(full list) Related topics Glossary Index Outline Christianity portal v t e Mary [c] was a first-century Judean woman of Nazareth,  the wife of Joseph and the mother of Jesus. She is a central figure of Christianity, venerated under various titles such as virgin or queen, many of them mentioned in the Litany of Loreto.
- Biblical references
- Dogmatic titles
Mary, (flourished beginning of the Christian era), the mother of Jesus, venerated in the Christian church since the apostolic age and a favourite subject in Western art, music, and literature. Mary is known from biblical references, which are, however, too sparse to construct a coherent biography. The development of the doctrine of Mary can be traced through titles that have been ascribed to her in the history of the Christian communions—guarantee of the Incarnation, virgin mother, second Eve, mother of God, ever virgin, immaculate, and assumed into heaven. She has a number of feast days in various Christian traditions, several of which are holy days of obligation for Roman Catholics. Shrines to her that have become internationally famous as pilgrimage sites, where assorted miracles have supposedly occurred, include Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Loreto, and Our Lady of Medjugorje.
The New Testament account of her humility and obedience to the message of God have made her an exemplar for all ages of Christians. Out of the details supplied in the New Testament by the Gospels about the maid of Galilee, Christian piety and theology have constructed a picture of Mary that fulfills the prediction ascribed to her in the Magnificat (Luke 1:48): “Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed.”
The first mention of Mary is the story of the Annunciation, which reports that she was living in Nazareth and was betrothed to Joseph (Luke 1:26 ff.), and the last mention of her (Acts of the Apostles 1:14) includes her in the company of those who devoted themselves to prayer after the ascension of Jesus into heaven. She appears in the following incidents in the Gospels: the Annunciation; the visit with Elizabeth, her kinswoman and the mother of John the Baptist, the precursor of Jesus (Luke 1:39 ff.); the birth of Jesus and the presentation of him in the Temple (Luke 2:1 ff.); the coming of the Magi and the flight to Egypt (Matthew 2:1 ff.); the Passover visit to Jerusalem when Jesus was 12 years old (Luke 2:41 ff.); the marriage at Cana in Galilee, although her name is not used (John 2:1 ff.); the attempt to see Jesus while he was teaching (Mark 3:31 ff.); and the station at the cross, where, apparently widowed, she was entrusted to the disciple John (John 19:26 ff.). Even if one takes these scenes as literal historical accounts, they do not add up to an integrated portrait of Mary. Only in the narratives of the Nativity and the Passion of Christ is her place a significant one: her acceptance of the privilege conferred on her in the Annunciation is the solemn prologue to the Christmas story, and, not only does she stand at the foot of the cross, but in the Easter story “the other Mary” who came to the tomb of Jesus (Matthew 28:1) is not she—according to traditional interpretations, because, having kept in her heart what he was to be, she knew that the body of Jesus would not be there. On the other hand, the three incidents that belong to the life of Jesus contain elements of a pronouncedly human character, perhaps even the suggestion that she did not fully understand Jesus’ true mission.
Since the early days of Christianity, however, the themes that these scenes symbolize have been the basis for thought and contemplation about Mary. Christian communions and theologians differ from one another in their interpretations of Mary principally on the basis of where they set the terminal point for such development and expansion—that is, where they maintain that the legitimate development of doctrine may be said to have ended. To a considerable degree, therefore, a historical survey of that development is also an introduction to the state of contemporary Christian thought about Mary.
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Probably the earliest allusion to Mary in Christian literature is the phrase “born of woman” in Galatians 4:4, which was written before any of the Gospels. As parallels such as Job 14:1 and Matthew 11:11 suggest, the phrase is a Hebraic way of speaking about the essential humanity of a person. When applied to Jesus, therefore, “born of woman” was intended to assert that he was a real man, in opposition to the attempt—later seen in various systems of gnosticism, a 2nd-century dualistic religion—to deny that he had had a completely human life; he was said by some gnostics to have passed through the body of Mary as light passes through a window. It seems unwarranted to read anything further into the phrase, as though “born of woman” necessarily implied “but not of a man and a woman.” Thus, the phrase made Mary the sign or the guarantee that the Son of God had truly been born as a man. For the ancient world, one human parent was necessary to assure that a person was genuinely human, and from the beginning the human mother of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has been the one to provide this assurance. Some scholars have even maintained that the primary connotation of the phrase “born of the Virgin Mary” in the Apostles’ Creed was this same insistence by the church upon the authentic manhood of Jesus. That insistence has been the irreducible minimum in all the theories about Mary that have appeared in Christian history. Her role as mother takes precedence over any of the other roles assigned to her in devotion and in dogma. Those who deny the virgin birth usually claim to do so in the interest of true humanity, seeing a contradiction between the idea of Jesus as the human son of a human mother and the idea that he did not have a human father. Those who defend the virgin birth usually maintain that the true humanity was made possible when the Virgin Mary accepted her commission as the guarantee of the Incarnation (Luke 1:38): “Let it be with me according to your word.” This is the original source of the title co-redemptrix—indicating some participation with Christ in the redemption of humankind—assigned to Mary in Roman Catholic theology, though the term has come to connote a more active role by her; the precise nature of this participation is still a matter of controversy among Catholic theologians.
By far the most voluminous narratives about Mary in the New Testament are the infancy stories in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. In their present form, both accounts make a point of asserting that Jesus was conceived in the womb of Mary without any human agency (Matthew 1:18 ff.; Luke 1:34 ff.), yet the many textual variants in Matthew 1:16, some of them with the words “Joseph begat Jesus,” have caused some scholars to question whether such an assertion was part of Matthew’s original account. The passages in Matthew and in Luke seem to be the only references to the matter in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul nowhere mentions it; The Gospel According to Mark begins with Jesus as an adult, and The Gospel According to John, which begins with his prehistorical existence, does not allude to the virgin birth, unless a variant of John 1:13 that reads “…who was born” rather than “…who were born” is followed. Matthew does not attach any theological significance to the miracle, but it is possible that the words of the angel in Luke 1:35 are intended to connect the holiness of the child with the virginity of the mother. In postbiblical Christian literature the most voluminous discussions of Mary have been those dealing with her virginity. On the basis of the New Testament, it was the unanimous teaching of all the orthodox Fathers of the Church that Mary conceived Jesus with her virginity unimpaired, a teaching enshrined in the early Christian creeds and concurred in by the 16th-century reformers as well as by most Protestant churches and believers since the Reformation.
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One of the interpretations of the person and work of Jesus Christ in the New Testament is the formulation of parallels between him and Adam: “for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:22). Decisive in the parallel is the contrast between the disobedience of Adam, by which sin came into the world, and the obedience of Christ, by which salvation from sin was accomplished (Romans 5:12–19). Whether or not the story of the Annunciation in the first chapter of the Gospel According to Luke is intended to suggest a similar parallel between Eve and Mary, this did soon become a theme of Christian reflection. Writing at about the end of the 2nd century, the Church Father St. Irenaeus elaborated the parallel between Eve, who, as a virgin, had disobeyed the word of God, and Mary, who, also as a virgin, had obeyed it:
for Adam had necessarily to be restored in Christ, that mortality be absorbed in immortality, and Eve in Mary, that a virgin, become the advocate of a virgin, should undo and destroy virginal disobedience by virginal obedience.
- Jaroslav Jan Pelikan
- Despite Mary’s Fears, She Trusted God’s Word and Guidance for Her Life. When Mary received the angel Gabriel’s message that she would conceive Jesus through the Holy Spirit, she was afraid.
- In the Midst of Mary’s Trials, She Continued to Praise God. In the midst of Mary’s life-changing news that she would give birth to the Messiah, she continued to praise God.
- Mary’s Suffering Drew Her Closer to God. Being the mother of Jesus was Mary’s greatest honor and ultimate source of suffering. She witnessed Jesus endure intense ridicule, opposition, and crucifixion.
- Mary Trusted God in the Unknown. Although Mary’s path was unknown, she surrendered and trusted God moving forward. It is easy to trust God when things are going well and your next step is clear.
- Philip C. Almond
- She was an accidental virgin. The gospel of Matthew is the only one to tell us Mary was pregnant before she and Joseph had sex. She was said to be “with child from the Holy Spirit”.
- She was a perpetual virgin. Within early Christian doctrine, Mary remained a virgin during and after the birth of Jesus. This was perhaps only fitting for someone deemed “the mother of God” or “God-bearer”.
- She was immaculately conceived. Within Western theology, it was generally recognised from the time of Saint Ambrose that Mary never committed a sin. But was her sinlessness in this life because she was born without “original sin”?
- She ascended into heaven. The early centuries of the Christian tradition were silent on the death of Mary. But by the seventh and eighth centuries, the belief in the bodily ascension of Mary into heaven, had taken a firm hold in both the Western and Eastern Churches.
Sep 10, 2020 · Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, was a young Jewish girl who trusted in God and obeyed his call. She was the only human being to be with Jesus throughout his entire life and to bear him as her baby. She submitted to God's plan of pain and suffering, yet rejoiced in his glory.
Dec 29, 2020 · Mary, the mother of Jesus, “loved God and wanted to serve Him with all her heart.” Luke recounts how Mary was told by the angel that she would become the mother of Immanuel. “‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled’” ( Luke 1:38 ). Where Was Mother Mary From?
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