opened for St Thomas. It was revealed that the body of the Theotokos was gone. It was their conclusion that she had been taken, body and soul into heaven. While every Orthodox Christian believes this to be true, the Orthodox have never formally made it a doctrine. It remains a holy mystery. The Eastern Orthodox and Greek-Catholics celebrate this event on the 15th of August. The Oriental Orthodox celebrate it on August 22. The feast day of the Dormition ("falling asleep") of the Theotokos is preceded by a two week fasting period.

Anglican Recognition of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mary's special position within God's purpose of salvation as "God bearer" (theotokos) is recognised in a number of ways by some Anglican Christians. The Church affirms in the historic creeds that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, and celebrates the feast days of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. This feast is called in older prayer books the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary on 2 February. The Annunciation of our Lord to the Blessed Virgin on March 25 was from before the time of Saint Bede until the 18th century New Year's Day in England. The Annunciation is called the "Annunciation of our Lady" in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. Anglicans also celebrate in the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin on May 31, though in some provinces the traditional date of July 2 is kept. The feast of the St. Mary the Virgin is observed on the traditional day of the Assumption, August 15. The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin is kept on September 8.

The Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is kept in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, on December 8. In certain Anglo-Catholic parishes this feast is called the Immaculate Conception. Again, the Assumption of Mary is believed in by most Anglo-Catholics, but is in considered a pious opinion by moderate Anglicans. Protestant minded Anglicans reject the celebration of these feasts.

Prayer to and with the Blessed Virgin Mary varies according to churchmanship. Low Church Anglicans rarely invoke the Blessed Virgin except in certain hymns, such as the second stanza of Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones. Anglo-Catholics, however, frequently pray the rosary, the Angelus, Regina Caeli, and other litanies and anthems of Our Lady. The Anglican Society of Mary maintains chapters in many countries. The purpose of the society is to foster devotion to Mary among Anglicans.

Christian Veneration of Mary

Enlarge picture
The oldest-known image of Mary depicts her nursing the Infant Jesus. Catacomb of Priscilla, Rome (2nd century)
Catholic, Orthodox and some Anglican Christians venerate Mary, as do the non-Chalcedonian or Oriental Orthodox, a communion of churches that has been traditionally deemed monophysite (such as the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt and the Ethiopian Tewahedo Church). This veneration especially takes the form of prayer for intercession with her Son, Jesus Christ. Additionally it includes composing poems and songs in Mary's honor, painting icons or carving statues of her, and conferring titles on Mary that reflect her position among the saints. She is also one of the most highly venerated saints in both the Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox Churches; several major feast days are devoted to her each year. (See Liturgical year.)

Protestants have generally paid only a small amount of reverence to the Blessed Virgin compared to their Anglican, Catholic, and Orthodox counterparts, often arguing that if too much attention is focused on Mary, there is a danger of detracting from the worship due to God alone.

Enlarge picture
Virgin and Child. Wall painting from the catacombs, Rome (4th century).

By contrast, certain documents of the Second Vatican Council, such as chapter VIII of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium [1] describe Mary as higher than all other created beings, even angels: "she far surpasses all creatures, both in heaven and on earth"; but still in the final analysis, a created being, solely human - not divine - in her nature. On this showing, Catholic traditionalists would argue that there is no conflation [2] of the human and divine levels in their veneration of Mary.

The major origin and impetus of veneration of Mary comes from the Christological controversies of the early church - many debates denying in some way the divinity or humanity of Jesus Christ. So not only would one side affirm that Jesus was indeed God, but would assert the conclusion that Mary was "Mother of God", although some Protestants prefer to use the term "God-bearer". Catholics and Protestants agree however, that "Mother of God" is not intended to imply that Mary in any way gave Jesus his Divinity. Both Catholics and Orthodox, and especially Anglicans, make a clear distinction between such veneration (which is also due to the other saints) and adoration which is due to God alone. (The term worship is used by some theologians to subsume both sacrificial worship and worship of praise, e.g. Orestes Brownson in his book Saint Worship. The word "worship", while commonly used in place of "adoration" in the modern English vernacular, strictly speaking implies nothing more than the acknowledgement of "worth-ship" or worthiness, and thus means no more than the giving of honor where honor is due (e.g. the use of "Your Worship" as a form of address to judges in certain English legal traditions). "Worship" has never been used in this sense in Catholic literature when referring to the veneration of the Blessed Virgin). Mary, they point out, is not divine, and has only such powers to help as are granted to her by God in response to her prayers. Such miracles as may occur through Mary's intercession are ultimately the result of God's love and omnipotence. Traditionally, Catholic theologians have distinguished three forms of honor: latria, due only to God, and usually translated by the English word adoration; hyperdulia, accorded only to the Blessed Virgin Mary, usually translated simply as veneration; and dulia, accorded to the rest of the saints, also usually translated as veneration. The Orthodox distinguish between worship and veneration but do not use the "hyper"-veneration terminology when speaking of the Theotokos. Protestants tend to consider "dulia" too similar to "latria".

Enlarge picture
Gabriel making the Annunciation to Mary. Painting by El Greco (1575)
The surge in the veneration of Mary in the High Middle Ages owes some of its initial impetus to Bernard of Clairvaux. Bernard expanded upon Anselm of Canterbury's role in transmuting the sacramental ritual Christianity of the Early Middle Ages into a new, more personally held faith, with the life of Christ as a model and a new emphasis on the Virgin Mary. In opposition to the rationalist approach to divine understanding that the schoolmen adopted, Bernard preached an immediate faith, in which the intercessor was the Virgin Mary; "the Virgin that is the royal way, by which the Savior comes to us." Bernard played the leading role in the development of the Virgin cult, which is one of the most important manifestations of the popular piety of the twelfth century. In early medieval thought the Virgin Mary had played a minor role, and it was only with the rise of emotional Christianity in the eleventh century that she became the prime intercessor for humanity with the deity. (Cantor 1993 p 341)

Some early Protestants venerated and honored Mary. Martin Luther said Mary is "the highest woman", that "we can never honour her enough", that "the veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart", and that Christians should "wish that everyone know and respect her". John Calvin said, "It cannot be denied that God in choosing and destining Mary to be the Mother of his Son, granted her the highest honor." Zwingli said, "I esteem immensely the Mother of God", and, "The more the honor and love of Christ increases among men, so much the esteem and honor given to Mary should grow". Thus the idea of respect and high honour was not rejected by the first Protestants; but, they came to criticize the Catholics for blurring the line, between high admiration of the grace of God wherever it is seen in a human being, and religious service given to another creature. The Catholic practice of celebrating saints' days and making intercessory requests addressed especially to Mary and other departed saints they considered (and consider) to be idolatry. With the exception of some portions of the Anglican Communion, Protestantism usually follows the reformers in rejecting the practice of directly addressing Mary and other saints in prayers of admiration or petition, as part of their religious worship of God. Protestants will not typically call the respect or honor that they may have for Mary veneration because of the special religious significance that this term has in the Catholic practice.

Today's Protestants acknowledge that Mary is "blessed among women" (Luke 1:42) but they do not agree that Mary is to be venerated. She is considered to be an outstanding example of a life dedicated to God. Indeed the word that she uses to describe herself in Luke 1:38 (usually translated as "bond-servant" or "slave")[38] refers to someone whose will is consumed by the will of another - in this case Mary's will is consumed by God's. Rather than granting Mary any kind of "dulia", Protestants note that her role in Scripture seems to diminish - after the birth of Jesus she is hardly mentioned. From this it may be said that her attitude paralleled that of John the Baptist who said "He must become greater; I must become less" (John 3:30)

Joint Anglican-Roman Catholic document

On May 16, 2005, the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches issued a joint 43-page statement, "Mary: Hope and Grace in Christ" (also known as the Seattle Statement) on the role of the Virgin Mary in Christianity as a way to uphold ecumenical cooperation despite differences over other matters. The document was released in Seattle, Washington, by Alexander Brunett, the local Catholic Archbishop, and Peter Carnley, Anglican Archbishop of Perth, Western Australia, co-chairmen of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC).

The joint document is said to seek a common understanding to help both churches agree on the theological reasoning behind the Catholic dogmas, despite Anglicans not accepting the papal authority that underpins them. Carnley has reportedly said that Anglican concerns that dogmas about Mary are not provable by scripture would "disappear", with the document discussing that Anglicans would stop opposition to Roman Catholic teachings of the Immaculate Conception (defined in 1854) and the Assumption of Mary (defined in 1950) as being "consonant" with the Biblical teachings.

Cinematic Portrayals

Mary has been portrayed in several films:

See also


1. ^ See 18-25&src=! Matthew 1:16, 18-25 and 2:1-7&src=! Luke 1:26-56, 2:1-7.
2. ^ See 25&src=! Matthew 1:18, 25 and Luke 1:34-35.
3. ^ The Hebrew text is ambiguous as to whether the woman in question is a "young woman" or a "virgin"; Matthew, following the Jewish Septuagint translation into Greek gives "virgin" unambiguously.
4. ^ Denziger §111a
5. ^ Luke 1:5 and Luke 1:36
6. ^ (1990) New Bible Dictionary. Inter-varsity Press. ISBN 0851106307. 
7. ^ An event described by Christians as the Annunciation,Luke 1:35.
8. ^ Matthew 1:18-25 - Matthew's account of the Nativity of Jesus.
9. ^ Luke 1:39.
10. ^ Luke 1:46-56.
11. ^ Luke 1:56-57.
12. ^ Luke 2:1 and following.
13. ^ Matthew 2.
14. ^ Luke 2:41-52.
15. ^ John 2:1-11.
16. ^ Matthew 13:54–56 ; Mark 6:3; Acts 1:14 . These are also described as "relatives", see below.
17. ^ Origen, Contra Celsum 1.28, 1.32
18. ^ Acts of Pilate 2, "And Pilate, calling these twelve men who said that He was not born of fornication, says to them: I adjure you by the health of Caesar, to tell me whether it be true that you say, that he was not born of fornication. They say to Pilate: We have a law against taking oaths, because it is a sin; but they will swear by the health of Caesar, that it is not as we have said, and we are liable to death. Pilate says to Annas and Caiaphas: Have you nothing to answer to this? Annas and Caiaphas say to Pilate: These twelve are believed when they say that he was not born of fornication; all the multitude of us cry out that he was born of fornication, and that he is a sorcerer, and he says that he is the Son of God and a king, and we are not believed." Roberts-Donaldson translation
19. ^ Irenaeus, Adversus haereses III,1,1; Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History, III,1
20. ^ For other Eastern Catholic churches dedicated to the Immaculate Conception in Pennsylvania alone, see The Unofficial Directory of Eastern Catholic Churches in Pennsylvania
21. ^ Matthew 1:18|, Matthew 1:25|, Luke 1:34|
22. ^ Also see: Illegitimacy of Jesus: A Feminist Theological Interpretation of the Infancy Narratives (Biblical Seminar Series, No 28), Jane Schaberg, ISBN 1-85075-533-7.
23. ^ Robert W. Funk and the Jesus Seminar. The Acts of Jesus: The Search for the Authentic Deeds of Jesus. HarperSanFrancisco: 1998. p. 533
24. ^ [3]
25. ^ Fr. John Hainsworth, The Ever-Virginity of the Mother of God, from Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, retrieved May 2007; Why is Mary Considered Ever-Virgin? from Orthodox Christian Information Center, retrieved May 2007; William Saunders, "Brothers and Sisters of Jesus", from, retrieved May 2007; "Mary: Virgin and Ever Virgin", from, retrieved May 2007; Father Mateo-Catholic Information Network, "Our Lady's Lifelong Virginity: Some Answers",, retrieved May 2007
26. ^ Matthew 13:56 and Mark 6:3
27. ^ Jason Evert, "How To Explain The Perpetual Virginity of Mary", from, retrieved May 2007
28. ^ Why is Mary Considered Ever-Virgin?
29. ^ Why is Mary Considered Ever-Virgin?; Perpetual Virginity of Mary; Was Mary a Perpetual Virgin?
30. ^ "It is hard to imagine why Jesus would have disregarded family ties and made this provision for his mother if these four (who are mentioned as "brothers" of Jesus) were also her sons" (If Mary is still a virgin, who are the "Brothers of the Lord"?); Jesus "would have had surviving siblings who would have taken care of her. It would be surprising for Jesus to release his brothers from their obligation to their mother, especially because he criticized the Pharisees for neglecting the support of their own parents in Matthew 15:3-6" (Was Mary a Perpetual Virgin?); etc.
31. ^ a word with the same ambiguity as "brother"
32. ^ {[4] Martin Luther, Founder of the Reform, Speaks on Mary]
33. ^ Commentary on Matthew, Mark, Luke, volume 1, volume 2
34. ^ Wesley’s Letters: 1749
35. ^ [5]
36. ^ See, for instance, If Mary is still a virgin, who are the "Brothers of the Lord"?; The "Brothers" of Jesus/Mary's Perpetual Virginity; Brethren of the Lord; Perpetual Virginity
37. ^ (1990) New Bible Dictionary. Inter-varsity Press. ISBN 0851106307. 
38. ^ Doulos - Strong's Concordance

Further reading

  • Brownson, Orestes, Saint Worship and the Worship of Mary, Sophia Institute Press, 2003, ISBN 1-928832-88-1
  • Cronin, Vincent, Mary Portrayed, London: Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd., 1968, ISBN 0-87505-213-4
  • Epie, Chantal. The Scriptural Roots of Catholic Teaching, Sophia Institute Press, 2002, ISBN 1-928832-53-9
  • Graef, Hilda. Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion, London: Sheed & Ward, 1985, ISBN 0-7220-5221-9
  • Marley, Stephen, The Life of the Virgin Mary, Lennard Publishing, 1990, ISBN 1852910240
  • Miravalle, Mark. Introduction to Mary, Queenship Publishing, 1993, Second Edition 2006, soft, 220 pages ISBN 1-882972-06-6
  • Newman, Barbara. God and the Goddesses, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003, ISBN 0812219112
  • Pelikan, Jaroslav. Mary Through the Centuries: Her Place in the History of Culture, Yale University Press, 1998, hardcover, 240 pages ISBN 0-300-06951-0; trade paperback, 1998, 240 pages, ISBN 0-300-07661-4
  • Visions and prophecies of the Divine Feminine, Melbourne: Noyce Publishing, 2006
  • Fox, Fr. Robert J., Catechism on Mary, Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mary Through the Ages Fatima Family Apostolate

External links

The Blessed Virgin Mary, sometimes shortened to The Blessed Virgin or The Virgin Mary, is a traditional title specifically used by Roman Catholics, Anglicans, some Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholics, and others to describe Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.
..... Click the link for more information.
Virgin Mary may refer to:

In religion:
  • Mary (mother of Jesus), the historical and multi-denominational concept of Mary
  • Blessed Virgin Mary, also known as Saint Mary, the Roman Catholic theological and doctrinal concept of Mary

..... Click the link for more information.
Besides the Virgin Mary, there are other saints named Saint Mary. These include:
  • Mary of Egypt
  • Mary of Alexandria (Marina, Marinus)
  • Mary Frances of the Five Wounds of Jesus
  • Mary Yi Yon-hui of the Korean Martyrs

See also

..... Click the link for more information.
State Party  Egypt
Type Cultural
Criteria i, iii, iv, vi
Reference 954
Region Arab States

Inscription History
Inscription 2002  (26th Session)
..... Click the link for more information.
Mount Sinai (Arabic: طور سيناء , Hebrew: הר סיני), also known as Mount Horeb, Mount Musa, Gebel Musa or Jabal Musa
..... Click the link for more information.
Gumhūriyyat Miṣr al-ʿArabiyyah
Arab Republic of Egypt

Flag Coat of arms
Bilady, Bilady, Bilady
..... Click the link for more information.
The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Roman Catholics. This doctrine was dogmatically and infallibly defined by Pope Pius XII on 1 November 1950 in his Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus.
..... Click the link for more information.

Jesus Christ
Church Theology
New Covenant Supersessionism
Apostles Kingdom Gospel
History of Christianity Timeline
Old Testament New Testament
Books Canon Apocrypha
..... Click the link for more information.
Eastern Christianity

Byzantine Empire
Ecumenical council
Baptism of Kiev
Great Schism
By region
Eastern Orthodox history
Ukraine Christian history
Asia Eastern Christian history

..... Click the link for more information.
Eastern Christianity

Byzantine Empire
Ecumenical council
Baptism of Kiev
Great Schism
By region
Eastern Orthodox history
Ukraine Christian history
Asia Eastern Christian history

..... Click the link for more information.
The terms Anglo-Catholic and Anglo-Catholicism describe people, groups, ideas, customs and practices within Anglicanism that emphasise continuity with Catholic tradition.
..... Click the link for more information.
shrine, from the Latin scrinium (‘box’; also used as a desk, like the French bureau) is originally a container, usually in precious materials, especially for a relic and often a cult image, and/or a holy or sacred place , often containing the same,
..... Click the link for more information.
shrine to the Virgin Mary or Marian shrine is a shrine marking an apparition or other miracle ascribed to the Blessed Virgin Mary, or a site on which is centered a historically strong Marian devotion. Such locales are often the destination of pilgrimages.
..... Click the link for more information.
The calendar is a traditional Christian method of organizing a liturgical year on the level of days by associating each day with one or more saints, and referring to the day as that saint's feast day.
..... Click the link for more information.
March 25 is the 1st day of the year (2nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 0 days remaining.

March 25
..... Click the link for more information.
August 15 is the 1st day of the year (2nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 0 days remaining.


  • 778 - The Battle of Roncevaux Pass, in which Roland is killed.

..... Click the link for more information.
Writing system: Aramaic abjad, Syriac abjad, Hebrew abjad, Mandaic alphabet with a handfull of inscriptions found in Demotic[2] and Chinese[3] characters.
..... Click the link for more information.
Writing system: Alefbet Ivri abjad 
Official status
Official language of:  Israel
Regulated by: Academy of the Hebrew Language

..... Click the link for more information.
Miriam was the sister of Moses.

Miriam may also refer to:

People with the given name Miriam:
Main article: Miriam (given name)

In literature:

..... Click the link for more information.
For other uses, see Nazareth (disambiguation).

Nazareth (IPA: /ˈnæzərəθ/) (Hebrew נָצְרַת, Standard Hebrew
..... Click the link for more information.
Galilee (Hebrew: הגלילha-Galil, Arabic: الجليل al-Jaleel
..... Click the link for more information.
New Testament (Greek: Καινή Διαθήκη, Kainē Diathēkē) is the name given to the final portion of the Christian Bible, written after the Old Testament.
..... Click the link for more information.
Jesus (8–2 BC/BCE to 29–36 AD/CE),[2] also known as Jesus of Nazareth, is the central figure of Christianity, and is also an important figure in several other religions.
..... Click the link for more information.

Jesus Christ
Church Theology
New Covenant Supersessionism
Apostles Kingdom Gospel
History of Christianity Timeline
Old Testament New Testament
Books Canon Apocrypha
..... Click the link for more information.
Betrothal is a formal state of engagement to be married. Historically betrothal was a formal contract, blessed or officiated by a religious authority. Betrothal is no longer common beyond some Arab cultures, in Judaism and in Hinduism.
..... Click the link for more information.
Joseph "of the House of David" (heb.יוֹסֵף also Saint Joseph, Joseph the Betrothed, Joseph of Nazareth, and Joseph the Worker
..... Click the link for more information.
Judaism considers marriage to be the ideal state of personal existence; a man without a wife, or a woman without a husband, is considered incomplete.

Classical customs

..... Click the link for more information.
Marriage at Cana is an event reported by the Gospel of John but not by any of the Synoptic Gospels. John reports that Jesus was attending a wedding in Cana with his disciples for the Jewish rite of purification.
..... Click the link for more information.
Saint Joachim was the husband of Saint Anne and the father of the Virgin Mary, and therefore is ascribed the title of "forebearer of God." The canonical Gospel accounts in the New Testament do not explicitly name either of Mary's parents, but some argue that the genealogy in Luke 3
..... Click the link for more information.
Saint Anne (also Ann or Anna) was the mother of The Virgin Mary. Her name Anne is a Greek rendering of a Hebrew name, Hannah. According to the non-canonical Gospel of James, Anne and her husband Joachim, after years of childlessness, were visited by an angel who told them that they
..... Click the link for more information.

This article is copied from an article on - the free encyclopedia created and edited by online user community. The text was not checked or edited by anyone on our staff. Although the vast majority of the wikipedia encyclopedia articles provide accurate and timely information please do not assume the accuracy of any particular article. This article is distributed under the terms of GNU Free Documentation License.