Mary (mother of Jesus)

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Virgin Mary, Saint Mary, and Saint Mary the Virgin redirect here. For other uses, see Virgin Mary (disambiguation) or Mary Magdalene.
Image:Virgen de guadalupe.jpg
Mary, depicted as Virgin of Guadalupe

According to the New Testament, Mary (Judeo-Aramaic מרים Maryām "Bitter"; Arabic مريم (Maryam); Septuagint Greek Μαριάμ, Mariam, Μαρία, Maria; Ge'ez: ማሪያም, Māryām; Syriac: Mart Maryam), was the mother of Jesus of Nazareth, who at the time of his conception was the betrothed wife of Saint Joseph (cf. Matt 1:18-20, Luke 1:35). According to non-canonical works, her parents were Saint Joachim and Saint Anne. According to the Gospel of Luke, Mary, a virgin, learned from the angel Gabriel that she would conceive Jesus, through the Holy Spirit.

Mary is the subject of much veneration in the Christian faith, particularly in the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox Church, and is highly regarded by Protestants and Muslims. The area of Christian theology concerning her is known as Mariology. The feast of the nativity of Mary is celebrated in the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Anglican Churches on 8 September. The Orthodox and Catholic Churches also celebrate many other feast days in honour of Mary.

Contents

[edit] Titles given to Mary

Image:VirgenNino.jpg
Virgin and Child. Wall painting from the early catacombs, Rome, 4th century.
Main articles: Blessed Virgin Mary and Theotokos

Mary's most common titles include The Blessed Virgin Mary or Our Lady (Notre Dame, Nuestra Señora, Madonna).

Mary is frequently referred to by the Orthodox Church and related traditions within the Catholic Church as Theotokos, a title recognized at the Third Ecumenical Council held at Ephesus, against the teachings of Nestorius, in 431. Theotokos is often translated into English as "Mother of God," or more literally as "Godbearer". The name was used theologically to emphasize that Mary's child, Jesus Christ, was in fact God (Denziger §111a). That Council clarified that the Church Fathers "did not hesitate to speak of the holy Virgin as the Mother of God" (ibid.).

[edit] Historical records

[edit] Mary in the New Testament

Image:Annunciation.jpg
Gabriel delivering the Annunciation to Mary. Painting by El Greco (1575)

Little is known of Mary's personal history from the New Testament. She was a relative of Elizabeth, wife of the priest Zechariah of the priestly division of Abijah, who herself was of the lineage of Aaron (Luke 1:5; 1:36). Mary resided at Nazareth in Galilee, presumably with her parents, while betrothed to Joseph of the House of David (Luke 1:26). Some conservative Christian scholars suggest that she, like Joseph, was also a descendant of King David (Many speculate that due to linguistic stylings of the time, the genealogy presented in Matthew may have been Mary's). During their 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 (the Annunciation, Luke 1:35). 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 (Matthew 1:18-25 - Matthew's account of the Nativity of Jesus).

Image:DARET Jacques Visitation.jpg
Visitation, from Altarpiece of the Virgin (St Vaast Altarpiece) by Jacques Daret

Since the angel had told Mary that Elizabeth, having previously been barren, was now miraculously pregnant, Mary then hurried to visit Elizabeth, who was living with her husband Zechariah in a city of Judah "in the hill country" (Luke 1:39). Once Mary arrived at the house and greeted Elizabeth, Elizabeth proclaimed Mary as "the mother of [her] Lord", and Mary (or possibly Elizabeth) recited a hymn of thanksgiving (Luke 1:46-56) commonly known as the Magnificat from its first word in Latin. After three months, Mary returned to her house (Luke 1:56-57). According to The Gospel of Luke, a decree of the Roman emperor Augustus (Luke 2:1) required that Joseph and his betrothed should proceed to Bethlehem for an enrollment. While they were there, Mary gave birth to Jesus; but because there was no place for them in the inn, she had to use a manger as a crib.

After eight days, the boy was circumcised and called Jesus, in accordance with the instructions that the "angel of the Lord" had given to Joseph after the Annunciation to Mary. These customary ceremonies were followed by Jesus's presentation to the Lord at the Temple in Jerusalem in accordance with the law for the firstborn, then the visit of the Magi, the family's flight into Egypt, their return after the death of King Herod the Great about 2/1 BC and taking up residence in Nazareth (Matthew 2). Mary apparently remained in Nazareth for some thirty uneventful years. She is involved in the only event in Jesus' early adult 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 and being found among the teachers in the temple (Luke 2:41-52). Probably some time between this event and the opening of Jesus' public ministry Mary was widowed, for Joseph is not mentioned again.

After Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist and his temptations by the devil in the desert, Mary was present when Jesus worked his first public miracle at the marriage in Cana by turning water into wine at her intercession (John 2:1-11). Subsequently there are events when Mary is present along with Jesus' "brothers" (James, Joseph, Simon and Judas) and unnamed "sisters" (Matthew 13:54–56; Mark 6:3; Acts 1:14; see perpetual virginity for alternate translations). Mary is also depicted as being present during the crucifixion standing near "the disciple whom Jesus loved" along with her sister Mary of Clopas (possibly identical with the mother of James the younger and Joseph mentioned in Matthew 27:55, cf. Mark 15:40), and Mary Magdalene (John 19:25-26), to which list Matthew 27:55 adds "the mother of the sons of Zebedee", presumably the Salome mentioned in Mark 15:40, and other women who had followed Jesus from Galilee and ministered to him (mentioned in Matthew and Mark). Mary, cradling the dead body of her Son, while not recorded in the Gospel accounts, is a common motif in art, called a "pietà" or "piety".

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

Her death is not recorded in Scripture.

[edit] Later Christian writings and traditions

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

According to Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox tradition, between three and fifteen years after Christ's Ascension, in either Jerusalem or Ephesus, Mary died; while surrounded by the apostles. Later, when the apostles opened her tomb, they found it empty, and concluded that she had been bodily assumed into Heaven. "Mary's Tomb", a tomb in Jerusalem, is attributed to Mary, but it was unknown until the 6th century. The House of the Virgin Mary near Ephesus, Turkey, is believed by some to be the place where Mary lived until her assumption into Heaven. The Gospel of John states that Mary went to live with Disciple whom Jesus loved (John 19:27) who is traditionally identified as John the Apostle, and early writers stated that John went later to Ephesus<ref>Irenaeus, Adv Haer III,1,1; Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History, III,1</ref>, which may provide the basis for the early belief that Mary lived also in Ephesus with John.

[edit] Mary in the Qur'an

And We Made son of Mary and his mother a Sign ... (23.50)

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

She is the only woman directly named in the Book; declared (uniquely along with Jesus) to be a Ayat Allah or Sign of The God to mankind (23.50); as one who "guarded her chastity" (66.12); an obedient one (66.12); chosen of her mother and dedicated to Allah whilst still in the womb to the-God (3.36); uniquely (amongst women) Accepted into service by Allah (3.37); cared for by (one of the prophets as per Islam) Zakariya (Zecharias) (3:37); that in her childhood she resided in the Temple and uniquely had access to Al-Mihrab (understood to be the Holy of Holies), and was provided with heavenly 'provisions' by Allah (3:37); a Chosen One (3.42); a Purified One (3.42); a Truthful one (5.75); a fulfillment of Prophecy (66.12); a vessel for the Spirit of The-God breathed into her (66.12); her child conceived through "a Word from The-God" (3.45); and "exalted above all women of The Worlds/Universes" (3.42).

The Qur'an relates detailed narrative accounts of Maryam (Mary) in two places: 3:35-47 and 19:16-34.

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

The account in (Sura 3 of) the Qur'an tracks the accounts in Apocrypha, namely the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew and the Gospel of James, regarding the use of "rods" to determine a guardian/husband after she reached the age of puberty (3.44), and, the account of the scandal caused upon the discovery of her with child (19.27-28), both of which are not recorded in the canonical Gospels.

[edit] Christian and Muslim beliefs about Mary

[edit] Immaculate Conception of Mary

Main article: Immaculate Conception

The Immaculate Conception is the doctrine that states that Mary was filled with grace from the very moment of her conception in her mother's womb. Only the Roman Catholic Church has officially adopted this teaching, and the title "Immaculate Conception" is one used only by Catholics.

Eastern Orthodox Christians tend to reject the Immaculate Conception, principally because their understanding of original sin differs from that of the Catholic Church, but also on the basis that without original sin (i.e. fallen human nature), Mary would have likewise been separated from the rest of us by a special condition. The Orthodox believe that Mary was conceived like any one of us, inherited the sin of Adam, but was cleansed from it when Christ God took form within her. This, coupled with the belief that she never committed any sin made her the perfect vessel.

Most Protestants reject the idea that Mary was saved by God from her very first moment, since this is impossible according to Protestant theology and, in their view, lacks scriptural precedent.

The Roman Catholic Church observes the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th. Similarly, the Orthodox Church observes the Feast of the Conception by Saint Anna of the Most Holy Theotokos on December 9t

[edit] Virgin Birth of Jesus

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Mary, Virgin of the Passion. Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai, Egypt, 16th century.
Main articles: Nativity of Jesus and Virgin Birth

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

The Gospel of Matthew describes Mary as a virgin who fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14. The Hebrew word almah that appears in this verse, and the Greek word parthenos that Jews used to translate it in the Greek Septuagint that Matthew quotes here, have been the subjects of dispute for almost two millennia. This disagreement is related to the question of whether Isaiah 7:14 is a prophecy of Jesus' birth. Regardless of the meaning of this verse, it is clear that the authors of the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke asserted that Mary had "no relations with man" before Jesus' birth.

People who are neither Christians nor Muslims generally doubt that Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus. An early view critical of the virgin birth suggests that Mary had relations with a Roman soldier and then married Joseph who protected her from the harsh Jewish laws of the time which would have sentenced her to death by stoning for such an act. This version is recorded by Origen in the third century and attributed to Celsus of the second century, who said he heard it from a Jew, in Origen's Contra Celsum 1.28-32. Also see: Illegitimacy of Jesus: A Feminist Theological Interpretation of the Infancy Narratives (Biblical Seminar Series, No 28), Jane Schaberg, ISBN 1-85075-533-7.

Furthermore, some scholars working in the fields of history and biblical criticism have questioned the historical validity of the virgin birth. Fellows of the Jesus Seminar almost unanimously agreed that Mary conceived Jesus through natural means, namely sexual intercourse with a man. They speculate that the father could have been "Joseph or some unknown male who either seduced or raped the young Mary." <ref>Robert W. Funk and the Jesus Seminar. The Acts of Jesus: The Search for the Authentic Deeds of Jesus. HarperSanFrancisco: 1998. p. 533</ref> Other scholars, such as Bart D. Ehrman, suggest the historical method can never comment on the likelihood of supernatural occurrences.

While parthenogenesis (virginal conception) is not unknown, it does not occur naturally in human beings.

[edit] Virgin birth of Jesus in the Qu'ran

The Qur'an says that Jesus was the result of a virgin birth, but that neither Mary nor her son was divine, but merely "honoured servants" (21.26). The most detailed account of the annunciation and birth of Jesus is provided in Sura 3 and 19 of The Qur'an wherein it is written that God sent an angel to announce that she could shortly expect to bear a son, despite being a virgin:

(Remember) When the angels said O Mary! Allah Gives thee Good News of a son through a Word from Him! His name shall be the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, honoured in this world and in the next, and of those who Are Granted Nearness to Allah! (3.45)
And he shall speak to the people in the cradle, and when of middle age, and he shall be of The Righteous (3.46)
She said My Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has touched me ? He Said, That is as it shall be. Allah Creates what He Pleases. When HE decrees a thing HE says to it "Be" and it is! (3.47)

[edit] Perpetual virginity

Main article: Perpetual virginity of Mary

That Mary remained a virgin after the birth of Jesus is a doctrinal stance of the Catholic, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches. The question of Mary's virginity is related to the interpretation of the New Testament references to Jesus' "brothers". Those who defend the doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity point out that Aramaic, the language spoken by Christ and his disciples, lacked a specific word for "cousin," so that the word "brother" was used instead. This is also true in Hebrew and there are several places in the Old Testament that use the word "brother" to mean nephew or cousin. Others argue that Jesus' "brothers" were sons of Joseph by a previous wife -- and thus Jesus' stepbrothers, who would have been regarded as his half-brothers by the people Jesus and Mary lived alongside, who were unaware of Jesus' divinity and assumed him to be the son of Joseph. Matthew 13:56 and Mark 6:3 also mention the presence of "sisters" in addition to the "brothers."

The most prominent leaders of the Reformation, Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin also defended the perpetual virginity of Mary against those who questioned it.[citation needed] But by the 17th century, the Catholic and Protestant churches came to see Mary as a major point of division, and Protestant theologians began arguing that Mary did not remain a virgin and that the "brothers" of Jesus were indeed his biological half-brothers, sons of Mary and Joseph. Despite the beliefs of these notable Reformers, today most Protestants reject the doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity. Influenced by concerns of too much emphasis on Mary on the part of Catholicism, and finding no explicit scriptural mention of Mary not having other children, yet references in the NT that can be interpreted as referring to blood brothers of Christ, modern-day Protestants reject this doctrine. Proponents claim there is implicit evidence of Jesus being without living brothers or sisters at the time of his crucifixion in that Jesus entrusts his mother to John. They say this would not be done if a relative of Mary were able to take her into his or her own family. However, it is also said that Jesus' brothers were not believers (John 7:5) until after the resurrection (Acts 1:14), so some believe Jesus entrusts Mary to the beloved disciple (traditionally St. John), for that reason.

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

[edit] Dormition and Assumption

Image:Assumption.jpg
This painting, attributed to Bartolome Murillo, depicts Mary's Assumption into heaven with her body and soul.
Main article: Assumption of Mary

For Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholics alike, Mary's assumption into heaven, is seen as an instance of the resurrection of the body, a belief integral to Christian theology and found in the creeds.

[edit] The doctrine in Roman Catholicism

The belief in the corporeal assumption of Mary was formally declared to be dogma by Pope Pius XII in 1950. Pope Pius XII states in Munificentissimus Deus: "[W]e pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory. Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith." This is an example of an invocation of papal infallibility. The Feast of the Assumption is celebrated on August 15.

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

[edit] The doctrine in Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy

The Eastern Orthodox Churches teach that Mary died, and that after her death and burial, she was not resurrected but that her body was miraculously transported into heaven, as were the bodies of Enoch, Moses and Elijah. This two-fold event is celebrated as the Dormition ("falling asleep") of the Theotokos. The Feast of the Dormition is celebrated on August 15, and is preceded by a fourteen day fast from meat and dairy products, the fourth longest fast of the liturgical year after The Great Fast proceeding Pascha (Easter), the Nativity Fast proceeding Christ's Birth, and the variable fast (2 to 6 weeks long) proceeding the feast day of Sts. Peter & Paul. The Coptic Church celebrates the feast of the assumption of her body on August 22.

[edit] The doctrine in Anglicanism

Anglo-Catholic Anglicans have a "higher" Mariology than do other non-Roman Catholics (with the exception of the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches). Optional feast days such as the Assumption (August 15) are celebrated by some Anglicans. Most Anglicans, however, hold that Mary died and that after her death was buried. Her soul was transported to heaven without her body. The Churches of the Anglican Communion celebrate the Purification of St. Mary the Virgin (February 2) and the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary (March 25) as principal feasts of the Church, and the Church of England requires that the Holy Communion be celebrated in every parish church on these two feasts. Until the revision of the Church's Calendar at the turn of the millennium, the main feast of St. Mary was her Nativity (September 8); however, the introduction of the celebration of the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary on August 15 brought the Church of England into line with the major part of Christianity which treats that day as the major feast of Mary.

[edit] Religious attitudes towards Mary

[edit] Veneration of Mary: Divisions Among Christians

Image:Madonna catacomb.jpg
The oldest-known image of Mary depicts her nursing the Infant Jesus. 2nd century, Catacomb of Priscilla, Rome.

Roman Catholic, Orthodox and some Anglican Christians venerate Mary, as do the non-Chalcedonian or Oriental Orthodox, a communion of churches that has been traditionally deemed monophysite (such as the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt and the Ethiopian Tewahedo Church). This veneration especially takes the form of prayer for intercession with her Son, Jesus Christ. Additionally it includes composing poems and songs in Mary's honor, painting icons or carving statues representing her, slightly kneeling before such images as a token of respect to the one portrayed by them, and conferring titles on Mary that reflect her position among the saints. She is also one of the most highly venerated saints in both the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox Church; several major feast days are devoted to her each year. (See Liturgical year.) Protestants have generally paid only a small amount of reverence to the Blessed Virgin compared to their Anglican, Catholic, and Orthodox counterparts, often arguing that if too much attention is focused on Mary, there is a danger of detracting from the worship due to God alone. By contrast, certain documents of the Second Vatican Council, such as chapter VIII of the dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium [1] describe Mary as higher than all other created beings, even angels: "she far surpasses all creatures, both in heaven and on earth"; but still in the final analysis, a created being, solely human - not divine - in her nature. On this showing, Catholic traditionalists would argue that there is no conflation [2] of the human and divine levels in their veneration of Mary.

Image:NFromentBurningBush1476.jpg
Moses and the Burning Bush: Nicolas Froment, 1476: a major commission from René I of Naples for the cathedral at Aix-en-Provence shows the apparition in the Burning Bush as the Blessed Virgin in a bower of flaming roses.

The major origin and impetus of veneration of Mary comes from the Christological controversies of the early church - many debates denying in some way the divinity or humanity of Jesus Christ. So not only would one side affirm that Jesus was indeed God, but would assert the conclusion that Mary was the mother of God, although some Protestants prefer to use the term God-bearer better. Catholics and Protestants agree however, that "Mother of God" is not intended to imply that Mary in any way gave Jesus his Divinity.

Image:Mothermary.jpg
A picture of Holy Mary in Madaba church, Jordan

Both Roman Catholics and Orthodox, and especially Anglicans, make a clear distinction between such veneration (which is also due to the other saints) and adoration which is due to God alone. (The term worship is used by some theologians to subsume both sacrificial worship and worship of praise, e.g. Orestes Brownson in his book Saint Worship. The word "worship", while commonly used in place of "adoration" in the modern English vernacular, strictly speaking implies nothing more than the acknowledgement of "worth-ship" or worthiness, and thus means no more than the giving of honor where honor is due [e.g. the use of "Your Worship" as a form of address to judges in certain English legal traditions]. "Worship" has never been used in this sense in Catholic literature when referring to the veneration of the Blessed Virgin). Mary, they point out, is not divine, and has only such powers to help as are granted to her by God in response to her prayers. Such miracles as may occur through Mary's intercession are ultimately the result of God's love and omnipotence. Traditionally, Catholic theologians have distinguished three forms of honor: latria, due only to God, and usually translated by the English word adoration; hyperdulia, accorded only to the Blessed Virgin Mary, usually translated simply as veneration; and dulia, accorded to the rest of the saints, also usually translated as veneration. The Orthodox distinguish between worship and veneration but do not use the "hyper"-veneration terminology when speaking of the Theotokos. Protestants tend to consider "dulia" too similar to "latria".

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

Image:Giant-mary.jpg
Image from 17th century Peruvian cult

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

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

  • Norman F. Cantor, The Civilization of the Middle Ages 1993

[edit] Joint Anglican-Roman Catholic document

Image:Vladimirskaya.jpg
Our Lady of Vladimir, one of the holiest medieval representations of the Virgin.

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

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

[edit] Mary in other religions

Some followers of non-Abrahamic religions, particularly followers of Wicca, link Mary to the Earth Mother of various Neo-pagan traditions. Some Buddhists have even been known to link Mary to Kwan-Yin, a Bodhisattva of compassion venerated by various Chinese Buddhist faiths. Followers of Santería identify Mary (as Our Lady of Regla) with the goddess Yemaja, and (as "Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre") with Oshun.

[edit] Current attitudes towards Mary

Mary is the focus of original research both by church authorities and other scholars. She is also the focus of religious devotion for the faithful mostly but not entirely within the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches.

This has allowed the concept of her to remain safely ensconced within intellectual analysis and interpretation and the religious imagination.

However recently reported Marian apparitions [3] of her have led [4] to a renewal of real mystical devotion [5] based on her claimed messages at the potential expense of church and other authority.

[edit] Portrayals

Mary has been portrayed in several films:

[edit] See also

[edit] Footnotes

<references/>

[edit] Further reading

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

[edit] External links

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Mary (mother of Jesus)

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