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Mary, mother of Jesus

Religious figure; mother of Jesus of Nazareth

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Mary
Our Lady of Sorrows, by Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato, 17th century
BornDate unknown; traditionally celebrated 8 September (Nativity of Mary) c. 18 BC[1]
DiedUnknown, after c. 30/33 AD
Spouse(s)Joseph
ChildrenJesus,[a] possibly the brothers and sisters of Jesus.
Parent(s)Unknown; according to some apocryphal writings: Joachim and Anne[b]

Mary[c] was a 1st century Galilean Jewish woman of Nazareth,[2][3] the wife of Joseph and the mother of Jesus, according to the canonical gospels and the Quran.

According to Christian theology, Mary conceived Jesus through the Holy Spirit while still a virgin, and accompanied Joseph to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born.[4] Both the gospels of Matthew and Luke in the New Testament and the Quran describe Mary as a virgin,[d] and as being betrothed to Joseph, also in Matthew and Luke.[6]

According to Catholic and Eastern Christian teachings, at the end of her earthly life, God raised Mary's body directly into heaven; this is known in the Christian West as the Assumption of Mary.[7][8]

Mary has been venerated since early Christianity,[9][10] and is considered by millions to be the most meritorious saint of the religion. She is said to have miraculously appeared to believers many times over the centuries. The Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches believe that Mary, as mother of Jesus, is the Theotokos (Mother of God; Θεοτόκος). There is significant diversity in the Marian beliefs and devotional practices of major Christian traditions. The 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.[11] Many Protestants minimize Mary's role within Christianity, basing their argument on the lack of biblical support for any beliefs other than the virgin birth (actually a virginal conception).[12] Mary also has the highest position in Islam among all women.[13][14][15] She is mentioned in the Quran more often than in the New Testament,[16] where two of the longer chapters of the Quran are devoted to her and her family.[17]

Mary, mother of Jesus Intro articles: 28

Names and titles

Virgin and Child with angels and Sts. George and Theodore. Icon, c. 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, transliterated as "Maryam" or "Mariam".[18] The English name "Mary" comes from the Greek Μαρία, a shortened form of the name Μαριάμ. Both Μαρία and Μαριάμ appear in the New Testament.

In Christianity

Madonna on Floral Wreath by Peter Paul Rubens with Jan Brueghel the Elder, c. 1619

In Christianity, Mary is commonly referred to as the Virgin Mary, in accordance with the belief that the Holy Spirit impregnated her, thereby conceiving her first-born son Jesus miraculously, without sexual relations with her betrothed/husband Joseph, "until her son [Jesus] was born" (Matthew 1:25).[19] The word "until" has inspired considerable analysis on whether Joseph and Mary produced siblings after the birth of Jesus or not.[e] Among her many other names and titles are the Blessed Virgin Mary (often abbreviated to "BVM", or "BMV" after the Latin "Beata Maria Virgo"),[21] 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 (Regina caeli),[22][23] although the title "queen of heaven" was for centuries before used as an epithet for a number of ancient sky-goddesses, such as Nin-anna, Astarte, Ishtar and Astoreth, the Canaanite sky-goddess worshipped during the Hebrew prophet Jeremiah's lifetime.[24]

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 (Θεοτόκος or loosely "Mother of God"), Aeiparthenos (ἀειπαρθὲνος) as confirmed in the Second Council of Constantinople in 553, and Panagia (Παναγία).[25] 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.[26]

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".[27][28][29]

Some Marian titles have a direct scriptural basis. For instance, the title "Queen Mother" has been given to Mary, as she was the mother of Jesus, sometimes referred to as the "King of Kings" due to his ancestral descent from King David.[30][31][32][33][34] Other titles have arisen from reported miracles, special appeals, or occasions for calling on Mary.[f]

In Islam

In Islam, Mary is known as Maryam (Arabic: مريم‎, romanizedMaryām), mother of Isa (عيسى بن مريم). 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.[39] A related term of endearment is "Siddiqah",[40] 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.[41] 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.[42]

Mary, mother of Jesus Names and titles articles: 42

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. The Gospel of Matthew does give a genealogy for Jesus by his father's paternal line, only identifying Mary as the wife of Joseph. John 19:25 states that Mary had a sister; semantically it is unclear if this sister is the same as Mary of Clopas, or if she is left unnamed. Jerome identifies Mary of Clopas as the sister of Mary, mother of Jesus.[46] According to the early 2nd century historian Hegesippus, Mary of Clopas was likely Mary's sister-in-law, understanding Clopas (Cleophas) to have been Joseph's brother.[47]

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 royal 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.[48][49][50] (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."[51] 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.[52][Mt 1:18-25]

Since the angel Gabriel had told Mary that Elizabeth—having previously been barren—was then miraculously pregnant,[53] Mary hurried to see Elizabeth, who was living with her husband Zechariah in "Hebron, in the hill country of Judah".[g] 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 author of the gospel according to Luke, a decree of the Roman Emperor Augustus required that Joseph return to his hometown of Bethlehem to register for a Roman census; see Census of Quirinius.[h] 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.[55]:p.14 [2:1ff] After eight days, he was circumcised according to Jewish law and named "Jesus" (ישוע), which means "Yahweh is salvation".[56]

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.[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, the family "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 family fled by night to Egypt and stayed there for some time. After Herod's death in 4 BC, they returned to Nazareth in Galilee, rather than Bethlehem, because Herod's son Archelaus was the ruler of Judaea.[Mat.2]

Mary is involved in the only event in Jesus' adolescent life that is recorded in the New Testament. At the age of 12, 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.[57]:p.210 [Lk 2:41-52]

In the life of Jesus

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.[58] Following Jerome, the Church Fathers interpreted the words translated as "brother" and "sister" as referring to close relatives.[59][60]

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'."[61][3:31-35]

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.[62][63] 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 speculate that the "elect lady" mentioned in 2 John 1:1 might 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,[64][65] the Coptic Orthodox Church, and parts of the Anglican Communion and Continuing Anglican movement.[66]

Mary, mother of Jesus New Testament articles: 68

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.[67] The idea that she was allowed in the Holy of Holies is a patent impossibility, as this likely would have constituted blasphemy for Ancient Jews.[68]

While unproven, some apocryphal accounts state that at the time of her betrothal to Joseph, Mary was 12–14 years old.[69] According to ancient Jewish custom, Mary could have been betrothed at about 12.[70] Hyppolitus of Thebes says that Mary lived for 11 years after the death of her son Jesus, dying in 41 AD.[71]

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.[72][73][74]

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.[75][76] 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.[77][78][79][80] The Gospel of John states that Mary went to live with the Disciple whom Jesus loved,[Jn 19:27] identified as John the Evangelist.[Jn 21:20-24] 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.[81][82]

Mary, mother of Jesus Later Christian writings and traditions articles: 21

Perspectives


Virgin Mary
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 inChristianity, Islam
CanonizedPre-Congregation
Major shrineSanta Maria Maggiore (See Marian shrines)
FeastSee Marian feast days
AttributesBlue 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
PatronageSee 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.[23][25][26][83]

Catholic

In the Catholic Church, Mary is accorded the title "Blessed" (beata, μακάρια) 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 beatified person. "Blessed" as a Marian title refers to her exalted state as being the greatest among the saints; for a person who has been declared beatified, on the other hand, "blessed" simply indicates that they may be venerated despite not being officially canonized. Catholic teachings make clear that Mary is not considered divine and prayers to her are not answered by her, but rather by God through her intercession.[84] The four Catholic dogmas regarding Mary are: her status as Theotokos, or Mother of God; her perpetual virginity; the Immaculate Conception; and her bodily Assumption into heaven.[85][86][87]

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.[26] The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship."[88]

For centuries, 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 Immaculate Conception. 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.[89][90]

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".[91] Marian devotions are at times linked to Christocentric devotions (such as the Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary).[92]

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.[93][94] The months of May and October are traditionally "Marian months" for Roman Catholics; the daily Rosary is encouraged in October and in May Marian devotions take place in many regions.[95][96][97] 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 Catechism refers to Mary as "honored with the title 'Mother of God,' to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs".[88][98][99][100][101] Key Marian prayers include: Ave Maria, Alma Redemptoris Mater, Sub tuum praesidium, Ave maris stella, Regina caeli, Ave Regina caelorum and the Magnificat.[102]

Mary's participation in the processes of salvation and redemption has also been emphasized in the Catholic tradition, but they are not doctrines.[103][104][105][106] 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."[107]

In the 20th century, both popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI emphasized the Marian focus of the Catholic Church. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) 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,"[108] writing:

"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.'"[108]

Eastern Orthodox

A mosaic from the Hagia Sophia of Constantinople (modern Istanbul), depicting Mary with Jesus, flanked by John II Komnenos (left) and his wife Irene of Hungary (right), c. 1118 AD
15thncentury icon of the Theotokos ("God-bearer")

Eastern Orthodox Christianity includes a large number of traditions regarding the Ever-Virgin Mary, the Theotokos.[109] The Orthodox believe that she was and remained a virgin before and after Christ's birth.[25] The Theotokia (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.[110] Within the Orthodox tradition, the order of the saints begins with: the Theotokos, Angels, Prophets, Apostles, Fathers and Martyrs, giving the Virgin Mary precedence over the angels. She is also proclaimed as the "Lady of the Angels".[110]

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 (standing hymns) is devoted to Mary and it is often simply called the Akathist Hymn.[111] Five of the twelve Great Feasts in Orthodoxy are dedicated to Mary.[25] The Sunday of Orthodoxy directly links the Virgin Mary's identity as Mother of God with icon veneration.[112] A number of Orthodox feasts are connected with the miraculous icons of the Theotokos.[110]

The Orthodox view Mary as "superior to all created beings", although not divine.[113] As such, the designation of Saint to Mary as Saint Mary is not appropriate.[114] The Orthodox does not venerate Mary as conceived immaculate. Gregory of Nazianzus, Archbishop of Constantinople in the 4th century AD, speaking on the Nativity of Jesus Christ argues that "Conceived by the Virgin, who first in body and soul was purified by the Holy Ghost, He came forth as God with that which He had assumed, One Person in two Natures, Flesh and Spirit, of which the latter defined the former."[115] The Orthodox celebrate the Dormition of the Theotokos, rather than Assumption.[25]

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 12 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.[116] 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 has written: "The Virgin Mary is the centre, 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. 650c. 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 meditative 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.[117]

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.[118]

More recently, Sergei Bulgakov expressed the Orthodox sentiments towards Mary as follows:[113]

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."

Protestant

Protestants in general reject the veneration and invocation of the Saints.[12]:1174 They share the belief that Mary is the mother of Jesus and "blessed among women"[Luke 1:42] but they generally do not agree that Mary is to be venerated. She is considered to be an outstanding example of a life dedicated to God.[119] As such, they tend not to accept certain church doctrines such as her being preserved from sin. Theologian Karl Barth wrote that "the heresy of the Catholic Church is its Mariology".[120]

Some early Protestants venerated 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."[121] However, as of 1532, Luther stopped celebrating the feast of the Assumption of Mary and also discontinued his support of the Immaculate Conception.[122] John Calvin remarked, "It cannot be denied that God in choosing and destining Mary to be the Mother of his Son, granted her the highest honor."[i] However, Calvin firmly rejected the notion that Mary can intercede between Christ and man.[125]

Although Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli honored Mary as the Mother of God in the 16th century, they did so less than Martin Luther.[126] 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.[12]

In the 20th century, some Protestants reacted in opposition to the Catholic dogma of the Assumption of Mary. The 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 dialogues between Catholics and Protestants took place, but, to date, the majority of Protestants disagree with Marian veneration and some view it as a challenge to the authority of Scripture.[12]

Anglican

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".[127] Thus unlike the Protestant churches at large, the Anglican Communion includes segments which still retain some veneration of Mary.[83]

Mary's special position within God's purpose of salvation as "God-bearer" is recognised in a number of ways by some Anglican Christians.[128] 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 2 February. The Annunciation of our Lord to the Blessed Virgin on 25 March 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 2 July is kept. The feast of the St. Mary the Virgin is observed on the traditional day of the Assumption, 15 August. The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin is kept on 8 September.[83]

The Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is kept in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, on 8 December. 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.[83]

Prayers and venerative practices vary greatly. 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 Mary reminiscent of Catholic practices.[129] Conversely, Low-church Anglicans rarely invoke the Blessed Virgin except in certain hymns, such as the second stanza of Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones.[128][130]

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.[83][131] High-church Anglicans espouse doctrines that are closer to Roman Catholics, and retain veneration for Mary, such as official Anglican pilgrimages to Our Lady of Lourdes, which have taken place since 1963, and pilgrimages to Our Lady of Walsingham, which have taken place for hundreds of years.[132]

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.[83][133]

Lutheran
Stained glass window of Jesus leaving his mother, in a Lutheran church in 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 Mother of God.[134][135] Special attention is given to the assertion that Luther, some 300 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.[136][137] 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.[138][139][140] "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."[141]

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.[142][143] 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.[144] 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.[145][146]

Certain Lutheran churches such as the Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church 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.[147]

Methodist

Methodists do not have any additional teachings on the Virgin Mary except from what is mentioned in Scripture and the ecumenical Creeds. As such, Methodists generally accept the doctrine of the virgin birth, but reject the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.[148] John Wesley, the principal founder of the Methodist movement within the Church of England, believed that Mary "continued a pure and unspotted virgin", thus upholding the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary.[149][150] Contemporary Methodism does hold that Mary was a virgin before, during, and immediately after the birth of Christ.[151][152] In addition, some Methodists also hold the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary as a pious opinion.[153]

Nontrinitarian

Nontrinitarians, such as Unitarians, Christadelphians, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Latter Day Saints[154] also acknowledge Mary as the biological mother of Jesus Christ, but most reject any immaculate conception and do not recognize Marian titles such as "Mother of God". The Latter Day Saint movement's view affirms the virgin birth of Jesus[155] and Christ's divinity, but only as a separate being than God the Father. The Book of Mormon refers to Mary by name in prophecies and describes her as "most beautiful and fair above all other virgins"[156] and as a "precious and chosen vessel."[157]

Since most non-trinitarian groups are typically also Christian mortalists, Mary is not seen as an intercessor between humankind and Jesus, whom mortalists would consider "asleep", awaiting resurrection.[158][159]

Jewish

The issue of the parentage of Jesus in the Talmud also affects Jewish views of Mary. However, the Talmud does not mention Mary by name, and is considerate rather than only polemic.[160][161] 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, the time is too late to include authentic remembrances of Jesus.[162] The Blackwell Companion to Jesus states that the Toledot Yeshu has no historical facts and was perhaps created as a tool for warding off conversions to Christianity.[163] The tales from the Toledot Yeshu did impart a negative picture of Mary to ordinary Jewish readers.[164] The circulation of the Toledot Yeshu was widespread among European and Middle Eastern Jewish communities since the 9th century.[165] 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 that includes very little historical evidence.[166] Robert Van Voorst states that because Toledot Yeshu is a medieval document with its lack of a fixed form and orientation towards a popular audience, it is "most unlikely" to have reliable historical information.[167] Stacks of the copies of the Talmud were burnt upon a court order after the 1240 Disputation for allegedly containing material defaming the character of Mary.[164]

Islamic

Persian miniature of Mary and Jesus

The Virgin Mary holds a singularly exalted place in Islam, and she is considered by the Quran to have been the greatest woman in the history of humankind. The Islamic scripture recounts the Divine Promise given to Mary as being: "Mary! God has chosen thee, and purified thee; He hath chosen thee above all the women of creation" (3:42).

Mary is often referred to by Muslims by the honorific title "Sayedetina" (Our Lady). She is mentioned in the Quran as the daughter of Imran.[168]

Moreover, Mary is the only woman named in the Quran and she is mentioned or referred to in the scripture a total of 50 times.[j] Mary holds a singularly distinguished and honored position among women in the Quran. A sura (chapter) in the Quran is titled "Maryam" (Mary), the only sura in the Quran named after a woman, in which the story of Mary (Maryam) and Jesus (Isa) is recounted according to the view of Jesus in Islam.[17]

Birth

In a narration of Hadith from Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq, he mentions that Allah revealed to Imran, "I will grant you a boy, blessed, one who will cure the blind and the leper and one who will raise the dead by My permission. And I will send him as an apostle to the Children of Israel." Then Imran related the story to his wife, Hannah, the mother of Mary. When she became pregnant, she conceived it was a boy, but when she gave birth to a girl, she stated "Oh my Lord! Verily I have delivered a female, and the male is not like the female, for a girl will not be a prophet," to which Allah replies in the Quran, "Allah knows better what has been delivered" [3:36]. When Allah bestowed Jesus to Mary, he fulfilled his promise to Imran.[169]

Motherhood

Mary shaking the palm tree for dates

Mary was declared (uniquely along with Jesus) to be a "Sign of God" to humanity;[170] as one who "guarded her chastity";[41] an "obedient one";[41] "chosen of her mother" and dedicated to Allah whilst still in the womb;[171] uniquely (amongst women) "Accepted into service by God";[172] cared for by (one of the prophets as per Islam) Zakariya (Zacharias);[172] 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.[172][168]

Mary is also called a "Chosen One";[42] a "Purified One";[42] a "Truthful one";[173] her child conceived through "a Word from God";[174] and "exalted above all women of The Worlds/Universes (the material and heavenly worlds)".[42]

The Quran relates detailed narrative accounts of Maryam (Mary) in two places, Quran 3:35–47 and 19:16–34. These state beliefs in both the Immaculate Conception of Mary and the virgin birth of Jesus.[175][176][177] 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.[178]

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.[179] According to the 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) – (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[180][181]

The Quran 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 Quran, where it is written that God sent an angel to announce that she could shortly expect to bear a son, despite being a virgin.[182]

Baháʼí Faith

The Baháʼí Faith venerates Mary as the mother of Jesus. The Kitáb-i-Íqán, the primary theological work of the Baháʼí religion, describes Mary as "that most beauteous countenance," and "that veiled and immortal Countenance." It claims that Jesus was "conceived of the Holy Ghost".[183]

Biblical scholars

The statement found in Matthew 1:25 that Joseph did not have sexual relations with Mary before she gave birth to Jesus has been debated among scholars, with some saying that she did not remain a virgin and some saying that she was a perpetual virgin.[184] Other scholars contend that the Greek word heos ("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.[185][186][187] According to Biblical scholar Bart Ehrman the Hebrew word almah, meaning young woman of childbearing age, was translated into Greek as parthenos, which often, though not always, refers to a young woman who has never had sex. In Isaiah 7:14, it is commonly believed by Christians to be the prophecy of the Virgin Mary referred to in Matthew 1:23.[188] 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.[189][190][191][192]

Other biblical verses have also been debated; for example, the reference made by Paul the Apostle 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.[193]

Pre-Christian 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.[194] In the 2nd century, as part of his anti-Christian polemic The True Word, the pagan philosopher Celsus contended that Jesus was actually the illegitimate son of a Roman soldier named Panthera.[195] The church father Origen dismissed this assertion as a complete fabrication in his apologetic treatise Against Celsus.[196] How far Celsus sourced his view from Jewish sources remains a subject of discussion.[197]

Mary, mother of Jesus Perspectives articles: 128