Mary, mother of Jesus

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Mary
Glenbeigh St. James' Church Nave Triple Window Immaculata 2012 09 09.jpg
Mary depicted in stained glass at St. James' Church in Glenbeigh, Ireland
Born September 8 (traditional; Nativity of Mary) c. 18 BC[1]
Home town
Spouse(s) Joseph
Children
  • Jesus (undisputed according to Bible, Qur'an and some denominational Tradition)
and several more (disputed, according to Bible)
Parent(s) unknown, Joachim and Anne (highly disputed, according to apocryphal gospels and some denominational traditions)

Mary (Greek: Μαρία, translit. María; Aramaic: ܡܪܝܡ‎, translit. Mariam; Hebrew: מִרְיָם‎, translit. Miriam‎; Arabic: مريم‎, translit. Maryam), also known by various titles, styles and honorifics, was a 1st-century BC Galilean Jewish[2] woman of Nazareth, and the mother of Jesus, according to the New Testament and the Holy Quran.[3][4]

The gospels of Matthew and Luke in the New Testament and the Quran describe Mary as a virgin (Greek: παρθένος, translit. parthénos)[5] and Christians believe that she conceived her son while a virgin by the Holy Spirit. The miraculous conception took place when she was already betrothed to Joseph and was awaiting the concluding rite of marriage, the formal home-taking ceremony.[6] She married Joseph and accompanied him to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born.[7]

The Gospel of Luke begins its account of Mary's life with the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced her divine selection to be the mother of Jesus. According to canonical gospel accounts, Mary was present at the crucifixion and is depicted as a member of the early Christian community in Jerusalem. According to the Catholic and Orthodox teaching, at the end of her earthly life her body was assumed directly into Heaven; this is known in the Christian West 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. She is claimed to have miraculously appeared to believers many times over the centuries. The Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches believe that Mary, as mother of Jesus, is the Mother of God (Greek: Θεοτόκος, translit. Theotokos, lit. 'God-bearer'). 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 (Arabic: مريم‎, translit. Maryam) also has a revered position in Islam, where one of the longer chapters of the Quran is devoted to her.

Names and titles

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

Mary's name in the original manuscripts of the New Testament was based on her original Aramaic name מרים‎, translit. Maryam or Mariam.[14] 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

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 the Blessed Virgin Mary (often abbreviated to "BVM"), Saint Mary (occasionally), the Mother of God (primarily in Western Christianity), the Theotokos (primarily in Eastern Christianity), Our Lady (Medieval Italian: Madonna), and Queen of Heaven (Latin: Regina Coeli),[15][16] although the title "Queen of Heaven" was also a name for a pagan goddess being worshipped during the prophet Jeremiah's lifetime (Jeremiah 44:17-19.) Titles in use vary among Anglicans, Lutherans, Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Mormons, and other Christians.

The three main titles for Mary used by the Orthodox are Theotokos (Greek: Θεοτόκος, lit. 'God-bearer' or loosely "Mother of God"), Aeiparthenos (Greek: ἀειπαρθὲνος, lit. 'Ever-virgin') as confirmed in the Second Council of Constantinople in 553, and Panagia (Greek: Παναγία, lit. 'All-holy').[17] Catholics use a wide variety of titles for Mary, and these titles have in turn given rise to many artistic depictions. For example, the title Our Lady of Sorrows has inspired such masterpieces as Michelangelo's Pietà.[18]

The title Theotokos was recognized at the Council of Ephesus in 431. The direct equivalents of title in Latin are Deipara and Dei Genetrix, although the phrase is more often loosely translated into Latin as Mater Dei (Mother of God), with similar patterns for other languages used in the Latin Church. However, this same phrase in Greek (Μήτηρ Θεοῦ), in the abbreviated form ΜΡ ΘΥ, is an indication commonly 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".[19][20][21]

Some Marian titles have a direct scriptural 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 ancestral descent from King David. The scriptural basis for the term "Queen" can be seen in Luke 1:32 and the Isaiah 9:6. "Queen Mother" can be found in 1 Kings 2:19-20 and Jeremiah 13:18-19.[22] Other titles have arisen from reported miracles, special appeals, or occasions for calling on Mary. To give a few examples, Our Lady of Good Counsel, Our Lady of Navigators, and Our Lady Undoer of Knots fit this description.[23][24][25][26]

In Islam

In Islam, she is known as Maryam (Arabic: مريم‎, translit. Maryām), mother of Isa (Arabic: عيسى بن مريم‎, translit. ʿĪsā ibn Maryām, lit. 'Jesus, son of Mary'). She is often referred to by the honorific title sayyidatuna, meaning "our lady"; this title is in parallel to sayyiduna ("our lord"), used for the prophets.[27] A related term of endearment is Siddiqah,[28] meaning "she who confirms the truth" and "she who believes sincerely completely". Another title for Mary is Qānitah, which signifies both constant submission to God and absorption in prayer and invocation in Islam.[29] She is also called "Tahira", meaning "one who has been purified" and representing her status as one of two humans in creation (and the only woman) to not be touched by Satan at any point.[30]

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.

Genealogy

The New Testament tells little of Mary's early history. John 19:25 states that Mary had a sister; semantically it is unclear if this sister is the same as Mary the wife of Clopas or if she is left unnamed. Jerome identifies Mary of Cleopas as the sister of Mary, mother of Jesus.[34] According to the early second-century historian Hegesippus, Mary of Clopas was likely Mary's sister-in-law, understanding Clopas (Cleophas) to have been Joseph's brother.[35]

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, while the genealogy from Solomon given in Matthew 1 is that of Joseph.[36][37][38] (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]

Annunciation

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

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, after initially expressing incredulity at the announcement, she responded, "I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done unto me according to your word."[39] Joseph planned to quietly divorce her, but was told her conception was by the Holy Spirit in a dream by "an angel of the Lord"; the angel told him to not hesitate to take her as his wife, which Joseph did, thereby formally completing the wedding rites.[40][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".[41] 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]

Birth of Jesus

A nativity scene in France. Santons featuring the Virgin Mary.

According to the Gospel of Luke, a decree of the Roman Emperor Augustus required that Joseph return to his hometown of Bethlehem to register for a Roman census. 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.[42]:p.14 [2:1ff] After eight days, he was circumcised according to Jewish law, and named "Jesus" (Hebrew: ישוע‎, translit. Yeshua‎), which means "Yahweh is salvation".[43]

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]

According to the author of the gospel according to Matthew, the Magi arrived at Bethlehem where Jesus and his family were living. Joseph was warned in a dream that King Herod wanted to murder the infant, and the Holy Family fled by night to Egypt and stayed there for some time. After Herod's death in 4 BC, they returned to the land of Israel. Because Herod's son Archelaus was ruler of Judaea, they did not return to Bethlehem, but took up residence in Nazareth in Galilee instead.[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.[44]: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.[45] Following Jerome, the Church Fathers interpreted the words translated as "brother" and "sister" as referring to close relatives.[46][47]

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'."[48][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",[49] and the famous quote: "A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home."[50]

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.[51][52] 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 Olivet. 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 a dogma of the Catholic Church, in the Latin and Eastern Catholic Churches alike, and is believed as well by the Eastern Orthodox Church,[53][54] the Coptic Orthodox Church, and parts of the Anglican Communion and Continuing Anglican movement.[55]

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.[56]

Some apocryphal accounts state that at the time of her betrothal to Joseph, Mary was 12–14 years old, and he was ninety years old, but such accounts are unreliable.[57] According to ancient Jewish custom, Mary could have been betrothed at about 12.[58] Hyppolitus of Thebes claims that Mary lived for 11 years after the death of her son Jesus, dying in 41 AD.[59]

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.[60][61][62]

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.[63][64] 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.[65][66][67][68] 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.[69][70]

Perspectives on Mary

Blessed Virgin Mary
Sassoferrato - Jungfrun i bön.jpg
The Virgin in Prayer, by Sassoferrato, c. 1650
Western Christianity:
Mother of God, Queen of Heaven, Mother of the Church (see Titles of Mary)
Eastern Christianity:
Theotokos
Islam:
Sayyidatna ("Our Lady"), Greatest Woman, the Chosen One, the Purified One
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, woman trampling serpent, crescent moon, woman clothed with the sun, heart pierced by sword, rosary beads
Patronage See Patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Christian

Chinese Madonna, St. Francis' Church, Macao

Christian Marian perspectives include a great deal of diversity. While some Christians such as Catholics and Eastern Orthodox have well established Marian traditions, Protestants at large pay scant attention to Mariological themes. 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.[16][17][18][71]

Catholic

In the Catholic Church, Mary is accorded the title "Blessed" (Latin: beata, Greek: μακάρια, translit. makaria) in recognition of her assumption to Heaven and her capacity to intercede on behalf of those who pray to her. There is a difference between the usage of the term "blessed" as pertaining to Mary and its usage as pertaining to a