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Mary (mother of Jesus)

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"Nuestra Señora" redirects here. For other uses, see Nuestra Señora (disambiguation).
For the 1999 television film, see Mary, Mother of Jesus (film).
This article is an overview. For specific views, see: Ecumenical, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Islamic, Protestant, Lutheran, Anglican, and Mormon perspectives. For other uses see Saint Mary (disambiguation) and Virgin Mary (disambiguation)
Our Lady of Vladimir, one of the medieval representations of the Theotokos

According to the New Testament, Mary (Miriam: Hebrew: מרים‎; c. 15 BC – c. 48 AD), also known as St Mary the Virgin, the Blessed Virgin Mary,[1] Saint Mary, Mary the Mother of God,[1] or the Virgin Mary—amongst other titles, styles and honorifics—was a Galilean[2] woman of Nazareth and the mother of Jesus.[Mt 1:16,18-25][Lk 1:26-56][2:1-7]

The gospels of Matthew and Luke in the New Testament describe Mary as a virgin (Greek: παρθένος, parthénos)[3][4] and Christians believe that she conceived her son while a virgin by the Holy Spirit. This took place when she was already betrothed to Joseph and was awaiting the concluding rite of marriage, the formal home-taking ceremony.[5] She married Joseph and accompanied him to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born.[6] According to ancient Jewish custom, Mary could have been betrothed at about 12,[7] however, there is no direct evidence of Mary's age at betrothal or in pregnancy.

The Gospel of Luke begins its account of Mary's life with the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel appeared to her and announced her divine selection to be the mother of Jesus. According to gospel accounts, Mary was present at the Crucifixion of Jesus and is depicted as a member of the early Christian community in Jerusalem. According to Apocryphal writings, at some time soon after her death, her incorrupt body was assumed directly into Heaven, to be reunited with her soul, and the apostles thereupon found the tomb empty; this is known in Christian teaching as the Assumption.[8][9]

Mary has been venerated since Early Christianity,[10][11] and is considered by millions to be the most meritorious saint of the religion. The Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran Churches believe that Mary, as Mother of Jesus, is the Mother of God and the Theotokos, literally "Giver of birth to God". There is significant diversity in the Marian beliefs and devotional practices of major Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church holds distinctive Marian dogmas; namely her status as the mother of God; her Immaculate Conception; her perpetual virginity; and her Assumption into heaven.[12] Many Protestants minimize Mary's role within Christianity, based on the argued brevity of biblical references.[13] Mary (Maryam) also has a revered position in Islam, where a whole chapter of the Qur'an is devoted to her, also describing the birth of Jesus.[14]


Virgin and Child with angels and Sts. George and Theodore. Icon from around 600, from Saint Catherine's Monastery.

The New Testament name was based on the original Aramaic name ܡܪܝܡ Maryam or Mariam.[15] The English name "Mary" comes from the Greek Μαρία, which is a shortened form of Μαριάμ. Both Μαρία and Μαριάμ appear in the New Testament.

In Christianity, Mary is commonly referred to as the Virgin Mary, in accordance with the belief that she conceived Jesus miraculously through the Holy Spirit without her husband's involvement. Among her many other names and titles are Saint Mary, Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God in Western churches, Theotokos in Orthodox Christianity, and Maryam, mother of Isa, in Islam.

New Testament

The Annunciation by Eustache Le Sueur, an example of 17th-century Marian art. The Angel Gabriel announces to Mary her pregnancy with Jesus and offers her White Lilies.


The New Testament tells little of Mary's early history. John 19:25 states that Mary had a sister also named Mary, but is likely a sister-in-law, the wife of Joseph's brother, Clopas (Cleophas), according to the early 2nd century historian, Hegesippus.[18]

According to the writer of Luke, Mary was a relative of Elizabeth, wife of the priest Zechariah of the priestly division of Abijah, who was herself part of the lineage of Aaron and so of the tribe of Levi.[Luke 1:5;1:36] Some of those who consider that the relationship with Elizabeth was on the maternal side, consider 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 of Jesus presented in Luke 3 from Nathan, third son of David and Bathsheba, is in fact the genealogy of Mary,[need quotation to verify] while the genealogy from Solomon given in Matthew 1 is that of Joseph.[19][20] (Aaron's wife Elisheba was of the tribe of Judah, so all their descendants are from both Levi and Judah.)[Num.1:7 & Ex.6:23]


The Virgin's first seven steps, mosaic from Chora Church, c. 12th century
Main article: Annunciation

Mary resided in "her own house"[Lk.1:56] in Nazareth in Galilee, possibly 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, and she responded, "I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done unto me according to your word."[21] After a number of months, 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.[22][Mt 1:18-25]

Since the angel Gabriel had told Mary (according to Luke 1:36) that Elizabeth—having previously been barren—was then miraculously pregnant, Mary hurried to see Elizabeth, who was living with her husband Zechariah in "Hebron, in the hill country of Judah".[23] Mary arrived at the house and greeted Elizabeth who called Mary "the mother of my Lord", and Mary spoke the words of praise that later became known as the Magnificat from her first word in the Latin version.[Luke 1:46-55] After about three months, Mary returned to her own house.[Lk 1:56-57]


Main article: Nativity of Jesus

According to the Gospel of Luke, a decree of the Roman Emperor Augustus required that Joseph return to his hometown of Bethlehem to be taxed. While he was there with Mary, she gave birth to Jesus; but because there was no place for them in the inn, she used a manger as a cradle.[24]:p.14 [2:1ff] After eight days, he was circumcised according to Jewish law, and named "Jesus" (Hebrew: Yeshua ישוע‎), which means "Yahweh is salvation".[25]

After Mary continued in the "blood of her purifying" another 33 days for a total of 40 days, she brought her burnt offering and sin offering to the Temple in Jerusalem,[Luke 2:22] so the priest could make atonement for her sins, being cleansed from her blood.[Leviticus 12:1-8] They also presented Jesus – "As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord" (Luke 2:23other verses). After the prophecies of Simeon and the prophetess Anna in Luke 2:25-38 concluded, Joseph and Mary took Jesus and "returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth".[Luke 2:39]

Sometime later, the Magi arrived at the house where Jesus and his family were staying. They fled by night to Egypt and stayed there for a while; then, after Herod's death in 4 BC, they returned and took up residence in Nazareth.[Mat.2]

In the life of Jesus

Mary 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 in the Temple among the religious teachers.[26]:p.210 [Lk 2:41-52]

Mary was present when, at her suggestion, Jesus worked his first miracle during a wedding at Cana by turning water into wine.[Jn 2:1-11] Subsequently there are events when Mary is present along with James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas, called Jesus' brothers, and unnamed sisters.[27] Following Jerome, the Church Fathers interpreted the words translated as "brother" and "sister" as referring to close relatives.[28][29]

The hagiography of Mary and the Holy Family can be contrasted with other material in the Gospels. These references include an incident which can be interpreted as Jesus rejecting his family in the New Testament: "And his mother and his brothers arrived, and standing outside, they sent in a message asking for him ... And looking at those who sat in a circle around him, Jesus said, 'These are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother'."[30][3:31-35] Other verses suggest a conflict between Jesus and his family, including an attempt to have Jesus restrained because "he is out of his mind",[31] and the famous quote: "A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home."[32] A leading Biblical scholar commented: "there are clear signs not only that Jesus's family rejected his message during his public ministry but that he in turn spurned them publicly".[33]

Mary is also depicted as being present among the women at the crucifixion during the crucifixion standing near "the disciple whom Jesus loved" along with Mary of Clopas and Mary Magdalene,[Jn 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. This representation is called a Stabat Mater.[34][35] While not recorded in the Gospel accounts, Mary cradling the dead body of her son is a common motif in art, called a "pietà" or "pity".

After the Ascension of Jesus

In Acts 1:26, especially v. 14, Mary is the only one other than the eleven apostles to be mentioned by name who abode in the upper room, when they returned from Mount Olive. Some[who?] speculate that the "elect lady" mentioned in 2 John 1:1 may be Mary. From this time, she disappears from the biblical accounts, although it is held by Catholics that she is again portrayed as the heavenly woman of Revelation.[Rev 12:1]

Her death is not recorded in the scriptures, but Catholic and Orthodox tradition and doctrine have her assumed (taken bodily) into Heaven. Belief in the corporeal assumption of Mary is universal to Catholicism, in both Eastern and Western Catholic Churches, as well as the Eastern Orthodox Church,[36][37] Coptic Churches, and parts of the Anglican Communion and Continuing Anglican Churches.[38]

Later Christian writings and traditions

The Dormition: ivory plaque, late 10th-early 11th century (Musée de Cluny)

According to the apocryphal Gospel of James, Mary was the daughter of Saint Joachim and Saint Anne. Before Mary's conception, Anne had been barren and was far advanced in years. Mary was given 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.[39] Some apocryphal accounts state that at the time of her betrothal to Joseph, Mary was 12–14 years old, and he was thirty years old, but such accounts are unreliable.[40]

Mary, according to some in Christianity, never died because she was free from Original Sin since her creation. One of the results of Original Sin is death, but because Mary was an Immaculate Conception, she never had to face the consequence of it. Instead, she was assumed into Heaven, body and soul to prevent the Mother of God, the perfect innocent one, from seeing bodily corruption in soil.

Hyppolitus of Thebes claims that Mary lived for 11 years after the death of her Jesus, dying in 41 AD.[41]

The earliest extant biographical writing on Mary is Life of the Virgin attributed to the 7th-century saint, Maximus the Confessor, which portrays her as a key element of the early Christian Church after the death of Jesus.[42][43][44]

In the 19th century, a house near Ephesus in Turkey was found, based on the visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich, an Augustinian nun in Germany.[45][46] It has since been visited as the House of the Virgin Mary by Roman Catholic pilgrims who consider it the place where Mary lived until her assumption.[47][48][49][50] The Gospel of John states that Mary went to live with the Disciple whom Jesus loved,[Jn 19:27] identified as John the Evangelist.[citation needed] Irenaeus and Eusebius of Caesarea wrote in their histories that John later went to Ephesus, which may provide the basis for the early belief that Mary also lived in Ephesus with John.[51][52]

Christian devotion

Main article: Marian devotions

2nd to 5th centuries

Christian devotion to Mary goes back to the 2nd century and predates the emergence of a specific Marian liturgical system in the 5th century, following the First Council of Ephesus in 431. The Council itself was held at a church in Ephesus which had been dedicated to Mary about a hundred years before.[53][54][55] In Egypt the veneration of Mary had started in the 3rd century and the term Theotokos was used by Origen, the Alexandrian Father of the Church.[56]

The earliest known Marian prayer (the Sub tuum praesidium, or Beneath Thy Protection) is from the 3rd century (perhaps 270), and its text was rediscovered in 1917 on a papyrus in Egypt.[57][58] Following the Edict of Milan in 313, by the 5th century artistic images of Mary began to appear in public and larger churches were being dedicated to Mary, e.g., S. Maria Maggiore in Rome.[59][60][61]

4th-century Arabia

According to the 4th-century heresiologist Epiphanius of Salamis the Virgin Mary was worshipped as a mother goddess in the Christian sect of Collyridianism, which was found throughout Arabia sometime during the 300s AD. Collyridianism had women performing priestly acts. They made bread offerings to the Virgin Mary. The group was condemned as heretical by the Roman Catholic Church and was preached against by Epiphanius of Salamis, who wrote about the group in his writings titled Panarion.[62]

The adoption of the mother of Jesus as a virtual goddess may represent a reintroduction of aspects of the worship of Isis. "When looking at images of the Egyptian goddess Isis and those of the Virgin Mary, one may initially observe iconographic similarities. These parallels have led many scholars to suggest that there is a distinct iconographic relationship between Isis and Mary. In fact, some scholars have gone even further, and have suggested, on the basis of this relationship, a direct link between the cult of Mary and that of Isis." [63]


Ephesus is a cultic centre of Mary, the site of the first Church dedicated to her and the rumoured place of her death. Ephesus was previously a centre for worship of Artemis a virgin goddess. The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus being regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World The cult of Mary was furthered by Queen Theodora in the 6th Century.[64][65] According to William E. Phipps, in the book Survivals of Roman Religion[66] "Gordon Laing argues convincingly that the worship of Artemis as both virgin and mother at the grand Ephesian temple contributed to the veneration of Mary."[67]

Middle Ages

The Middle Ages saw many legends about Mary, and also her parents and even grandparents.[68]

Since the Reformation

Over the centuries, devotion and veneration to Mary has varied greatly among Christian traditions. For instance, while Protestants show scant attention to Marian prayers or devotions, of all the saints whom the Orthodox venerate, the most honored is Mary, who is considered "more honorable than the Cherubim and more glorious than the Seraphim".[69]

Orthodox theologian Sergei Bulgakov wrote: "Love and veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the soul of Orthodox piety. A faith in Christ which does not include his mother is another faith, another Christianity from that of the Orthodox church."[70]

Although the Catholics and the Orthodox may honor and venerate Mary, they do not view her as divine, nor do they worship her. Roman Catholics view Mary as subordinate to Christ, but uniquely so, in that she is seen as above all other creatures.[71] Similarly Theologian Sergei Bulgakov wrote that the Orthodox view Mary as "superior to all created beings" and "ceaselessly pray for her intercession". However, she is not considered a "substitute for the One Mediator" who is Christ.[70] "Let Mary be in honor, but let worship be given to the Lord", he wrote.[72] Similarly, Catholics do not worship Mary as a divine being, but rather "hyper-venerate" her. In Roman Catholic theology, the term hyperdulia is reserved for Marian veneration, latria for the worship of God, and dulia for the veneration of other saints and angels.[73] The definition of the three level hierarchy of latria, hyperdulia and dulia goes back to the Second Council of Nicaea in 787.[74]

Devotions to artistic depictions of Mary vary among Christian traditions. There is a long tradition of Roman Catholic Marian art and no image permeates Catholic art as does the image of Madonna and Child.[75] The icon of the Virgin Theotokos with Christ is without doubt the most venerated icon in the Orthodox Church.[76] Both Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians venerate images and icons of Mary, given that the Second Council of Nicaea in 787 permitted their veneration with the understanding that those who venerate the image are venerating the reality of the person it represents,[77] and the 842 Synod of Constantinople confirming the same.[78] According to Orthodox piety and traditional practice, however, believers ought to pray before and venerate only flat, two-dimensional icons, and not three-dimensional statues.[79]

The Anglican position towards Mary is in general more conciliatory than that of Protestants at large and in a book he wrote about praying with the icons of Mary, Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, said: "It is not only that we cannot understand Mary without seeing her as pointing to Christ; we cannot understand Christ without seeing his attention to Mary."[80][81]


Main article: Titles of Mary
Eleusa Theotokos with scenes from the life of Mary, 18th century

Titles to honor Mary or ask for her intercession are used by some Christian traditions such as the Eastern Orthodox or Catholics, but not others, e.g., the Protestants. Common titles for Mary include Mother of God (Theotokos), The Blessed Virgin Mary (also abbreviated to "BVM"), Our Lady (Notre Dame, Nuestra Señora, Nossa Senhora, Madonna) and the Queen of Heaven (Regina Caeli).[82][83]

Specific titles vary among Anglican views of Mary, Ecumenical views of Mary, Lutheran views of Mary, Protestant views on Mary, and Roman Catholic views of Mary, Latter-day Saint views on Mary, Orthodox views of Mary, in addition to Mary in Islam.

Mary is referred to by the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodoxy, the Anglican Church, 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 (Μήτηρ Θεοῦ), 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".[84][85][86]

Some titles have a Biblical basis, for instance the title Queen Mother has been given to Mary since she was the mother of Jesus, who was sometimes referred to as the "King of Kings" due to his lineage of King David. The biblical basis for the term Queen can be seen in the Gospel of Luke 1:32 and the Book of Isaiah 9:6, and Queen Mother from 1 Kings 2:19-20 and Jeremiah 13:18-19.[87] Other titles have arisen from reported miracles, special appeals or occasions for calling on Mary, e.g., Our Lady of Good Counsel, Our Lady of Navigators or Our Lady of Ransom who protects captives.[88][89][90][91]

The three main titles for Mary used by the Orthodox are Theotokos, i.e., Mother of God (Greek Θεοτόκος), Aeiparthenos, i.e., Ever Virgin (Greek ἀειπαρθὲνος), as confirmed in the Fifth Ecumenical Council 553, and Panagia, i.e., All Holy (Greek Παναγία).[69] A large number of titles for Mary are used by Roman Catholics, and these titles have in turn given rise to many artistic depictions, e.g., the title Our Lady of Sorrows has resulted in masterpieces such as Michelangelo's Pietà.[92]

Marian feasts

Main article: Marian feast days (includes lists of feast days)

The earliest feasts that relate to Mary grew out of the cycle of feasts that celebrated the Nativity of Jesus. Given that according to the Gospel of Luke (Luke 2:22-40), forty days after the birth of Jesus, along with the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple Mary was purified according to Jewish customs, the Feast of the Purification began to be celebrated by the 5th century, and became the "Feast of Simeon" in Byzantium.[93]

Village decorations during the Feast of the Assumption in Għaxaq, Malta

In the 7th and 8th centuries four more Marian feasts were established in the Eastern Church. In the Western Church a feast dedicated to Mary, just before Christmas was celebrated in the Churches of Milan and Ravenna in Italy in the 7th century. The four Roman Marian feasts of Purification, Annunciation, Assumption and Nativity of Mary were gradually and sporadically introduced into England by the 11th century.[93]

Over time, the number and nature of feasts (and the associated Titles of Mary) and the venerative practices that accompany them have varied a great deal among diverse Christian traditions. Overall, there are significantly more titles, feasts and venerative Marian practices among Roman Catholics than any other Christians traditions.[92] Some such feasts relate to specific events, e.g., the Feast of Our Lady of Victory was based on the 1571 victory of the Papal States in the Battle of Lepanto.[94][95]

Differences in feasts may also originate from doctrinal issues—the Feast of the Assumption is such an example. Given that there is no agreement among all Christians on the circumstances of the death, Dormition or Assumption of Mary, the feast of assumption is celebrated among some denominations and not others. [83][96] While the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Assumption on August 15, some Eastern Catholics celebrate it as Dormition of the Theotokos, and may do so on August 28, if they follow the Julian calendar. The Eastern Orthodox also celebrate it as the Dormition of the Theotokos, one of their 12 Great Feasts. Protestants do not celebrate this, or any other Marian feasts.[83]

Depiction within Renaissance Art

In paintings, Mary is traditionally portrayed in blue. This tradition can trace its origin to the Byzantine Empire, from c.500 AD, where blue was "the colour of an empress". A more practical explanation for the use of this colour is that in Medieval and Renaissance Europe, the blue pigment was derived from the rock lapis lazuli, a stone imported from Afghanistan of greater value than gold. Beyond a painter's retainer, patrons were expected to purchase any gold or lapis lazuli to be used in the painting. Hence, it was an expression of devotion and glorification to swathe the Virgin in gowns of blue.

Our Lady of the Angels

2012 Grand Marian Procession through Downtown Los Angeles

Since 2011 the once common but ultimately lapsed custom of conducting a procession and Mass in honour of Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles in commemoration of the founding of the City of Los Angeles in 1781 was revived by the Queen of Angels Foundation, with the support and approbation of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles as well as several civic leaders.[97]

On September 4, 1781, 11 families of pobladores arrived from the Gulf of California and established a city in the name of King Carlos III. The small town was named El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles de la Porciúncula (after our Lady of the Angels), a city that today is known simply as Los Angeles.

The recently revived custom is a continuation of the original processions and Masses which commenced on the first anniversary of the founding of Los Angeles in 1782 and continued for nearly a century thereafter.

Roman Catholic doctrines

Mary with an inscription referencing Luke1:46-47 in St.Jürgen church in Gettorf (Schleswig-Holstein)

There is significant diversity in the Marian doctrines attributed to her primarily by the Roman Catholic Church. The key Marian doctrines held primarily in Catholicism can be briefly outlined as follows:

The acceptance of these Marian doctrines by Roman Catholic Christians can be summarized as follows:[13][98][99]

Doctrine Church action Accepted by
Mother of God First Council of Ephesus, 431 Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists
Virgin birth of Jesus First Council of Nicaea, 325 Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Assyrians, Anglicans, non-liberal Protestants
Assumption of Mary Munificentissimus Deus encyclical
Pope Pius XII, 1950
Roman Catholics, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox (only following her natural death), some Anglicans, some Lutherans
Immaculate Conception Ineffabilis Deus encyclical
Pope Pius IX, 1854
Roman Catholics, some Anglicans, some Lutherans (early Martin Luther)
Perpetual Virginity Council of Constantinople, 533
Smalcald Articles, 1537
Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Assyrians, some Anglicans, some Lutherans (Martin Luther)

The title "Mother of God" (Theotokos) for Mary was confirmed by the First Council of Ephesus, held at the Church of Mary in 431. The Council decreed that Mary is the Mother of God because her son Jesus is one person who is both God and man, divine and human.[84] This doctrine is widely accepted by Christians in general, and the term Mother of God had already been used within the oldest known prayer to Mary, the Sub tuum praesidium which dates to around 250 AD.[100]

The Virgin birth of Jesus was an almost universally held belief among Christians from the 2nd until the 19th century.[101] It is included in the two most widely used Christian creeds, which state that Jesus "was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary" (the Nicene Creed in what is now its familiar form)[102] and the Apostles' Creed. The Gospel of Matthew describes Mary as a virgin who fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14, mistranslating the Hebrew word alma ("young woman") in Isaiah 7:14 as "virgin", though.[4] 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.[Mt 1:18] [Mt 1:25] [Lk 1:34] 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.[103]

The doctrines of the Assumption or Dormition of Mary relate to her death and bodily assumption to Heaven. The Roman Catholic Church has dogmaically defined the doctrine of the Assumption, which was done in 1950 by Pope Pius XII in Munificentissimus Deus. Whether the Virgin Mary died or not is not defined dogmatically, however, although a reference to the death of Mary are made in Munificentissimus Deus. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Assumption of the Virgin Mary is believed, and celebrated with her Dormition, where they believe she died.

Roman Catholics believe in the Immaculate Conception of Mary, as proclaimed Ex Cathedra by Pope Pius IX in 1854, 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 Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church has a liturgical feast by that name, kept on December 8.[104] Orthodox Christians reject the Immaculate Conception dogma principally because their understanding of ancestral sin (the Greek term corresponding to the Latin "original sin") differs from the Augustinian interpretation and that of the Roman Catholic Church.[105]

The Perpetual Virginity of Mary asserts Mary's real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made Man. The term Ever-Virgin (Greek ἀειπάρθενος) is applied in this case, stating that Mary remained a virgin for the remainder of her life, making Jesus her biological and only son, whose conception and birth are held to be miraculous.[103][106][107] While the Orthodox Churches hold the position articulated in the Protoevangelium of James that Jesus' brothers and sisters are older children of Joseph the Betrothed, step-siblings from an earlier marriage that left him widowed, Roman Catholic teaching follows the Latin father Jerome in considering them Jesus' cousins.

Perspectives on Mary

Blessed Virgin Mary
L' Annonciation de 1644, Philippe de Champaigne..jpg
West: Mother of God, Queen of Heaven, Mother of the Church
East: Theotokos
Honored in Christianity, Islam
Canonized Pre-Congregation
Major shrine Santa Maria Maggiore (See Marian shrines)
Feast See Marian feast days
Attributes Blue mantle, crown of 12 stars, pregnant woman, roses, woman with child
Patronage See Patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Christian perspectives on Mary

Christian Marian perspectives include a great deal of diversity. While some Christians such as Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox have well established Marian traditions, Protestants at large pay scant attention to Mariological themes. Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutherans venerate the Virgin Mary. 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.[69][81][83][92]

Catholic view

Madonna of humility by Domenico di Bartolo, 1433; one of the most innovative Marian images from the early Renaissance[108]

In the Catholic Church, Mary is accorded the title "Blessed", (from Latin beatus, blessed, via Greek μακάριος, makarios and Latin facere, make) in recognition of her assumption to Heaven and her capacity to intercede on behalf of those who pray to her. Catholic teachings make clear that Mary is not considered divine and prayers to her are not answered by her, they are answered by God.[109] The four Catholic dogmas regarding Mary are: Mother of God, Perpetual virginity of Mary, Immaculate Conception (of Mary) and Assumption of Mary.[106][110][111]

The Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus has a more central role in Roman Catholic teachings and beliefs than in any other major Christian group. Not only do Roman Catholics have more theological doctrines and teachings that relate to Mary, but they have more festivals, prayers, devotional, and venerative practices than any other group.[92] The Catholic Catechism states: "The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship."[112]

For centuries, Roman Catholics have performed acts of consecration and entrustment to Mary at personal, societal and regional levels. These acts may be directed to the Virgin herself, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and to the Immaculata. In Catholic teachings, consecration to Mary does not diminish or substitute the love of God, but enhances it, for all consecration is ultimately made to God.[113][114]

Following the growth of Marian devotions in the 16th century, Catholic saints wrote books such as Glories of Mary and True Devotion to Mary that emphasized Marian veneration and taught that "the path to Jesus is through Mary".[115] Marian devotions are at times linked to Christocentric devotions (e.g. the Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary).[116]

The chapel based on the claimed House of Mary in Ephesus

Key Marian devotions include: Seven Sorrows of Mary, Rosary and scapular, Miraculous Medal and Reparations to Mary.[117][118] The months of May and October are traditionally "Marian months" for Roman Catholics, e.g., the daily Rosary is encouraged in October and in May Marian devotions take place in many regions.[119][120][121] Popes have issued a number of Marian encyclicals and Apostolic Letters to encourage devotions to and the veneration of the Virgin Mary.

Catholics place high emphasis on Mary's roles as protector and intercessor and the Catholic Catechism refers to Mary as the "Mother of God to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs".[122][123][124][125][126] Key Marian prayers include: Hail Mary, Alma Redemptoris Mater, Sub Tuum Praesidum, Ave Maris Stella, Regina Coeli, Ave Regina Coelorum and the Magnificat.[127]

Mary's participation in the processes of salvation and redemption has also been emphasized in the Catholic tradition, but they are not doctrines.[128][129][130][131] Pope John Paul II's 1987 encyclical Redemptoris Mater began with the sentence: "The Mother of the Redeemer has a precise place in the plan of salvation."[132]

In the 20th century both popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have emphasized the Marian focus of the Church. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) wrote:

It is necessary to go back to Mary if we want to return to that "truth about Jesus Christ," "truth about the Church" and "truth about man."[133]

when he suggested a redirection of the whole Church towards the program of Pope John Paul II in order to ensure an authentic approach to Christology via a return to the "whole truth about Mary".[133]

Orthodox view

See also: Theotokos and Hymns to Mary
15th-century icon of the Theotokos (God-bearer)

Orthodox Christianity includes a large number of traditions regarding the Ever Virgin Mary, the Theotokos.[134] The Orthodox believe that she was and remained a virgin before and after Christ's birth.[69] The Theotokia (i.e., hymns to the Theotokos) are an essential part of the Divine Services in the Eastern Church and their positioning within the liturgical sequence effectively places the Theotokos in the most prominent place after Christ.[135] Within the Orthodox tradition, the order of the saints begins with: The Theotokos, Angels, Prophets, Apostles, Fathers, Martyrs, etc. giving the Virgin Mary precedence over the angels. She is also proclaimed as the "Lady of the Angels".[135]

The views of the Church Fathers still play an important role in the shaping of Orthodox Marian perspective. However, the Orthodox views on Mary are mostly doxological, rather than academic: they are expressed in hymns, praise, liturgical poetry and the veneration of icons. One of the most loved Orthodox Akathists (i.e. standing hymns) is devoted to Mary and it is often simply called the Akathist Hymn.[136] Five of the twelve Great Feasts in Orthodoxy are dedicated to Mary.[69] The Sunday of Orthodoxy directly links the Virgin Mary's identity as Mother of God with icon veneration.[137] A number of Orthodox feasts are connected with the miraculous icons of the Theotokos.[135]

The Orthodox view Mary as "superior to all created beings", although not divine.[70] The Orthodox does not venerate Mary as conceived immaculate. The Orthodox celebrate the Dormition of the Theotokos, rather than Assumption.[69]

The Protoevangelium of James, an extra-canonical book, has been the source of many Orthodox beliefs on Mary. The account of Mary's life presented includes her consecration as a virgin at the temple at age three. The High Priest Zachariah blessed Mary and informed her that God had magnified her name among many generations. Zachariah placed Mary on the third step of the altar, whereby God gave her grace. While in the temple, Mary was miraculously fed by an angel, until she was twelve years old. At that point an angel told Zachariah to betroth Mary to a widower in Israel, who would be indicated. This story provides the theme of many hymns for the Feast of Presentation of Mary, and icons of the feast depict the story.[138] The Orthodox believe that Mary was instrumental in the growth of Christianity during the life of Jesus, and after his Crucifixion, and Orthodox Theologian Sergei Bulgakov wrote: "The Virgin Mary is the center, invisible, but real, of the Apostolic Church."

Theologians from the Orthodox tradition have made prominent contributions to the development of Marian thought and devotion. John Damascene (c. 650─c. 750) was one of the greatest Orthodox theologians. Among other Marian writings, he proclaimed the essential nature of Mary's heavenly Assumption or Dormition and her mediative role.

It was necessary that the body of the one who preserved her virginity intact in giving birth should also be kept incorrupt after death. It was necessary that she, who carried the Creator in her womb when he was a baby, should dwell among the tabernacles of heaven.[139]

From her we have harvested the grape of life; from her we have cultivated the seed of immortality. For our sake she became Mediatrix of all blessings; in her God became man, and man became God.[140]

More recently, Sergei Bulgakov expressed the Orthodox sentiments towards Mary as follows:[70]

Mary is not merely the instrument, but the direct positive condition of the Incarnation, its human aspect. Christ could not have been incarnate by some mechanical process, violating human nature. It was necessary for that nature itself to say for itself, by the mouth of the most pure human being: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to Thy word."

Anglican view

The multiple churches that form the Anglican Communion and the Continuing Anglican movement have different views on Marian doctrines and venerative practices given that there is no single church with universal authority within the Communion and that the mother church (the Church of England) understands itself to be both "catholic" and "Reformed".[141] Thus unlike the Protestant churches at large, the Anglican Communion (which includes the Episcopal Church in the United States) includes segments which still retain some veneration of Mary.[81]

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.[142] All the member churches of the Anglican Communion affirm 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 February 2. The Annunciation of our Lord to the Blessed Virgin on March 25 was from before the time of 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 31 May, 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.[81]

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 considered a pious opinion by moderate Anglicans. Protestant minded Anglicans reject the celebration of these feasts.[81]

Prayers and venerative practices vary a great deal. For instance, as of the 19th century, following the Oxford Movement, Anglo-Catholics frequently pray the Rosary, the Angelus, Regina Caeli, and other litanies and anthems of Our Lady that are reminiscent of Catholic practices.[143] On the other hand, Low-church Anglicans rarely invoke the Blessed Virgin except in certain hymns, such as the second stanza of Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones.[142][144]

The Anglican Society of Mary was formed in 1931 and maintains chapters in many countries. The purpose of the society is to foster devotion to Mary among Anglicans.[81][145] The high-church Anglicans espouse doctrines that are closer to Roman Catholics, and retain veneration for Mary, e.g., official Anglican pilgrimages to Our Lady of Lourdes have taken place since 1963, and pilgrimages to Our Lady of Walsingham have gone on for hundreds of years.[146]

Historically, there has been enough common ground between Roman Catholics and Anglicans on Marian issues that in 2005 a joint statement called Mary: grace and hope in Christ was produced through ecumenical meetings of Anglicans and Roman Catholic theologians. This document, informally known as the "Seattle Statement", is not formally endorsed by either the Catholic Church or the Anglican Communion, but is viewed by its authors as the beginning of a joint understanding of Mary.[81][147]

Protestant view

Further information: Protestant views on Mary

Protestants in general reject the veneration and invocation of the Saints.[13]:1174 Protestants typically hold that Mary was the mother of Jesus, but was an ordinary woman devoted to God. Therefore, there is virtually no Marian veneration, Marian feasts, Marian pilgrimages, Marian art, Marian music or Marian spirituality in today's Protestant communities. Within these views, Roman Catholic beliefs and practices are at times rejected, e.g., theologian Karl Barth wrote that "the heresy of the Catholic Church is its Mariology".[148]

Some early Protestants venerated and honored Mary. Martin Luther wrote that: "Mary is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin. God's grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil."[149] However, as of 1532 Luther stopped celebrating the feast of the Assumption of Mary and also discontinued his support of the Immaculate Conception.[150]

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."[151] However, Calvin firmly rejected the notion that anyone but Christ can intercede for man.[152]

Although Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli honored Mary as the Mother of God in the 16th century, they did so less than Martin Luther.[153] Thus the idea of respect and high honor for Mary was not rejected by the first Protestants; but, they came to criticize the Roman Catholics for venerating Mary. Following the Council of Trent in the 16th century, as Marian veneration became associated with Catholics, Protestant interest in Mary decreased. During the Age of the Enlightenment any residual interest in Mary within Protestant churches almost disappeared, although Anglicans and Lutherans continued to honor her.[13]

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.[154]

In the 20th century, Protestants reacted in opposition to the Catholic dogma of the Assumption of Mary. The conservative tone of the Second Vatican Council began to mend the ecumenical differences, and Protestants began to show interest in Marian themes. In 1997 and 1998 ecumenical dialogs between Catholics and Protestants took place, but to date the majority of Protestants pay scant attention to Marian issues and often view them as a challenge to the authority of Scripture.[13]

The Council Of Chalcedon, accepted by Protestants, held Mary to be Mother of God (not Christ).[citation needed]

Lutheran view
Stained glass of Jesus leaving his mother in a Lutheran Church, South Carolina.

Despite Martin Luther's harsh polemics against his Roman Catholic opponents over issues concerning Mary and the saints, theologians appear to agree that Luther adhered to the Marian decrees of the ecumenical councils and dogmas of the church. He held fast to the belief that Mary was a perpetual virgin and the Theotokos or Mother of God.[155][156] Special attention is given to the assertion that Luther, some three-hundred years before the dogmatization of the Immaculate Conception by Pope Pius IX in 1854, was a firm adherent of that view. Others maintain that Luther in later years changed his position on the Immaculate Conception, which, at that time was undefined in the Church, maintaining however the sinlessness of Mary throughout her life.[157][158] For Luther, early in his life, the Assumption of Mary was an understood fact, although he later stated that the Bible did not say anything about it and stopped celebrating its feast. Important to him was the belief that Mary and the saints do live on after death.[159][160][161] "Throughout his career as a priest-professor-reformer, Luther preached, taught, and argued about the veneration of Mary with a verbosity that ranged from childlike piety to sophisticated polemics. His views are intimately linked to his Christocentric theology and its consequences for liturgy and piety."[162] Luther, while revering Mary, came to criticize the "Papists" 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. He considered the Roman Catholic practice of celebrating saints' days and making intercessory requests addressed especially to Mary and other departed saints to be idolatry.[163][164] His final thoughts on Marian devotion and veneration are preserved in a sermon preached at Wittenberg only a month before his death:

Therefore, when we preach faith, that we should worship nothing but God alone, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, as we say in the Creed: 'I believe in God the Father almighty and in Jesus Christ,' then we are remaining in the temple at Jerusalem. Again,'This is my beloved Son; listen to him.' 'You will find him in a manger'. He alone does it. But reason says the opposite:

What, us? Are we to worship only Christ? Indeed, shouldn’t we also honor the holy mother of Christ? She is the woman who bruised the head of the serpent. Hear us, Mary, for thy Son so honors thee that he can refuse thee nothing. Here Bernard went too far in his Homilies on the Gospel: Missus est Angelus.[165] God has commanded that we should honor the parents; therefore I will call upon Mary. She will intercede for me with the Son, and the Son with the Father, who will listen to the Son. So you have the picture of God as angry and Christ as judge; Mary shows to Christ her breast and Christ shows his wounds to the wrathful Father. That’s the kind of thing this comely bride, the wisdom of reason cooks up: Mary is the mother of Christ, surely Christ will listen to her; Christ is a stern judge, therefore I will call upon St. George and St. Christopher. No, we have been by God’s command baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, just as the Jews were circumcised.[166][167]

Certain Lutheran churches such as the Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church however, continue to venerate Mary and the saints in the same manner that Roman Catholics do, and hold all Marian dogmas as part of their faith.[168]

Methodist view

Methodists have no official writings or teachings on the Virgin Mary except what is mentioned in Scripture and the ecumenical Creeds, mainly that Christ was conceived in her womb through the Holy Spirit and that she gave birth to Christ as a virgin. John Wesley, the principal founder of the Methodist movement within the Church of England, believed that Mary "continued a pure and unspotted virgin."[169][170] Contemporary Methodism does hold that Mary was a virgin before, during, and immediately after the birth of Christ.[171][172]

The Methodist churches disagree with veneration of saints, of Mary, and of relics; believing that reverence and praise are for God alone. However, studying the life of Mary and the biographies of saints is deemed appropriate, as they are seen as heroes and examples of good Christians.[173] The Methodist churches reject the doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of Mary, stating that Christ was the only person to live a sinless life and to ascend body and soul into Heaven.[174]

Latter Day Saints

The Latter Day Saint movement teaches that Mary was the mother of Jesus, whose father was God the Father. Latter Day Saints affirm the virgin birth of Jesus[175] but reject the Roman Catholic traditions of the Immaculate Conception, the perpetual virginity of Mary, and her assumption. They also believe that the brothers of Jesus were her and Joseph's biological children.[176]

Mary is not seen as an intercessor between humankind and Jesus, and Latter Day Saints do not pray to Mary.[176] The Book of Mormon, part of the Latter Day Saint canon of scripture, refers to Mary by name in prophecies of her mission,[177] and describes her as "most beautiful and fair above all other virgins"[178] and as a "precious and chosen vessel."[179]

Nontrinitarian view

Nontrinitarians, such as Unitarians, Christadelphians and Jehovah's Witnesses[180] also acknowledge Mary as the biological mother of Jesus Christ, but do not recognise Marian titles such as "Mother of God" as these groups generally reject Christ's divinity. Since Nontrinitarian churches are typically also mortalist, the issue of praying to Mary, whom they would consider "asleep", awaiting resurrection, does not arise.[181] Emanuel Swedenborg says God as he is in himself could not directly approach evil spirits to redeem those spirits without destroying them (Exodus 33:20, John 1:18), so God impregnated Mary, who gave Jesus Christ access to the evil heredity of the human race, which he could approach, redeem and save.[182]

Islamic perspective

Main article: Mary in Islam
Persian miniature of Mary and Jesus

Mary, the mother of Jesus, is mentioned as Maryam in the Qur'an a total of fifty times.[183] Mary holds a singularly distinguished and honored position among women in the Qur'an. A Sura (chapter) in the Qur'an is titled "Maryam" (Mary), which is the only Sura in the Qur'an named after a woman, in which the story of Mary (Maryam) and Jesus (Isa) is recounted according to the Islamic view of Jesus.[184]

She is mentioned in the Qur'an with the honorific title of "our lady" (syyidatuna) as the daughter of Imran and Hannah.[185]

She is the only woman directly named in the Qur'an; declared (uniquely along with Jesus) to be a Sign of God to humanity;[186] as one who "guarded her chastity";[187] an obedient one;[187] chosen of her mother and dedicated to Allah whilst still in the womb;[188] uniquely (amongst women) Accepted into service by God;[189] cared for by (one of the prophets as per Islam) Zakariya (Zacharias);[189] 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 God.[189][185]

Mary is also called a Chosen One;[190] a Purified One;[190] a Truthful one;[191] her child conceived through "a Word from God";[192] and "exalted above all women of The Worlds/Universes (the material and heavenly worlds)".[190]

The Qur'an relates detailed narrative accounts of Maryam (Mary) in two places, Qur'an 3:35–47 and 19:16–34. These state beliefs in both the Immaculate Conception of Mary and the Virgin birth of Jesus.[193][194][195] The account given in Sura 19 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. It mentions how Mary was informed by an angel that she would become the mother of Jesus through the actions of God alone.[196]

In the Islamic tradition, Mary and Jesus were the only children who could not be touched by Satan at the moment of their birth, for God imposed a veil between them and Satan.[197] According to author Shabbir Akhtar, the Islamic perspective on Mary's Immaculate Conception is compatible with the Catholic doctrine of the same topic. "O People of the Book! Do not go beyond the bounds in your religion, and do not say anything of Allah but the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was but a Messenger of God, and a Word of His (Power) which He conveyed to Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah (as the One, Unique God), and His Messengers (including Jesus, as Messenger); and do not say: (Allah is one of) a trinity. Give up (this assertion) â€" (it is) for your own good (to do so). Allah is but One Allah ; All-Glorified He is in that He is absolutely above having a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And Allah suffices as the One to be relied on, to Whom affairs should be referred." Quran 4/171[198][199]

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 Suras 3 and 19 of the Qur'an, where it is written that God sent an angel to announce that she could shortly expect to bear a son, despite being a virgin.[200]

Baha'i perspective

The Bahá'í Faith venerates Mary as the mother of Jesus. The Kitáb-i-Íqán, the primary theological work of the Baha'i religion, describes Mary as "that most beauteous countenance," and "that veiled and immortal Countenance." It claims that Jesus was "conceived of the Holy Ghost."[201]

Other views

Bible scholars

The statement that Joseph "knew her not till she brought forth her first born son" (Matthew 1:25 DouayRheims) has been debated among scholars, with some saying that she did not remain a virgin and some saying that she was a perpetual virgin.[202] Other scholars contend that the Greek word heos (i.e., until) denotes a state up to a point, but does not mean that the state ended after that point, and that Matthew 1:25 does not confirm or deny the virginity of Mary after the birth of Jesus.[203][204][205] According to Biblical scholar Bart Ehrman the Hebrew word almah, meaning young woman of childbearing age, was translated into Greek as parthenos, which only means virgin, in Isaiah 7:14, which is commonly believed by Christians to be the prophecy of the Virgin Mary referred to in Matthew 1:23.[206] While Matthew and Luke give differing versions of the virgin birth, John quotes the uninitiated Philip and the disbelieving Jews gathered at Galilee referring to Joseph as Jesus's father.[207][208][209][210]

Other biblical verses have also been debated, e.g., that the reference by Paul that Jesus was made "of the seed of David according to the flesh" (Romans 1:3) may be interpreted as Joseph being the father of Jesus.[211] However, most scholars reject this interpretation in the context of virgin birth given that Paul used the Greek word genomenos (i.e., becoming) rather than the word gennetos (i.e., that is born, born)[212] and the reference to "seed of David" is likely to Mary's lineage.[213][214][215]


The issue of the parentage of Jesus in the Talmud affects also the view of his mother. However the Talmud does not mention Mary by name and is considerate rather than only polemic.[216][217] The story about Panthera is also found in the Toledot Yeshu, the literary origins of which can not be traced with any certainty and given that it is unlikely to go before the 4th century, it is far too late to include authentic remembrances of Jesus.[218] The Blackwell Companion to Jesus states that the Toledot Yeshu has no historical facts as such, and was perhaps created as a tool for warding off conversions to Christianity.[219] The name Panthera may be a distortion of the term parthenos (virgin) and Raymond E. Brown considers the story of Panthera a fanciful explanation of the birth of Jesus which includes very little historical evidence.[220] Robert Van Voorst states that given that Toledot Yeshu is a medieval document and due to its lack of a fixed form and orientation towards a popular audience, it is "most unlikely" to have reliable historical information.[221]

Pagan Rome

From the early stages of Christianity, belief in the virginity of Mary and the virgin conception of Jesus, as stated in the gospels, holy and supernatural, was used by detractors, both political and religious, as a topic for discussions, debates and writings, specifically aimed to challenge the divinity of Jesus and thus Christians and Christianity alike.[222] In the 2nd century, as part of the earliest anti-Christian polemics, Celsus suggested that Jesus was the illegitimate son of a Roman soldier named Panthera.[223] The views of Celsus drew responses from Origen, the Church Father in Alexandria, Egypt, who considered it a fabricated story.[224] How far Celsus sourced his view from Jewish sources remains a subject of discussion.[225]

Cinematic portrayals

Mary has been portrayed in various films and on television, including:

Image gallery

See also: Life of the Virgin
For a larger gallery, please see: Marian image gallery


See also


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ Mary in the New Testament, Raymond Edward Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Karl Paul Donfried, A Collaborative statement by Protestant, Anglican and Roman Catholic scholars, (NJ 1978), page 140
  3. ^ Matthew 1:23 uses Greek parthénos virgin, whereas only the Hebrew of Isaiah 7:14, from which the New Testament ostensibly quotes, as Almah young maiden. See article on parthénos in Bauer/(Arndt)/Gingrich/Danker, "A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature", Second Edition, University of Chicago Press, 1979, p. 627.
  4. ^ a b Singer, Tovia (Rabbi). "A Christian Defends Matthew by Insisting That the Author of the First Gospel Relied on the Septuagint When He Quoted Isaiah to Support the Virgin Birth". Retrieved 28 January 2015. 
  5. ^ Browning, W. R. F. A dictionary of the Bible. 2004 ISBN 0-19-860890-X page 246
  6. ^ Ruiz, Jean-Pierre. "Between the Crèche and the Cross: Another Look at the Mother of Jesus in the New Testament." New Theology Review; Aug2010, Vol. 23 Issue 3, pp3-4
  7. ^ Allison, Dale C., Matthew: A Shorter Commentary, p.12 Continuum International Publishing Group, 2004 ISBN 0-567-08249-0
  8. ^ Munificentissimus Deus: Dogma of the Assumption by Pius XII, 1950, 17
  9. ^ Holweck, Frederick (1907), The Feast of the Assumption,(The Catholic Encyclopedia) 2, New York: Robert Appleton Company , access date 18 April 2015
  10. ^ Burke, Raymond L.; et al. (2008). Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons ISBN 978-1-57918-355-4 page 178
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  17. ^ Ruiz, Jean-Pierre. "Between the Crèche and the Cross: Another Look at the Mother of Jesus in the New Testament." New Theology Review. Aug 2010, Vol. 23 Issue 3, pp. 5-15
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  21. ^ An event described by some Christians as the Annunciation Luke 1:35.
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  144. ^ Duckworth, Penelope, Mary: The Imagination of Her Heart 2004 ISBN 1-56101-260-2 page 3-5
  145. ^ Church of England yearbook: Volume 123 2006 ISBN 0-7151-1020-9 page 315
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  151. ^ Alternately: "It cannot even be denied that God conferred the highest honour on Mary, by choosing and appointing her to be the mother of his Son." Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, 1845, Jean Calvin, Rev. William Pringle, Edinburgh, Volume 2, page 87 quote.
    • "Neque etiam negari potest, quin Deus Mariam Filio suo matrem eligens ac destinans summo eam honore dignatus sit." Calvin’s Opera, vol. 45 (Corpus Reformatorum, vol. 73), p. 348. no preview
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  155. ^ Bäumer, Remigius. Marienlexikon Gesamtausgabe, Leo Scheffczyk, ed., (Regensburg: Institutum Marianum, 1994), 190.
  156. ^ Schroedel, Jenny (2006), The Everything Mary Book, pp. 125–6, ISBN 1-59337-713-4 
  157. ^ Jackson, Gregory Lee (1993), Catholic, Lutheran, Protestant: a doctrinal comparison, p. 249, ISBN 978-0-615-16635-3 
  158. ^ Bäumer, 191
  159. ^ Haffner, Paul (2004), The mystery of Mary, p. 223, ISBN 0-85244-650-0 
  160. ^ Bäumer, 190.
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  162. ^ Eric W. Gritsch (1992). H. George Anderson, J. Francis Stafford, Joseph A. Burgess (eds.), ed. The One Mediator, The Saints, and Mary, Lutherans and Roman Catholic in Dialogue VII. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress. p. 235. 
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  165. ^ Homiliae S. Bernardi super evangelio : "Missus est angelus Gabriel" - saint Bernard de Clairvaux - Google Boeken. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
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  172. ^ "Comparing Christian Denominations – Beliefs: Nature of Mary". July 30, 2013. Retrieved September 30, 2013. 
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  175. ^ Colton, Eleanor (1992), "Virgin Birth", Encyclopedia of Mormonism 4, New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing Co., p. 1510 
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  177. ^ Mosiah 3:8
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  180. ^ Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in America 2006 Page 73 Eugene V. Gallagher, W. Michael Ashcraft "Jehovah's Witnesses pray to God in the name of Jesus, but insist that the Bible never identifies Christ as an eternal ... Jehovah God caused an ovum, or egg cell, in Mary's womb to become fertile, accomplishing this by the transferal of "
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  183. ^ See the following verses: 5:114, 5:116, 7:158, 9:31, 17:57, 17:104, 18:102, 19:16, 19:17, 19:18, 19:20, 19:22, 19:24, 19:27, 19:28, 19:29, 19:34, 21:26, 21:91, 21:101, 23:50, 25:17, 33:7, 39:45, 43:57, 43:61, 57:27, 61:6, 61:14, 66:12.
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  203. ^ McNally, Terrence, What Every Catholic Should Know about Mary ISBN 1-4415-1051-6 page 95
  204. ^ Cradle of redeeming love by John Saward 2002 Ignatius Press ISBN 0-89870-886-9 page 17
  205. ^ Mary in the New Testament by Raymond Edward Brown 1978 ISBN 0-8091-2168-9 page 86
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  207. ^ John 1:45
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  212. ^
  213. ^ This Jesus by Markus Bockmuehl 2004 ISBN 0-567-08296-2 page 32
  214. ^ Aquinas on doctrine: a critical introduction by Thomas Gerard Weinandy, John Yocum 2004 ISBN 0-567-08411-6 pages 245-246
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  217. ^ Peter Schäfer Mirror of His beauty: feminine images of God from the Bible to the ..2002 Page 233 "On the one hand, it mockingly disapproves of the idea of the mother of God; on the other hand it treats Mary considerately and by no means only polemically. The talmudic and post-talmudic discussions about the Virgin Mary are classic ..."
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  219. ^ Michael J. Cook Jewish Perspectives on Jesus Chapter 14 in the "The Blackwell Companion to Jesus" edited by Delbert Burkett 2011 ISBN 978-1-4443-2794-6
  220. ^ Mary in the New Testament by Raymond Edward Brown, et al. 1978 ISBN 0-8091-2168-9 page 262
  221. ^ Van Voorst, Robert E (2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence WmB Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 0-8028-4368-9 page 128
  222. ^ Bennett, Clinton, In search of Jesus 2001 ISBN 0-8264-4916-6 pages 165–170
  223. ^ Also see: Schaberg, Jane. Illegitimacy of Jesus: A Feminist Theological Interpretation of the Infancy Narratives (Biblical Seminar Series, No 28), ISBN 1-85075-533-7.
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  225. ^ John Patrick The Apology of Origen in Reply to Celsus 1892 reprint 2009 ISBN 1-110-13388-X pages 22–24
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Further reading

External links