Mary Our Mother; The Mother of God
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The Blessed Virgin Mary is well explained here both scriptualy and by argument. The sources for these essays come from th Holy Roman Catholic Church, The Holy Orthodox Catholic Church, The Holy Russian Orthodox Catholic Church, and from the Baptist Church.

The Plan of salvation is well outlined throughout scripture and The Virgin Mary was an integral part of the plan and continues to this day in the fulfillment of the plan as co-redemtrix. To get a feel of the relationship between mother and son in their exalted state the book of Esther is a type of that special relationship.

Over the years I have listened to every possible mis guided and sometimes outright blasphemous attack against Catholics and their veneration of Mary and especially against the Rosary. This page hopefully will settle some of the questions honestly asked and settle for others that their unfounded attacks need to be repented from. 

I do hope that all who study this will come away with an enriched understanding of The Blessed Virgin and her importance to Christians in salvation history but also find a fine and loving friend in her.

Most of the material on this page is an accumulation of information from over the years And I do not claim authorship but present it in the spirit with due gratitude for the efforts of the authors.

Pax Chrsiti:

The Director:

The Uniqueness of Mary as the Mother of God

Gen. 3:15 - we see from the very beginning that God gives Mary a unique role in salvation history. God says "I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed." This refers to Jesus (the "emnity") and Mary (the "woman"). The phrase "her seed" (spermatos) is not seen elsewhere in Scripture.

Gen 3:15 / Rev. 12:1 - the Scriptures begin and end with the woman battling satan. This points to the power of the woman with the seed and teaches us that Jesus and Mary are the new Adam and the new Eve.

John 2:4, 19:26 - Jesus calls Mary "woman" as she is called in Gen. 3:15. Just as Eve was the mother of the old creation, Mary is the mother of the new creation. This woman's seed will crush the serpent's skull.

Isaiah 7:14; Matt. 1:23 - a virgin (the Greek word used is "parthenos") will bear a Son named Emmanuel, which means "God is with us." John 1:14 - God in flesh dwelt among us. Mary is the Virgin Mother of God.

Matt. 2:11 - Luke emphasizes Jesus is with Mary His Mother, and the magi fall down before both of them, worshiping Jesus.

Luke 1:35 - the child will be called holy, the Son of God. Mary is the Mother of the Son of God, or the Mother of God (the "Theotokos").

Luke 1:28 - "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you." These are the words spoken by God and delivered to us by the angel Gabriel (who is a messenger of God). Thus, when Catholics recite this verse while praying the Rosary, they are uttering the words of God.

Luke 1:28 - also, the phrase "full of grace" is translated from the Greek word "kecharitomene." This is a unique title given to Mary, and suggests a perfection of grace from a past event. Mary is not just "highly favored." She has been perfected in grace by God. "Full of grace" is only used to describe one other person - Jesus Christ in John 1:14.

Luke 1:38 - Mary's fiat is "let it be done to me according to thy word." Mary is the perfect model of faith in God, and is worthy of our veneration.

Luke 1:42 - "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus." The phrase "blessed are you among women" really means "you are most blessed of all women." A circumlocution is used because there is no superlative in the Greek language. Note also that Elizabeth praises Mary first, and then Jesus. This is hyperdulia (but not latria which is worship owed to God alone). We too can go through Mary to praise Jesus. Finally, Catholics repeat these divinely inspired words of Elizabeth in the Rosary.

Luke 1:43 - Elizabeth's use of "Mother of my Lord" (in Hebrew, Elizabeth used "Adonai" which means Lord God) is the equivalent of "Holy Mary, Mother of God" which Catholics pray in the Rosary. The formula is simple: Jesus is a divine person, and this person is God. Mary is Jesus' Mother, so Mary is the mother of God (Mary is not just the Mother of Jesus' human nature - mothers are mothers of persons, not natures).

Luke 1:44 - Mary's voice causes John the Baptist to leap for joy in Elizabeth's womb. Luke is teaching us that Mary is our powerful intercessor.

Luke 1:46 - Mary claims that her soul magnifies the Lord. This is a bold statement from a young Jewish girl from Nazareth. Her statement is a strong testimony to her uniqueness. Mary, as our Mother and intercessor, also magnifies our prayers.

Luke 1:48 - Mary prophesies that all generations shall call her blessed, as Catholics do in the "Hail Mary" prayer. What Protestant churches have existed in all generations (none), and how many of them call Mary blessed with special prayers and devotions?

Gal. 4:4 - God sent His Son, born of a woman, to redeem us. Mary is the woman with the redeemer. By calling Mary co-redemptrix, we are simply calling Mary "the woman with the redeemer." This is because "co" is from the Latin word "cum" which means "with." Therefore, "co-redemptrix" means "woman with the redeemer." Mary had a unique but subordinate role to Jesus in salvation.

Eph. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:2 - the word "saints" (in Hebrew "qaddiysh") means "holy" ones. So Mary is called Holy, the greatest Saint of all.

Luke 2:35 - Simeon prophesies that a sword would also pierce Mary's soul. Mary thus plays a very important role in our redemption. While Jesus' suffering was all that we needed for redemption, God desired Mary to participate on a subordinate level in her Son's suffering, just as he allows us to participate through our own sufferings.

Luke 2:19,51 - Mary kept in mind all these things as she pondered them in her heart. Catholics remember this by devoting themselves to Mary's Immaculate Heart and all the treasures and wisdom and knowledge contained therein.

Mary - the Immaculate Ark of the New Covenant

Exodus 25:11-21 - the ark of the Old Covenant was made of the purest gold for God's Word. Mary is the ark of the New Covenant and is the purest vessel for the Word of God made flesh.

2 Sam. 6:7 - the Ark is so holy and pure that when Uzzah touched it, the Lord slew him. This shows us that the Ark is undefiled. Mary the Ark of the New Covenant is even more immaculate and undefiled, spared by God from original sin so that she could bear His eternal Word in her womb.

1 Chron. 13:9-10 - this is another account of Uzzah and the Ark. For God to dwell within Mary the Ark, Mary had to be conceived without sin. For Protestants to argue otherwise would be to say that God would let the finger of Satan touch His Son made flesh. This is incomprehensible.

1 Chron. 15 and 16 - these verses show the awesome reverence the Jews had for the Ark - veneration, vestments, songs, harps, lyres, cymbals, trumpets.

Luke 1:39 / 2 Sam. 6:2 - Luke's conspicuous comparison's between Mary and the Ark described by Samuel underscores the reality of Mary as the undefiled and immaculate Ark of the New Covenant. In these verses, Mary (the Ark) arose and went / David arose and went to the Ark. There is a clear parallel between the Ark of the Old and the Ark of the New Covenant.

Luke 1:41 / 2 Sam. 6:16 - John the Baptist / King David leap for joy before Mary / Ark. So should we leap for joy before Mary the immaculate Ark of the Word made flesh.

Luke 1:43 / 2 Sam. 6:9 - How can the Mother / Ark of the Lord come to me? It is a holy privilege. Our Mother wants to come to us and lead us to Jesus.

Luke 1:56 / 2 Sam. 6:11 and 1 Chron. 13:14 - Mary / the Ark remained in the house for about three months.

Rev 11:19 - at this point in history, the Ark of the Old Covenant was not seen for six centuries (see 2 Macc. 2:7), and now it is finally seen in heaven. The Jewish people would have been absolutely amazed at this. However, John immediately passes over this fact and describes the "woman" clothed with the sun in Rev. 12:1. John is emphasizing that Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant and who, like the Old ark, is now worthy of veneration and praise. Also remember that Rev. 11:19 and Rev. 12:1 are tied together because there was no chapter and verse at the time these texts were written.

Rev 12:1 - the "woman" that John is describing is Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. Just as the moon reflects the light of the sun, so Mary, with the moon under her feet, reflects the glory of the Sun of Justice, Jesus Christ.

Rev. 12:17 - this verse tells us that Mary's offspring are those who keep God's commandments and bear testimony to Jesus. This demonstrates, as Catholics have always believed, that Mary is the Mother of all Christians.

Rev. 12:2 - Some Protestants argue that, because the woman had birth pangs, she was a woman with sin. However, Revelation is apocalyptic literature unique to the 1st century. It contains varied symbolism and multiple meanings of the woman (Mary, the Church and Israel). The birth pangs describe both the birth of the Church and Mary's offspring being formed in Christ. Mary had no birth pangs in delivering her only Son Jesus.

Isaiah 66:7 - for example, we see Isaiah prophesying that before she (Mary) was in labor she gave birth; before her pain came upon her she was delivered of a son (Jesus). This is a Marian prophecy of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ.

Gal 4:19 - Paul also describes his pain as birth pangs in forming the disciples in Christ. Birth pangs describe formation in Christ.

Rom. 8:22 - also, Paul says the whole creation has been groaning in travail before the coming of Christ. We are all undergoing birth pangs because we are being reborn into Jesus Christ.

Jer. 13:21 - Jeremiah describes the birth pangs of Israel, like a woman in travail. Birth pangs are usually used metaphorically in the Scriptures.

Hos. 13:12-13 - Ephraim is also described as travailing in childbirth for his sins. Again, birth pangs are used metaphorically.

Micah 4:9-10 - Micah also describes Jerusalem as being seized by birth pangs like a woman in travail.

Rev. 12:13-16 - in these verses, we see that the devil still seeks to destroy the woman even after the Savior is born. This proves Mary is a danger to satan, even after the birth of Christ. This is because God has given her the power to intercede for us, and we should invoke her assistance in our spiritual lives.

Mary is our Mother and Queen of the New Davidic Kingdom

John 19:26 - Jesus makes Mary the Mother of us all as He dies on the Cross by saying "behold your mother." Jesus did not say "John, behold your mother" because he gave Mary to all of us, his beloved disciples. All the words that Jesus spoke on Cross had a divine purpose. Jesus was not just telling John to take care of his mother.

Rev. 12:17 - this verse proves the meaning of John 19:26. The "woman's" (Mary's) offspring are those who follow Jesus. She is our Mother and we are her offspring in Jesus Christ. The master plan of God's covenant love for us is family. But we cannot be a complete family with the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Christ without the Motherhood of Mary.

John 2:3 - this is a very signifcant verse in Scripture. As our mother, Mary tells all of us to do whatever Jesus tells us. Further, Mary's intercession at the marriage feast in Cana triggers Jesus' ministry and a foreshadowing of the Eucharistic celebration of the Lamb. This celebration unites all believers into one famiy through the marriage of divinity and humanity.

John 2:7 - Jesus allows His mother to intercede for the people on His behalf, and responds to His mother's request by ordering the servants to fill the jars with water.

Psalm 45:9 - the psalmist teaches that the Queen stands at the right hand of God. The role of the Queen is important in God's kingdom. Mary the Queen of heaven is at the right hand of the Son of God.

1 Kings 2:17, 20 - in the Old Testament Davidic kingdom, the King does not refuse his mother. Jesus is the new Davidic King, and He does not refuse the requests of his mother Mary, the Queen.

1 Kings 2:18 - in the Old Testament Davidic kingdom, the Queen intercedes on behalf of the King's followers. She is the Queen Mother (or "Gebirah"). Mary is our eternal Gebirah.

1 Kings 2:19 - in the Old Testament Davidic kingdom the King bows down to his mother and she sits at his right hand. We, as children of the New Covenant, should imitate our King and pay the same homage to Mary our Mother. By honoring Mary, we honor our King, Jesus Christ.

1 Kings 15:13 - the Queen Mother is a powerful position in Israel's royal monarchy. Here the Queen is removed from office. But now, the Davidic kingdom is perfected by Jesus, and our Mother Mary is forever at His right hand.

2 Chron. 22:10 - here Queen Mother Athalia destroys the royal family of Judah after she sees her son, King Ahaziah, dead. The Queen mother plays a significant role in the kingdom.

Neh. 2:6 - the Queen Mother sits beside the King. She is the primary intercessor before the King.

Mary is Ever Virgin

Exodus 13:2,12 - Jesus is sometimes referred to as the "first-born" son of Mary. But "first-born" is a common Jewish expression meaning the first child to open the womb. It has nothing to do the mother having future children.

Exodus 34:20 - under the Mosaic law, the "first-born" son had to be sanctified. "First-born" status does not require a "second" born.

Ezek. 44:2 - Ezekiel prophesies that no man shall pass through the gate by which the Lord entered the world. This is a prophecy of Mary's perpetual virginity. Mary remained a virgin before, during and after the birth of Jesus.

Mark 6:3 - Jesus was always referred to as "the" son of Mary, not "a" son of Mary. Also "brothers" could have theoretically been Joseph's children from a former marriage that was dissolved by death. However, it is most likely, perhaps most certainly, that Joseph was a virgin, just as were Jesus and Mary. As such, they embodied the true Holy Family, fully consecrated to God.

Luke 1:31,34 - the angel tells Mary that you "will" conceive (using the future tense). Mary responds by saying, "How shall this be?" Mary's response demonstrates that she had taken a vow of lifelong virginity by having no intention to have relations with a man. If Mary did not take such a vow of lifelong virginity, her question would make no sense at all (for we can assume she knew how a child is conceived). She was a consecrated Temple virgin as was an acceptable custom of the times.

Luke 2:41-51 - in searching for Jesus and finding Him in the temple, there is never any mention of other siblings.

John 7:3-4; Mark 3:21 - we see that younger "brothers" were advising Jesus. But this would have been extremely disrespectful for devout Jews if these were Jesus' biological brothers.

John 19:26-27 - it would have been unthinkable for Jesus to commit the care of his mother to a friend if he had brothers.

John 19:25 - the following verses prove that James and Joseph are Jesus' cousins and not his brothers: Mary the wife of Clopas is the sister of the Virgin Mary.

Matt. 27:61, 28:1 - Matthew even refers to Mary the wife of Clopas as "the other Mary."

Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:47 - Mary the wife of Clopas is the mother of James and Joseph.

Mark 6:3 - James and Joseph are called the "brothers" of Jesus. So James and Joseph are Jesus' cousins.

Matt. 10:3 - James is also called the son of "Alpheus." This does not disprove that James is the son of Clopas. The name Alpheus may be Aramaic for Clopas, or James took a Greek name like Saul (Paul), or Mary remarried a man named Alpheus.

Jesus' "Brothers" (adelphoi)) = Cousins or Kinsmen
Luke 1:36 - Elizabeth is Mary's kinswoman. Some Bibles translate kinswoman as "cousin," but this is an improper translation because in Hebrew and Aramaic, there is no word for "cousin."

Luke 22:32 - Jesus tells Peter to strengthen his "brethren." In this case, we clearly see Jesus using "brethren" to refer to the other apostles, not his biological brothers.

Acts 1:12-15 - the gathering of Jesus' "brothers" amounts to about 120. That is a lot of "brothers." Brother means kinsmen in Hebrew.

Acts 7:26; 11:1; 13:15,38; 15:3,23,32; 28:17,21 - these are some of many other examples where "brethren" does not mean blood relations.

Rom. 9:3 - Paul uses "brethren" and "kinsmen" interchangeably. "Brothers" of Jesus does not prove Mary had other children.

Gen. 11:26-28 - Lot is Abraham's nephew ("anepsios") / Gen. 13:8; 14:14,16 - Lot is still called Abraham's brother (adelphos") . This proves that, although a Greek word for cousin is "anepsios," Scripture also uses "adelphos" to describe a cousin.

Gen. 29:15 - Laban calls Jacob is "brother" even though Jacob is his nephew. Again, this proves that brother means kinsmen or cousin.

Deut. 23:7; 1 Chron. 15:5-18; Jer. 34:9; Neh. 5:7 -"brethren" means kinsmen. Hebrew and Aramaic have no word for "cousin."

2 Sam. 1:26; 1 Kings 9:13, 20:32 - here we see that "brethren" can even be one who is unrelated (no bloodline), such as a friend.

2 Kings 10:13-14 - King Ahaziah's 42 "brethren" were really his kinsmen.

1 Chron. 23:21-22 - Eleazar's daughters married their "brethren" who were really their cousins.

Neh. 4:14; 5:1,5,8,10,14 - these are more examples of "brothers" meaning "cousins" or "kinsmen."

Tobit 5:11 - Tobit asks Azarias to identify himself and his people, but still calls him "brother."

Amos 1: 9 - brotherhood can also mean an ally (where there is no bloodline).

Mary's Assumption into Heaven

Gen. 5:24, Heb. 11:5 - Enoch was bodily assumed into heaven without dying. Would God do any less for Mary the Ark of the New Covenant?

2 Kings 2:11-12; 1 Mac 2:58 - Elijah was assumed into heaven in fiery chariot. Jesus would not do any less for His Blessed Mother.

Psalm 132:8 - Arise, O Lord, and go to thy resting place, thou and the Ark (Mary) of thy might. Both Jesus and Mary were taken up to their eternal resting place in heaven.

2 Cor. 12:2 - Paul speaks of a man in Christ who was caught up to the third heaven. Mary was also brought up into heaven by God.

Matt. 27:52-53 - when Jesus died and rose, the bodies of the saints were raised. Nothing in Scripture precludes Mary's assumption into heaven.

1 Thess. 4:17 - we shall be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we shall always be with the Lord.

Rev. 12:1 - we see Mary, the "woman," clothed with the sun. While in Rev. 6:9 we only see the souls of the martyrs in heaven, in Rev. 12:1 we see Mary, both body and soul.

2 Thess. 2:15 - Paul instructs us to hold fast to oral (not just written) tradition. Apostolic tradition says Mary was assumed into heaven. While claiming the bones of the saints was a common practice during these times (and would have been especially important to obtain Mary's bones as she was the Mother of God), Mary's bones were never claimed. This is because they were not available. Mary was taken up body and soul into heaven.  

Mary's Coronation in Heaven

2 Tim 4:8 - Paul says that there is laid up for him the crown of righteousness. The saints are crowned in heaven, and Mary is the greatest saint of all.

James 1:12 - those who endure will receive the crown of life which God has promised. Mary has received the crown of life by bringing eternal life to the world.

1 Peter 5:4 - when the chief Shepherd is manifested we will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Rev. 2:10 - Jesus will give the faithful unto death the crown of life. Jesus gave Mary His Mother the crown of life.

Rev. 12:1 - Mary, the "woman," is crowned with twelve stars. She is Queen of heaven and earth and the Mother of the Church.

Wis. 5:16 - we will receive a glorious crown and a beautiful diadem from the hand of the Lord. Mary is with Jesus forever crowned in His glory.  

Misunderstanding about Matthew 1:25 (Joseph knew her "not until")

Matt. 1:25 - this verse says Joseph knew her "not until ("heos", in Greek)" she bore a son. Some Protestants argue that this proves Joseph had relations with Mary after she bore a son. This is an erroneous reading of the text because "not until" does not mean "did not...until after." "Heos" references the past, never the future. Instead, "not until" she bore a son means "not up to the point that" she bore a son. This confirms that Mary was a virgin when she bore Jesus. Here are other texts that prove "not until" means "not up to the point that":

Matt. 28:29 - I am with you "until the end of the world." This does not mean Jesus is not with us after the end of the world. He is present with us now in the Eucharist.

Luke 1:80 - John was in the desert "up to the point of his manifestation to Israel." Not John "was in the desert until after" his manifestation.

Luke 2:37 - Anna was a widow "up to the point that" she was eighty-four years old. She was not a widow after eighty-four years old.

Luke 20:43 - Jesus says, "take your seat at my hand until I have made your enemies your footstool." Jesus is not going to require the apostles to sit at His left hand after their enemies are their footstool.

1 Tim. 4:13 - "up to the point that I come," attend to teaching and preaching. It does not mean do nothing "until after" I come.

Gen. 8:7 - the raven flew back and forth "up to the point that" [until] the waters dried from the earth. The raven did not start flying after the waters dried.

Gen. 28:15 - the Lord won't leave Jacob "up to the point that" he does His promise. This does not mean the Lord will leave Jacob afterward.

Deut. 34:6 - but "up to the point of today" no one knows Moses' burial place. This does not mean that "they did not know place until today."

2 Sam. 6:23 - Saul's daughter Micah was childless "up to the point" [until] her death. She was not with child after her death.

1 Macc. 5:54 - not one was slain "up to the point that" they returned in peace. They were not slain after they returned in peace.  

Misunderstanding about Romans 3:23 ("All have sinned")

Rom. 3:23 - Some Protestants use this verse "all have sinned" in an attempt to prove that Mary was also with sin. But "all have sinned " only means that all are subject to original sin. Mary was spared from original sin by God, not herself. The popular analogy is God let us fall in the mud puddle, and cleaned us up afterward through baptism. In Mary's case, God did not let her enter the mud puddle.

Rom. 3:23 - "all have sinned" also refers only to those able to commit sin. This is not everyone. For example, infants, the retarded, and the senile cannot sin.

Rom. 3:23 - finally, "all have sinned," but Jesus must be an exception to this rule. This means that Mary can be an exception as well. Note that the Greek word for all is "pantes."

1 Cor. 15:22 - in Adam all ("pantes") have died, and in Christ all ("pantes") shall live. This proves that "all" does not mean "every single one." This is because not all have died (such as Enoch and Elijah who were taken up to heaven), and not all will go to heaven (because Jesus said so).

Rom. 5:12 - Paul says that death spread to all ("pantes") men. Again, this proves that "all" does not mean "every single one" because death did not spread to all men (as we have seen with Enoch and Elijah).

Rom. 5:19 - here Paul says "many (not all) were made sinners." Paul uses "polloi," not "pantes." Is Paul contradicting what he said in Rom. 3:23? Of course not. Paul means that all are subject to original sin, but not all reject God.

Rom. 3:10-11 - Protestants also use this verse to prove that all human beings are sinful and thus Mary must be sinful. But see Psalm 14 which is the basis of the verse.

Psalm 14 - this psalm does not teach that all humans are sinful. It only teaches that, among the wicked, all are sinful. The righteous continue to seek God.

Psalm 53:1-3 - "there is none that does good" expressly refers to those who have fallen away. Those who remain faithful do good, and Jesus calls such faithful people "good."

Luke 18:19 - Jesus says, "No one is good but God alone." But then in Matt. 12:35, Jesus also says "The good man out of his good treasure..." So Jesus says no one is good but God, and then calls another person good.

Rom. 9:11 - God distinguished between Jacob and Esau in the womb, before they sinned. Mary was also distinguished from the rest of humanity in the womb by being spared by God from original sin.

Luke 1:47 - Mary calls God her Savior. Some Protestants use this to denigrate Mary. Why? Of course God is Mary's Savior! She was freed from original sin in the womb (unlike us who are freed from sin outside of the womb), but needed a Savior as much as the rest of humanity.

Luke 1:48 - Mary calls herself lowly. But any creature is lowly compared to God. For example, in Matt. 11:29, even Jesus says He is lowly in heart. Lowliness is a sign of humility, which is the greatest virtue of holiness, because it allows us to empty ourselves and receive the grace of God to change our sinful lives. 

Misunderstandings about Jesus "rebuking" Mary

Matt. 12:48; Mark 3:33; Luke 8:21 - when Jesus asks, "Who are my mother, and sisters and brothers?," some Protestants argue that Jesus is rebuking Mary in order to denigrate her. To the contrary, when Jesus' comments are read in light of Luke 8:5-15 and the parable of the sower which Jesus taught right before His question, Jesus is actually implying that Mary has already received the word as the sower of good ground and is bearing fruit. Jesus is teaching that others must, like Mary, also receive the word and obey it.

Matt. 12:48; Mark 3:33; Luke 8:21 - Jesus' question about "who are my mother, and sisters and brothers" was also made in reference to Psalm 69:8-9. Jesus the Prophet was answering the psalmist's prophecy that those closest to Him would betray Him at His passion. Jesus is emphasizing the spiritual family's importance over the biological family, and the importance of being faithful to Him. While many were unfaithful to Jesus, Mary remained faithful to Him, even to the point of standing at the foot of the Cross.

Matt. 12:48; Mark 3:33; Luke 8:21 - finally, to argue that Jesus rebuked Mary is to argue that Jesus violated the Torah, here, the 4th commandment. This argument is blasphemous because it essentially says that God committed sin by dishonoring His Mother.

Luke 11:28 - when Jesus says, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it," some Protestants also call this a rebuke of Mary. Again, to the contrary, Jesus is exalting Mary by emphasizing her obedience to God's word as being more critical than her biological role of mother. This affirms Luke 1:48.

Luke 11:28 - also, the Greek word for "rather" is "menounge." Menounge really means "Yes, but in addition," or "Further." Thus, Jesus is saying, yes my mother is blessed indeed, but further blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it. Jesus is encouraging others to follow Mary's example in order to build up His kingdom.

Luke 11:27-28 - finally, Jesus is the one being complimented, not Mary. Therefore, Jesus is refocusing the attention from Him to others who obey the word of God. If He is refocusing the attention away from Him to others, His comment cannot be a rebuke of Mary His mother.

John 2:4 - this is another example that Protestants use to diminish Mary's significance. Jesus' question to Mary, "what have you to do with me?" does no such thing. To the contrary, Jesus' question illustrates the importance of Mary's role in the kingdom. Jesus' question is in reality an invitation to His mother to intercede on behalf of all believers and begin His ministry, and His Mother understands this. Mary thus immediately intercedes, Jesus obeys her, and performs the miracle which commenced His ministry of redemption.

Luke 8:28 - the demons tell Jesus the same thing, "what have you to do with us." The demons are not rebuking Jesus, for God would not allow it. Instead, the demons are acknowledging the power of Jesus by their question to Him.

John 2:4; 19:26 - when Jesus uses the title "woman" (gnyai), it is a title of dignity and respect. It is the equivalent of Lady or Madam. Jesus honored His Mother as God requires us to do.

Tradition / Church Fathers
Mary is the Mother of God

"After this, we receive the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead, of which Jesus Christ our Lord became the first-fruits; Who bore a Body, in truth, not in semblance, derived from Mary the mother of God in the fullness of time sojourning among the race, for the remission of sins: who was crucified and died, yet for all this suffered no diminution of His Godhead." Alexander of Alexandria, Epistle to Alexander, 12 (A.D. 324).

"Many, my beloved, are the true testimonies concerning Christ. The Father bears witness from heaven of His Son: the Holy Ghost bears witness, descending bodily in likeness of a dove: the Archangel Gabriel bears witness, bringing good tidings to Mary: the Virgin Mother of God bears witness: the blessed place of the manger bears witness." Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, X:19 (c. A.D. 350).

"And the Angel on his appearance, himself confesses that he has been sent by his Lord; as Gabriel confessed in the case of Zacharias, and also in the case of Mary, bearer of God." Athanasius, Orations III, 14(A.D. 362).

"Just as, in the age of Mary the mother of God, he who had reigned from Adam to her time found, when he came to her and dashed his forces against the fruit of her virginity as against a rock, that he was shattered to pieces upon her, so in every soul which passes through this life in the flesh under the protection of virginity, the strength of death is in a manner broken and annulled, for he does not find the places upon which he may fix his sting." Gregory of Nyssa, On Virginity, 14 (A.D. 370).

"He reshaped man to perfection in Himself, from Mary the Mother of God through the Holy Spirit." Epiphanius, The man well-anchored, 75 (A.D. 374).

"Let, then, the life of Mary be as it were virginity itself, set forth in a likeness, from which, as from a mirror, the appearance of chastity and the form of virtue is reflected. From this you may take your pattern of life, showing, as an example, the clear rules of virtue: what you have to correct, to effect, and to hold fast. The first thing which kindles ardour in learning is the greatness of the teacher. What is greater than the Mother of God?" Ambrose, Virginity, II:6 (c. A.D. 378).

"If anyone does not believe that Holy Mary is the Mother of God, he is severed from the Godhead." Gregory of Nazianzus, To Cledonius, 101 (A.D. 382).

"To the question: 'Is Mary the bearer of Man, or the bearer of God?' we must answer: 'Of Both.'" Theodore of Mopsuestia, The Incarnation, 15 (ante A.D. 428).

"And so you say, O heretic, whoever you may be, who deny that God was born of the Virgin, that Mary the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ ought not to be called Theotocos, i.e., Mother of God, but Christotocos, i.e., only the Mother of Christ, not of God. For no one, you say, brings forth what is anterior in time. And of this utterly foolish argument whereby you think that the birth of God can be understood by carnal minds, and fancy that the mystery of His Majesty can be accounted for by human reasoning, we will, if God permits, say something later on. In the meanwhile we will now prove by Divine testimonies that Christ is God, and that Mary is the Mother of God." John Cassian, The Incarnation of Christ, II:2 (A.D. 430).

"But since the Holy Virgin brought forth after the flesh God personally united to the flesh, for this reason we say of her that she is Theotokos, not as though the nature of the Word had its beginning of being from the flesh, for he was in the beginning, and the Word was God, and the Word was with God...but, as we said before, because having personally united man's nature to himself..." Cyril of Alexandria, To Nestorius, Epistle 17:11 (A.D. 430).

"If anyone will not confess that the Emmanuel is very God, and that therefore the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God (Theotokos), inasmuch as in the flesh she bore the Word of God made flesh [as it is written, 'The Word was made flesh': let him be anathema." Council of Ephesus, Anathemas Against Nestorius, I (A.D. 430).

"For by the singular gift of Him who is our Lord and God, and withal, her own son, she is to be confessed most truly and most blessedly--The mother of God 'Theotocos,' but not in the sense in which it is imagined by a certain impious heresy which maintains, that she is to be called the Mother of God for no other reason than because she gave birth to that man who afterwards became God, just as we speak of a woman as the mother of a priest, or the mother of a bishop, meaning that she was such, not by giving birth to one already a priest or a bishop, but by giving birth to one who afterwards became a priest or a bishop. Not thus, I say, was the holy Mary 'Theotocos,' the mother of God, but rather, as was said before, because in her sacred womb was wrought that most sacred mystery whereby, on account of the singular and unique unity of Person, as the Word in flesh is flesh, so Man in God is God." Vincent of Lerins, Commonitory for the Antiquity and Universality of the Catholic Faith, 15 (A.D. 434).

"So then He was both in all things and above all things and also dwelt in the womb of the holy Mother of God, but in it by the energy of the incarnation." John Damascene, Source of Knowledge, III:7 (A.D. 743).


Mary�s Immaculate Conception

"He was the ark formed of incorruptible wood. For by this is signified that His tabernacle was exempt from putridity and corruption." Hippolytus, Orations Inillud, Dominus pascit me (ante A.D. 235).

"This Virgin Mother of the Only-begotten of God, is called Mary, worthy of God, immaculate of the immaculate, one of the one." Origen, Homily 1(A.D. 244).

"Let woman praise Her, the pure Mary." Ephraim, Hymns on the Nativity, 15:23 (A.D. 370).

"Thou alone and thy Mother are in all things fair, there is no flaw in thee and no stain in thy Mother." Ephraem, Nisibene Hymns, 27:8 (A.D. 370).

"O noble Virgin, truly you are greater than any other greatness. For who is your equal in greatness, O dwelling place of God the Word? To whom among all creatures shall I compare you, O Virgin? You are greater than them all O Covenant, clothed with purity instead of gold! You are the Ark in which is found the golden vessel containing the true manna, that is, the flesh in which divinity resides." Athanasius, Homily of the Papyrus of Turin, 71:216 (ante AD 373).

"Mary, a Virgin not only undefiled but a Virgin whom grace has made inviolate, free of every stain of sin." Ambrose, Sermon 22:30 (A.D. 388).

"We must except the Holy Virgin Mary, concerning whom I wish to raise no question when it touches the subject of sins, out of honour to the Lord; for from Him we know what abundance of grace for overcoming sin in every particular was conferred upon her who had the merit to conceive and bear Him who undoubtedly had no sin." Augustine, Nature and Grace,4 2[36] (A.D.415).

"As he formed her without my stain of her own, so He proceeded from her contracting no stain." Proclus of Constantinople, Homily 1 (ante A.D. 446).

"A virgin, innocent, spotless, free of all defect, untouched, unsullied, holy in soul and body, like a lily sprouting among thorns." Theodotus of Ancrya, Homily VI:11(ante A.D. 446).

"The angel took not the Virgin from Joseph, but gave her to Christ, to whom she was pledged from Joseph, but gave her to Christ, to whom she was pledged in the womb, when she was made." Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 140 (A.D. 449).

"[T]he very fact that God has elected her proves that none was ever holier than Mary, if any stain had disfigured her soul, if any other virgin had been purer and holier, God would have selected her and rejected Mary." Jacob of Sarug (ante A.D. 521).

"She is born like the cherubim, she who is of a pure, immaculate clay." Theotokos of Livias, Panegyric for the feast of the Assumption, 5:6 (ante A.D. 650).

"Today humanity, in all the radiance of her immaculate nobility, receives its ancient beauty. The shame of sin had darkened the splendour and attraction of human nature; but when the Mother of the Fair One par excellence is born, this nature regains in her person its ancient privileges and is fashioned according to a perfect model truly worthy of God.... The reform of our nature begins today and the aged world, subjected to a wholly divine transformation, receives the first fruits of the second creation." Andrew of Crete, Sermon I, On the Birth of Mary (A.D. 733).

"[T]ruly elect, and superior to all, not by the altitude of lofty structures, but as excelling all in the greatness and purity of sublime and divine virtues, and having no affinity with sin whatever." Germanus of Constantinople, Marracci in S. Germani Mariali (ante A.D. 733).

"O most blessed loins of Joachim from which came forth a spotless seed! O glorious womb of Anne in which a most holy offspring grew." John of Damascus, Homily I (ante A.D. 749).

Mary is Ever-virgin

�And indeed it was a virgin, about to marry once for all after her delivery, who gave birth to Christ, in order that each title of sanctity might be fulfilled in Christ's parentage, by means of a mother who was both virgin, and wife of one husband. Again, when He is presented as an infant in the temple, who is it who receives Him into his hands? Who is the first to recognize Him in spirit? A man just and circumspect,' and of course no digamist, (which is plain) even (from this consideration), lest (otherwise) Christ should presently be more worthily preached by a woman, an aged widow, and the wife of one man;' who, living devoted to the temple, was (already) giving in her own person a sufficient token what sort of persons ought to be the adherents to the spiritual temple,--that is, the Church. Such eye-witnesses the Lord in infancy found; no different ones had He in adult age." Tertullian, On Monogamy, 8 (A.D. 213).

"For if Mary, as those declare who with sound mind extol her, had no other son but Jesus, and yet Jesus says to His mother, Woman, behold thy son,' and not Behold you have this son also,' then He virtually said to her, Lo, this is Jesus, whom thou didst bear.' Is it not the case that every one who is perfect lives himself no longer, but Christ lives in him; and if Christ lives in him, then it is said of him to Mary, Behold thy son Christ.' What a mind, then, must we have to enable us to interpret in a worthy manner this work, though it be committed to the earthly treasure-house of common speech, of writing which any passer-by can read, and which can be heard when read aloud by any one who lends to it his bodily ears?" Origen, Commentary on John, I:6 (A.D. 232).

"Therefore let those who deny that the Son is from the Father by nature and proper to His Essence, deny also that He took true human flesh of Mary Ever-Virgin; for in neither case had it been of profit to us men, whether the Word were not true and naturally Son of God, or the flesh not true which He assumed." Athanasius, Orations against the Arians, II:70 (A.D. 362).

"And when he had taken her, he knew her not, till she had brought forth her first-born Son.' He hath here used the word till,' not that thou shouldest suspect that afterwards he did know her, but to inform thee that before the birth the Virgin was wholly untouched by man. But why then, it may be said, hath he used the word, till'? Because it is usual in Scripture often to do this, and to use this expression without reference to limited times. For so with respect to the ark likewise, it is said, The raven returned not till the earth was dried up.' And yet it did not return even after that time. And when discoursing also of God, the Scripture saith, From age until age Thou art,' not as fixing limits in this case. And again when it is preaching the Gospel beforehand, and saying, In his days shall righteousness flourish, and abundance of peace, till the moon be taken away,' it doth not set a limit to this fair part of creation. So then here likewise, it uses the word "till," to make certain what was before the birth, but as to what follows, it leaves thee to make the inference.� John Chrysostom, Gospel of Matthew, V:5 (A.D. 370).

�Thus, what it was necessary for thee to learn of Him, this He Himself hath said; that the Virgin was untouched by man until the birth; but that which both was seen to be a consequence of the former statement, and was acknowledged, this in its turn he leaves for thee to perceive; namely, that not even after this, she having so become a mother, and having been counted worthy of a new sort of travail, and a child-bearing so strange, could that righteous man ever have endured to know her. For if he had known her, and had kept her in the place of a wife, how is it that our Lord commits her, as unprotected, and having no one, to His disciple, and commands him to take her to his own home? How then, one may say, are James and the others called His brethren? In the same kind of way as Joseph himself was supposed to be husband of Mary. For many were the veils provided, that the birth, being such as it was, might be for a time screened. Wherefore even John so called them, saying, For neither did His brethren believe in Him.' John Chrysostom, Gospel of Matthew, V:5 (A.D. 370).

"But those who by virginity have desisted from this process have drawn within themselves the boundary line of death, and by their own deed have checked his advance; they have made themselves, in fact, a frontier between life and death, and a barrier too, which thwarts him. If, then, death cannot pass beyond virginity, but finds his power checked and shattered there, it is demonstrated that virginity is a stronger thing than death; and that body is rightly named undying which does not lend its service to a dying world, nor brook to become the instrument of a succession of dying creatures. In such a body the long unbroken career of decay and death, which has intervened between the first man and the lives of virginity which have been led, is interrupted. It could not be indeed that death should cease working as long as the human race by marriage was working too; he walked the path of life with all preceding generations; he started with every new-born child and accompanied it to the end: but he found in virginity a barrier, to pass which was an impossible feat." Gregory of Nyssa, On Virginity, 13 (A.D. 371).

"[T]he Son of God...was born perfectly of the holy ever-virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit..." Epiphanius, Well Anchored Man, 120 (A.D. 374).

"The friends of Christ do not tolerate hearing that the Mother of God ever ceased to be a virgin" Basil, Homily In Sanctum Christi generationem, 5 (ante A.D. 379).

"But as we do not deny what is written, so we do reject what is not written. We believe that God was born of the Virgin, because we read it. That Mary was married after she brought forth, we do not believe, because we do not read it. Nor do we say this to condemn marriage, for virginity itself is the fruit of marriage; but because when we are dealing with saints we must not judge rashly. If we adopt possibility as the standard of judgment, we might maintain that Joseph had several wives because Abraham had, and so had Jacob, and that the Lord's brethren were the issue of those wives, an invention which some hold with a rashness which springs from audacity not from piety. You say that Mary did not continue a virgin: I claim still more, that Joseph himself on account of Mary was a virgin, so that from a virgin wedlock a virgin son was born. For if as a holy man he does not come under the imputation of fornication, and it is nowhere written that he had another wife, but was the guardian of Mary whom he was supposed to have to wife rather than her husband, the conclusion is that he who was thought worthy to be called father of the Lord, remained a virgin." Jerome, The Perpetual Virginity of Mary Against Helvedius, 21 (A.D. 383).

"Imitate her, holy mothers, who in her only dearly beloved Son set forth so great an example of maternal virtue; for neither have you sweeter children, nor did the Virgin seek the consolation of being able to bear another son." Ambrose, To the Christian at Vercellae, Letter 63:111 (A.D. 396).

"Her virginity also itself was on this account more pleasing and accepted, in that it was not that Christ being conceived in her, rescued it beforehand from a husband who would violate it, Himself to preserve it; but, before He was conceived, chose it, already dedicated to God, as that from which to be born. This is shown by the words which Mary spake in answer to the Angel announcing to her conception; How,' saith she, shall this be, seeing I know not a man?' Which assuredly she would not say, unless she had before vowed herself unto God as a virgin. But, because the habits of the Israelites as yet refused this, she was espoused to a just man, who would not take from her by violence, but rather guard against violent persons, what she had already vowed. Although, even if she had said this only, How shall this take place ?' and had not added, seeing I know not a man,' certainly she would not have asked, how, being a female, she should give birth to her promised Son, if she had married with purpose of sexual intercourse. She might have been bidden also to continue a virgin, that in her by fitting miracle the Son of God should receive the form of a servant, but, being to be a pattern to holy virgins, lest it should be thought that she alone needed to be a virgin, who had obtained to conceive a child even without sexual intercourse, she dedicated her virginity to God, when as yet she knew not what she should conceive, in order that the imitation of a heavenly life in an earthly and mortal body should take place of vow, not of command; through love of choosing, not through necessity of doing service. Thus Christ by being born of a virgin, who, before she knew Who was to be born of her, had determined to continue a virgin, chose rather to approve, than to command, holy virginity. And thus, even in the female herself, in whom He took the form of a servant, He willed that virginity should be free." Augustine, Of Holy Virginity, 4 (A.D. 401).

"Where are they who think that the Virgin's conception and giving birth to her child are to be likened to those of other woman? For, this latter case is one of the earth, and the Virgin's is one from heaven. The one case is a case of divine power; the other of human weakness. The one case occurs in a body subject to passion; the other in the tranquility of the divine Spirit and peace of the human body. The blood was still, and the flesh astonished; her members were put at rest, and her entire womb was quiescent during the visit of the Holy One, until the Author of flesh could take on His garment of flesh, and until He, who was not merely to restore the earth to man but also to give him heaven, could become a heavenly Man. The virgin conceives, the Virgin brings forth her child, and she remains a virgin." Peter Chrysoslogus, Sermon 117, (A.D. 432).

"And by a new nativity He was begotten, conceived by a Virgin, born of a Virgin, without paternal desire, without injury to the mother's chastity: because such a birth as knew no taint of human flesh, became One who was to be the Saviour of men, while it possessed in itself the nature of human substance. For when God was born in the flesh, God Himself was the Father, as the archangel witnessed to the Blessed Virgin Mary: because the Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee: and therefore, that which shall be born of thee shall be called holy, the Son of God.' The origin is different but the nature like: not by intercourse with man but by the power of God was it brought about: for a Virgin conceived, a Virgin bare, and a Virgin she remained." Pope Leo the Great (regn. A.D. 440-461), On the Feast of the Nativity, Sermon 22:2 (ante A.D. 461).

"The ever-virgin One thus remains even after the birth still virgin, having never at any time up till death consorted with a man. For although it is written, And knew her not till she had brought forth her first-born Son, yet note that he who is first-begotten is first-born even if he is only-begotten. For the word first-born' means that he was born first but does not at all suggest the birth of others. And the word till' signifies the limit of the appointed time but does not exclude the time thereafter. For the Lord says, And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world, not meaning thereby that He will be separated from us after the completion of the age. The divine apostle, indeed, says, And so shall we ever be with the Lord, meaning after the general resurrection." John of Damascus, Orthodox Faith, 4:14 (A.D. 743).

Mary�s Assumption into Heaven

�If the Holy Virgin had died and was buried, her falling asleep would have been surrounded with honour, death would have found her pure, and her crown would have been a virginal one...Had she been martyred according to what is written: 'Thine own soul a sword shall pierce', then she would shine gloriously among the martyrs, and her holy body would have been declared blessed; for by her, did light come to the world."
Epiphanius, Panarion, 78:23 (A.D. 377).

"[T]he Apostles took up her body on a bier and placed it in a tomb; and they guarded it, expecting the Lord to come. And behold, again the Lord stood by them; and the holy body having been received, He commanded that it be taken in a cloud into paradise: where now, rejoined to the soul, [Mary] rejoices with the Lord's chosen ones..." Gregory of Tours, Eight Books of Miracles, 1:4 (inter A.D. 575-593).

"As the most glorious Mother of Christ, our Savior and God and the giver of life and immortality, has been endowed with life by him, she has received an eternal incorruptibility of the body together with him who has raised her up from the tomb and has taken her up to himself in a way known only to him." Modestus of Jerusalem, Encomium in dormitionnem Sanctissimae Dominae nostrae Deiparae semperque Virginis Mariae (PG 86-II,3306),(ante A.D. 634).

"It was fitting ...that the most holy-body of Mary, God-bearing body, receptacle of God, divinised, incorruptible, illuminated by divine grace and full glory ...should be entrusted to the earth for a little while and raised up to heaven in glory, with her soul pleasing to God." Theoteknos of Livias, Homily on the Assumption (ante A.D. 650).

"You are she who, as it is written, appears in beauty, and your virginal body is all holy, all chaste, entirely the dwelling place of God, so that it is henceforth completely exempt from dissolution into dust. Though still human, it is changed into the heavenly life of incorruptibility, truly living and glorious, undamaged and sharing in perfect life." Germanus of Constantinople, Sermon I (PG 98,346), (ante A.D. 733).

"St. Juvenal, Bishop of Jerusalem, at the Council of Chalcedon (451), made known to the Emperor Marcian and Pulcheria, who wished to possess the body of the Mother of God, that Mary died in the presence of all the Apostles, but that her tomb, when opened upon the request of St. Thomas, was found empty; wherefrom the Apostles concluded that the body was taken up to heaven." John of Damascene, PG (96:1) (A.D. 747-751).

"It was fitting that the she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles. It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped when giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father, It was fitting that God's Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God." John of Damascene, Dormition of Mary (PG 96,741), (ante A.D. 749).

"Venerable to us, O Lord, is the festivity of this day on which the holy Mother of God suffered temporal death, but still could not be kept down by the bonds of death, who has begotten Thy Son our Lord incarnate from herself." Gregorian Sacramentary, Veneranda (ante A.D. 795).

"[A]n effable mystery all the more worthy of praise as the Virgin's Assumption is something unique among men." Gallican Sacramentary, from Munificentis simus Deus (8th Century).

"God, the King of the universe, has granted you favors that surpass nature. As he kept you virgin in childbirth, thus he kept your body incorrupt in the tomb and has glorified it by his divine act of transferring it from the tomb." Byzantine Liturgy, from Munificentis simus Deus (8th Century).

"[T]he virgin is up to now immortal, as He who lived, translated her into the place of reception." Timotheus of Jerusalem (8th Century).


Mary is the New Eve and Most Blessed Among Women

�There is one Physician who is possessed both of flesh and spirit; both made and not made; God existing in flesh; true life in death; both of Mary and of God; first possible and then impossible, even Jesus Christ our Lord." Ignatius, To the Ephesians, 7 (c. A.D. 110).

"[T]hey blessed her, saying: O God of our fathers, bless this child, and give her an everlasting name to be named in all generations. And all the people said: So be it, so be it, amen. And he brought her to the chief priests; and they blessed her, saying: O God most high, look upon this child, and bless her with the utmost blessing, which shall be for ever." Protoevangelium of John, 6:2 (A.D. 150).

"He became man by the Virgin, in order that the disobedience which proceeded from the serpent might receive its destruction in the same manner in which it derived its origin. For Eve, who was a virgin and undefiled, having conceived the word of the serpent, brought forth disobedience and death. But the Virgin Mary received faith and joy, when the angel Gabriel announced the good tidings to her that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon her, and the power of the Highest would overshadow her: wherefore also the Holy Thing begotten of her is the Son of God; and she replied, 'Be it unto me according to thy word.' And by her has He been born, to whom we have proved so many Scriptures refer, and by whom God destroys both the serpent and those angels and men who are like him; but works deliverance from death to those who repent of their wickedness and believe upon Him." Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 100 (A.D. 155).

"[H]e was born of Mary the fair ewe." Melito de Sardo, Easter Homily (c. A.D. 177).

"In accordance with this design, Mary the Virgin is found obedient, saying, 'Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.' But Eve was disobedient; for she did not obey when as yet she was a virgin. And even as she, having indeed a husband, Adam, but being nevertheless as yet a virgin (for in Paradise 'they were both naked, and were not ashamed,' inasmuch as they, having been created a short time previously, had no understanding of the procreation of children: for it was necessary that they should first come to adult age, and then multiply from that time onward), having become disobedient, was made the cause of death, both to herself and to the entire human race; so also did Mary, having a man betrothed [to her], and being nevertheless a virgin, by yielding obedience, become the cause of salvation, both to herself and the whole human race. And on this account does the law term a woman betrothed to a man, the wife of him who had betrothed her, although she was as yet a virgin; thus indicating the back-reference from Mary to Eve, because what is joined together could not otherwise be put asunder than by inversion of the process by which these bonds of union had arisen; s so that the former ties be cancelled by the latter, that the latter may set the former again at liberty� Wherefore also Luke, commencing the genealogy with the Lord, carried it back to Adam, indicating that it was He who regenerated them into the Gospel of life, and not they Him. And thus also it was that the knot of Eve's disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the virgin Mary set free through faith." Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3:22 (A.D. 180).

"For whereas the Word of God was without flesh, He took upon Himself the holy flesh by the holy Virgin, and prepared a robe which He wove for Himself, like a bridegroom, in the sufferings of the cross, in order that by uniting His own power with our moral body, and by mixing the incorruptible with the corruptible, and the strong with the weak, He might save perishing man." Hippolytus, Treatise on Christ and antiChrist, 4 (A.D. 200).

"But the Lord Christ, the fruit of the Virgin, did not pronounce the breasts of women blessed, nor selected them to give nourishment; but when the kind and loving Father had rained down the Word, Himself became spiritual nourishment to the good. O mystic marvel! The universal Father is one, and one the universal Word; and the Holy Spirit is one and the same everywhere, and one is the only virgin mother. I love to call her the Church. This mother, when alone, had not milk, because alone she was not a woman. But she is once virgin and mother--pure as a virgin, loving as a mother. And calling her children to her, she nurses them with holy milk, viz., with the Word for childhood. Therefore she had not milk; for the milk was this child fair and comely, the body of Christ, which nourishes by the Word the young brood, which the Lord Himself brought forth in throes of the flesh, which the Lord Himself swathed in His precious blood." Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, I:6 (A.D.202).

"Accordingly, a virgin did conceive and bear 'Emmanuel, God with us.' This is the new nativity; a man is born in God. And in this man God was born, taking the flesh of an ancient race, without the help, however, of the ancient seed, in order that He might reform it with a new seed, that is, in a spiritual manner, and cleanse it by the re-moral of all its ancient stains. But the whole of this new birth was prefigured, as was the case in all other instances, in ancient type, the Lord being born as man by a dispensation in which a virgin was the medium. The earth was still in a virgin state, reduced as yet by no human labour, with no seed as yet cast into its furrows, when, as we are told, God made man out of it into a living soul�For it was while Eve was yet a virgin, that the ensnaring word had crept into her ear which was to build the edifice of death. Into a virgin's soul, in like manner, must be introduced that Word of God which was to raise the fabric of life; so that what had been reduced to ruin by this sex, might by the selfsame sex be recovered to salvation. As Eve had believed the serpent, so Mary believed the angel. The delinquency which the one occasioned by believing, the other by believing effaced. But (it will be said) Eve did not at the devil's word conceive in her womb. Well, she at all events conceived; for the devil's word afterwards became as seed to her that she should conceive as an outcast, and bring forth in sorrow. Indeed she gave birth to a fratricidal devil; whilst Mary, on the contrary, bare one who was one day to secure salvation to Israel, His own brother after the flesh, and the murderer of Himself. God therefore sent down into the virgin's womb His Word, as the good Brother, who should blot out the memory of the evil brother. Hence it was necessary that Christ should come forth for the salvation of man, in that condition of flesh into which man had entered ever since his condemnation." Tertullian, Flesh of Christ, 17 (A.D. 212).

"And I think it in harmony with reason that Jesus was the first-fruit among men of the purity which consists in chastity, and Mary among women; for it were not pious to ascribe to any other than to her the first-fruit of virginity." Origen, Commentary on Matthew, 10:17 (A.D. 244).

"Many, my beloved, are the true testimonies concerning Christ. The Father bears witness from heaven of His Son: the Holy Ghost bears witness, descending bodily in likeness of a dove: the Archangel Gabriel bears witness, bringing good tidings to Mary: the Virgin Mother of God [Theotokos] bears witness: the blessed place of the manger bears witness" Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 10:19 (A.D. 350).

"In what remains we have the appointment of the Father's will. The Virgin, the birth, the Body, then the Cross, the death, the visit to the lower world; these things are our salvation. For the sake of mankind the Son of God was born of tile Virgin and of the Holy Ghost. In this process He ministered to Himself; by His own power--the power of God--which overshadowed her He sowed the beginning of His Body, and entered on the first stage of His life in the flesh. He did it that by His Incarnation He might take to Himself from the Virgin the fleshly nature, and that through this commingling there might come into being a hallowed Body of all humanity; that so through that Body which He was pleased to assume all mankind might be hid in Him, and He in return, through His unseen existence, be reproduced in all. Thus the invisible Image of God scorned not the shame which marks the beginnings of human life. He passed through every stage; through conception, birth, wailing, cradle and each successive humiliation. What worthy return can we make for so great a condescension? The One Only-begotten God, ineffably born of God, entered the Virgin's womb and grew and took the frame of poor humanity. He Who upholds the universe, within Whom and through Whom are all things, was brought forth by common childbirth; He at Whose voice Archangels and Angels tremble, and heaven and earth and all the elements of this world are melted, was heard in childish wailing. The Invisible and Incomprehensible, Whom sight and feeling and touch cannot gauge, was wrapped in a cradle.� Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 2:24-25 (A.D. 355).

"And as the grace of the Triad is one, so also the Triad is indivisible. We can see this in regard to Saint Mary herself. The archangel Gabriel when sent to announce the coming of the Word upon her said, 'The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee', knowing that the Spirit was in the Word. Wherefore he added: 'and the Power of the Highest shall overshadow thee.'" Athanasius, To Serapion of Thmuis, III:6 (A.D. 360).

"And when he had taken her, 'he knew her not, till she had brought forth her first-born Son.' He hath here used the word 'till,' not that thou shouldest suspect that afterwards he did know her, but to inform thee that before the birth the Virgin was wholly untouched by man." John Chrysostom, Homily on Matthew, 5:5 (A.D. 370).

"It was, to divulge by the manner of His Incarnation this great secret; that purity is the only complete indication of the presence of God and of His coming, and that no one can in reality secure this for himself, unless he has altogether estranged himself from the passions of the flesh. What happened in the stainless Mary when the fullness of the Godhead which was in Christ shone out through her, that happens in every soul that leads by rule the virgin life." Gregory of Nyssa, On Virginity, 2 (A.D. 371).

"Thou alone and thy Mother are in all things fair; for there is no flaw in thee and no stain in thy Mother. Of these two fair ones, to whom are my children similar?" Ephraem, Nisbene Hymns, 27:8 (ante A.D. 373).

"Whoever honors the Lord also honors the holy [vessel]; who instead dishonors the holy vessel also dishonors his Master. Mary herself is that holy Virgin, that is, the holy vessel" Epiphanius, Panarion, 78:21 (A.D. 377).

"And if the God-bearing flesh was not ordained to be assumed of the lump of Adam, what need was there of the Holy Virgin?" Basil, To the Sozopolitans, Epistle 261 (A.D. 377).

"The first thing which kindles ardour in learning is the greatness of the teacher. What is greater than the Mother of God? What more glorious than she whom Glory Itself chose? What more chaste than she who bore a body without contact with another body? For why should I speak of her other virtues? She was a virgin not only in body but also in mind, who stained the sincerity of its disposition by no guile, who was humble in heart, grave in speech, prudent in mind, sparing of words, studious in reading, resting her hope not on uncertain riches, but on the prayer of the poor, intent on work, modest in discourse; wont to seek not man but God as the judge of her thoughts, to injure no one, to have goodwill towards all, to rise up before her elders, not to envy her equals, to avoid boastfulness, to follow reason, to love virtue." Ambrose, On Virginity, 2:15 (A.D. 377).

"Recalling these and other circumstances and imploring the Virgin Mary to bring assistance, since she, too, was a virgin and had been in danger, she entrusted herself to the remedy of fasting and sleeping on the ground." Gregory of Nazianzen, Oration 24:11 (A.D. 379).

"If anyone does not believe that Holy Mary is the Mother of God, he is severed from the Godhead. If anyone should assert that He passed through the Virgin as through a channel, and was not at once divinely and humanly formed in her (divinely, because without the intervention of a man; humanly, because in accordance with the laws of gestation), he is in like manner godless." Gregory of Nazianzen, To Cledonius, Epistle 101 (A.D. 382).

" 'There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a flower shall grow out of his roots.' The rod is the mother of the Lord--simple, pure, unsullied; drawing no germ of life from without but fruitful in singleness like God Himself...Set before you the blessed Mary, whose surpassing purity made her meet to be the mother of the Lord." Jerome, To Eustochium, Epistle 22:19,38 (A.D. 384).

"We must except the holy Virgin Mary, concerning whom I wish to raise no question when it touches the subject of sins, out of honour to the Lord; for from Him we know what abundance of grace for overcoming sin in every particular was conferred upon her who had the merit to conceive and bear Him who undoubtedly had no sin." Augustine, Nature and Grace, 36:42 (A.D. 415).

"Hail, Mary, you are the most precious creature in the whole world; hail, Mary, uncorrupt dove; hail, Mary, inextinguishable lamp; for from you was born the Sun of justice...through you, every faithful soul achieves salvation.� Cyril of Alexandria, Homily 11 at Ephesus (A.D. 431).

"If anyone will not confess that the Emmanuel is very God, and that therefore the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God (theotokos), inasmuch as in the flesh she bore the Word of God made flesh [as it is written, 'The Word was made flesh' let him be anathema." Council of Ephesus [Cyril's Epistle 17], Anathema I (A.D. 431).

"A Virgin conceived, a Virgin bore, and a Virgin she remains." Peter Chyrsologus, Sermon 117 (post A.D. 432).

"And by a new nativity He was begotten, conceived by a Virgin, born of a Virgin, without paternal desire, without injury to the mother's chastity: because such a birth as knew no taint of human flesh, became One who was to be the Saviour of men, while it possessed in itself the nature of human substance. For when God was born in the flesh, God Himself was the Father, as the archangel witnessed to the Blessed Virgin Mary: 'because the Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee: and therefore, that which shall be born of thee shall be called holy, the Son of God.' The origin is different but the nature like: not by intercourse with man but by the power of God was it brought about: for a Virgin conceived, a Virgin bare, and a Virgin she remained�For the uncorrupt nature of Him that was born had to guard the primal virginity of the Mother, and the infused power of the Divine Spirit had to preserve in spotlessness and holiness that sanctuary which He had chosen for Himself: that Spirit (I say) who had determined to raise the fallen, to restore the broken, and by overcoming the allurements of the flesh to bestow on us in abundant measure the power of chastity: in order that the virginity which in others cannot be retained in child-bearing, might be attained by them at their second birth." Pope Leo the Great [regn. A.D. 440-461], in Sermon 22:2 (ante A.D. 461).

Mary is our Powerful Intercessor

"For as Eve was seduced by the word of an angel to flee from God, having rebelled against His Word, so Mary by the word of an angel received the glad tidings that she would bear God by obeying his Word. The former was seduced to disobey God, but the latter was persuaded to obey God, so that the Virgin Mary might become the advocate of the virgin Eve. As the human race was subjected to death through [the act of] a virgin, so it was saved by a virgin." Irenaeus, Against Heresies, V:19,1 (A.D. 180).

"Under your mercy we take refuge, O Mother of God. Do not reject our supplications in necessity, but deliver us from danger,[O you] alone pure and alone blessed." Sub Tuum Praesidium, From Rylands Papyrus, Egypt (3rd century).

"Let, then, the life of Mary be as it were virginity itself, set forth in a likeness, from which, as from a mirror, the appearance of chastity and the form of virtue is reflected.... Nor would I hesitate to admit you to the altars of God, whose souls I would without hesitation call altars, on which Christ is daily offered for the redemption of the body. For if the virgin's body be a temple of God, what is her soul, which, the ashes, as it were, of the body being shaken off, once more uncovered by the hand of the Eternal Priest, exhales the vapor of the divine fire. Blessed virgins, who emit a fragrance through divine grace as gardens do through flowers, temples through religion, altars through the priest." Ambrose, On Virginity II:6,18 (A.D. 378).

"Recalling these and other circumstances and imploring the Virgin Mary to bring assistance, since she, too, was a virgin and had been in danger, she entrusted herself to the remedy of fasting and sleeping on the ground." Gregory of Nazianzen, Oration 24:11 (A.D. 379).

"For it is said that he [Gregory the Wonderworker] heard the one who had appeared in womanly form exhorting John the Evangelist to explain to the young man the mystery of the true faith. John, in his turn, declared that he was completely willing to please the Mother of the Lord even in this matter and this was the one thing closest to his heart. And so the discussion coming to a close, and after they had made it quite clear and precise for him, the two disappeared from his sight." Gregory of Nyssa, On Gregory the WonderWorker (A.D. 380).

"Mary, the holy Virgin, is truly great before God and men. For how shall we not proclaim her great, who held within her the uncontainable One, whom neither heaven nor earth can contain?" Epiphanius, Panarion, 30:31 (ante A.D. 403).

"Give milk, Mother to him who is our food, give milk to the bread coming down from heaven ...give milk to him who made you such that he could be made fruitfulness in conception and in birth, did not take from you the ornament of virginity." Augustine, Sermon 369:1 (A.D. 430).

"Hail to thee Mary, Mother of God, to whom in towns and villages and in island were founded churches of true believers." Cyril of Alexandria, Homily 11 (ante A.D. 444).

"Hail, our desirable gladness; Hail, O rejoicing of the Churches; Hail, O name that breathes out sweetness; Hail, face that radiates divinity and grace; Hail, most venerable memory�" Theodotus of Ancrya, Homily 4:3 (ante A.D. 446).

"The Virgin's festival (parthenike panegyris) incites our tongue today to herald her praise ...handmaid and Mother, Virgin and heaven, the only bridge of God to men, the awful loom of the Incarnation, in which by some unspeakable way the garment of that union was woven, whereof the weaver is the Holy Ghost; and the spinner the overshadowing from on high; the wool the ancient fleece of Adam; the woof the undefiled flesh from the virgin, the weaver's shuttle the immense grace of Him who brought it about; the artificer the Word gliding through the hearing." Proclus of Constantinople, Homily 1 (ante A.D. 446).

"The Virgin received Salvation so that she may give it back to the centuries." Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 140 (ante A.D. 450).

"O Virgin all holy, he who has said of you all that is honorable and glorious has not sinned against the truth, but remains unequal to your merit. Look down upon us from above and be propitious to us. Lead us in peace and having brought us without shame to the throne of judgment, grant us a place at the right hand of your Son, that we may borne off to heaven and sing with angels to the uncreated, consubstantial Trinity. " Basil of Seleucia, PG 85:452 (ante A.D. 459).

"Cease your laments; I will make myself your advocate in my Son's presence. Meanwhile, no more sadness, because I have brought joy to the world. For it is to destroy the kingdom of sorrow that I have come into the world: I full of grace ... Then curb your tears; accept me as your mediatrix in the presence of him who was born from me, because the author of joy is the God generated before all ages. Remain calm; be troubled no longer: I come from him, full of grace." Romanos the Singer, On Christmas 2,10-11 (ante A.D. 560).

"Raised to heaven, she remains for the human race an unconquerable rampart, interceding for us before her Son and God." Theoteknos of Livias, Assumption 291(ante A.D. 560).

"Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, because thou didst conceive Christ, the Son of God, the Redeemer of our souls." Coptic Ostraca (A.D. 600).

"Mary the Ever-Virgin -- radiant with divine light and full of grace, mediatrix first through her supernatural birth and now because of the intercession of her maternal assistance -- be crowned with never ending blessings ...seeking balance and fittingness in all things, we should make our way honestly, as sons of light." Germanus of Constantinople, Homily on the Liberation of Constantinople, 23 (ante A.D. 733).

"O, how marvelous it is! She acts as a mediatrix between the loftiness of God and the lowliness of the flesh, and becomes Mother of the Creator." Andrew of Crete, Homily 1 on Mary's Nativity (ante A.D. 740).

"She is all beautiful, all near to God. For she, surpassing the cherubim. Exalted beyond the seraphim, is placed near to God." John of Damascene, Homily on the Nativity, 9 (ante A.D. 749).

"We today also remain near you, O Lady. Yes, I repeat, O Lady, Mother of God and Virgin. We bind our souls to your hope, as to a most firm and totally unbreakable anchor, consecrating to you mind, soul, body, and all our being and honoring you, as much as we can, with psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles." John of Damascene, Homily 1 on the Dormition, 14 (ante A.D. 749).

"Let us entrust ourselves with all our soul's affection to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin: let us all, with all our strength, beg her patronage, that, at the moment when on earth we surround her with our suppliant homage, she herself may deign in heaven to commend us with fervent prayer. For without any doubt she who merited to bring ransom for those who needed deliverance, can more than all the saints benefit by her favor those who have received deliverance." Ambrose Autpert, Assumption of the Virgin, (ante A.D. 778).

"Let us approach with confident spirit the throne of the high Priest, where he is our victim, priest, advocate and judge." Radbert Paschasius, On the Assumption (ante A.D. 786).

"For she who brought forth the source of mercy, Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, receiving from him all things, will and through him, grant the wishes of all." Paul the Deacon, (ante A.D. 799).

"You scatter your favors with still greater abundance since you possess more fully him who is their source and who is entirely willing to give them to us, rather you possess almost everything by yourself and you show largesse to whom you will and to him who begs it of you." John the Geometer, Life of Mary (A.D. 989).

"May we deserve to have the help of your intercession in heaven, because as the Son of God has deigned to descend to us through you, so we also must come to him with you." Peter Damian, (ante A.D. 1072).

"The Mother of God is our mother. May the good mother ask and beg for us, may she request and obtain what is good for us." Anselm, Oration 7(ante A.D. 1109).

"O whoever you may be who feel yourself on the tide of this world drifting in storms and tempests rather than treading firm ground, turn not your eyes from the effulgence of this star, unless you wish to be submerged ... if she holds you, you do not fall, if she protects you, you have no fear; with her to lead you, you tire not; with her favour, you will reach your goal, conscious thus within yourself how rightly the word was spoken: 'And the Virgin's name was Mary.'" Bernard, Homily 2:17, Respice stellam (ante A.D. 1153).

Rediscovering The Bridge Between The Old And The New Testaments

A true understanding of Mary and her role in salvation can come only from a full understanding of Scripture and the portrayal of Mary in Scripture. This full understanding comes from careful study of the two covenants between God and His people, the Old and the New. Mary is the bridge between the Old and the New Covenants. The two covenants are basic to the divine plan of salvation and Mary's role in salvation history becomes apparent when we see that she is the living embodiment of fundamental themes in the Old and the New Testaments: as the Daughter of Zion, the Ark of the Covenant, the new Eve working with the new Adam. Once we come to understand the scriptural Mary our entire understanding of the meaning of Scripture will be transformed. In fact the various Marian doctrines and devotions only dimly convey the full majesty of Mary as she is portrayed in Scripture. Luke 1 and 2 alone, as we shall see, is a compendium of all the major Marian doctrines. Continued reflection on Scripture is essential for a better understanding of the Mary that the first Christians, the Fathers of the Church and even the Protestant Reformers saw in Scripture.

For the early Christian Church the place of Mary in Scripture involved three dimensions. First, Mary was seen as the meeting-point of the old and the New Testaments embodying both the People of Israel (the "Daughter of Zion") and the new-

born Church. Secondly, Mary was seen in relation to the divine plan of salvation as the New Eve working with the New Adam. Thirdly, Mary was understood against the background of what we call the seven splendors, the references in Genesis, Isaiah, Micah, the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, Galatians and Revelation. We will outline all three of these dimensions and then review them in more detail.

(b) Two Centuries Without the Scriptural Mary

Over the last two centuries many Christians have lost the Scriptural Mary venerated and praised by all Christians in every other century. Two factors in particular led to this loss. The first was the decision to ignore the interpretations of Scripture adopted historically by the Christian faithful and to replace these with one's own interpretations. The second was the decision to ignore the divine inspiration of Scripture so as to make interpretations solely using the criteria and tools employed by professional historians. The first factor led to the Fundamentalists and the second to the Liberals.

Neither Liberal New Testament scholars nor Fundamentalists can be of great help to the Bible-believing Christian who seeks to know the truths shown in Scripture. Although the Liberal scholars can speculate on the sources and dates and the various possible meanings and senses of the New Testament texts they cannot tell us what truths God intended to teach through these texts. Only the early Christian community inspired by the Holy Spirit could determine the true divinely-intended meaning and interpretation of these texts. Similarly, since they have cut themselves off from 20 centuries of Spirit-inspired Christian interpretation, Fundamentalist writers can only offer us their own speculations on the meanings and senses of the various passages in Scripture. And these speculations are just as uncertain and arbitrary as the speculation of the Liberal scholars. The real issue for the Christian believer is not whether we should rely on Scripture alone but whether or not we can have an authoritative interpretation of Scripture. From the time of the early Church the Christian community has affirmed and taught what they hold to be an authoritative, consistent and binding interpretation of Scripture.

Ultimately both Liberals and the Fundamentalists seek to determine the intentions of the New Testament writers. This may involve a lot of discussion on the connotation of various Greek terms and the like. But the intention of the writers is precisely what we can never really know. And even if it were possible to discern the intention of a particular biblical writer, it may turn out that this is not the intention decreed by God for a particular verse. For instance, the writer of an Old Testament prophecy may have no idea what is required for the fulfillment-of the prophecy�this will become known only at the time that the prophecy is fulfilled. Only the Christian community�because it would be guided by the Holy Spirit�can make progress in determining the divine intention and even the actual writer of a text may not grasp the true intention served by the text.

It might be said that the interpretations historically made by the Christian community may not be acceptable to today's New Testament scholars. But an interpretation guided by the Holy Spirit has an authority far higher than the arbitrary interpretation of a New Testament scholar. The historic interpretations of the Christian community are reflected in the writings of the Fathers, Councils, and liturgies.

The Rediscovery of Mary in Scripture

Despite the negative impact of Liberalism and Fundamentalism on theology, modern exegesis has also led to the rediscovery of Mary in Scripture. This rediscovery has been spearheaded by such major scholars as Ignace de la Potterie, Stefano Manelli, Rene Laurentin, A. Feuillet and William Most who have used the resources of contemporary exegesis to re-discover the Scriptural Mary known to the Christian world from the beginning.

For biblical studies on Mary this is a time of rediscovery. The biblical Mary of the apostolic community and the Fathers was deeply rooted in the Old Testament and the entire salvific message of the New Testament. The overwhelming presence of Mary in Scripture led both to the great definitions of Marian doctrine and the liturgical devotions. Without an understanding of the Scriptural portrait of Mary it is difficult to truly appreciate the Marian doctrines. Even at the time of the Protestant Reformation, the Marian imprint on Scripture was evident to both Catholics and Protestants. It was certainly evident to Martin Luther.

Many Post-Reformation Protestants, however, seem to be suffering from collective amnesia on the question of Mary. Despite their ardent commitment to Scripture, the Fundamentalists have failed to see any Marian connection in Scripture. Nevertheless today Protestant and Catholic exegetes and theologians have rediscovered the Marian "mother lode" not just of the New but also of the Old Testament. Like the Fathers, the modern exegetes now see Mary as the Daughter of Zion, the embodiment of Nation Israel, as the Ark of the Covenant, as "transformed by grace", as the New Eve, as the bride at the Messianic Wedding Banquet and as the Church. If this development in understanding was simply a modern fad we could legitimately call it into question. But it is actually a rediscovery of what the Christian community from the earliest times and the Scriptures themselves so obviously tell us about Mary. In this chapter on Mary in Scripture we will look first at Mary's role as the link between the two Testaments, followed by a review of the Marian data in Luke 1-2, Genesis-Revelation and the rest Of the New Testament and finally an analysis of the seven splendors of Mary in Scripture. Anyone who comes to see the full spectrum of Marian material in the Bible will spontaneously see the fittingness of the titles and doctrines of Mary.

Before proceeding further a word must be said about the fact that many of the Scriptural themes relevant to Mary are given as prophecies or prefigurings. Most Christians know that many of the events narrated in the New Testament are fulfillments of Old Testament prophecies. The general idea that New Testament events fulfill Old Testament prophecies and pre-figurings comes not just from the Evangelists but from Jesus Himself: "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." [Luke 4:21]. On some occasions the New Testament writers draw the reader's attention to the fact that a specific event is the fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy: for example, "And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, and He was numbered with the transgressors" [Mark 15:28]. On other occasions, the reader is left to discern for himself the prophetic connection: for instance, the portrayal of Christ as the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world is an obvious reference to the fulfillment of the Old Testament Passover in which lambs were sacrificed. The fulfillment of the prophecies and pre-figurings of Jesus and Mary in the Old Testament are thus not always heralded as such in the New. The faithful, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, discerned the prophetic fulfillment. Marie Isaacs points out that Luke did not usually spell out the prophetic connection of events but made these connections clear through allusions: "The primary data for ... theological reflection was not only the traditions about Jesus but also the OT. In Matthew this is obvious, not least because the evangelist himself makes it overt. By using the formula, 'All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet', he tells us clearly that he is viewing the events of the birth of Christ against the backcloth of the OT. When we look at the Infancy Narrative in the Third Gospel, we find no such direct reference to the OT. But this does not mean that Luke's account is any the less a reflection upon scripture. It is simply that his method of introducing his texts is different from that of Matthew. Rather than use direct quotations he employs a welter of allusions to the OT. This is most obvious in the canticles. These great hymns of thanksgiving and praise, put into the mouths of Mary and Zechariah, are a pastiche made up of phrases taken from the Jewish scriptures ... Luke is so steeped in the language and thought of the OT that the Magnificat and Benedictus abound in both. And the same can be said, not only of the canticles, but also of the narrative sections of Luke's account of the birth of Christ." (1)

An appropriate ending to this section is the conclusion of Stefano Manalli's powerful new scriptural study of Mary, "All Generations Shall Call He Blessed":

"Among many possible choices there are two texts of sacred Scripture that would express most forcefully and symbolize most meaningfully, the mystery of Mary: expressing her extraordinarily graced personality; emblematic of her universal salvific mission linked with that of her Son until the end of human history. The first is that of Genesis: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and your seed and her seed: she will crush your head, and you will lie in wait for her heel" (3:15). The second is that of Revelation: "And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars" (12:1).

Prophecy and final (eschatological) fulfillment, Incarnation and redemption are recapitulated in these two biblical texts intertwined with one another in delineating for us the exalted figure of Mary: at her first appearance in the Old Testament as "the morning rising" (Song 6:9), and in the New Testament with the full brightness of midday, "clothed with the sun" (Rev 12:1).

In the first text (Gen 3:15), significantly called the Protoevangelium, we are made aware of the figure and mission of Mary that foretell the messianic salvation of mankind.

The "woman" is the Mother of the Messiah-Redeemer, prefigured and symbolized down the subsequent centuries and millennia on many pages of the ancient revelation that accompanied and illumined the path of the Chosen People. In the second text (and its context: Rev 12:1-18), as it were a summary of the entire biblical "revelation" of the mystery of Mary, we contemplate her image and mission in the splendor of the eternal midday, the superhuman prodigy of maternal Queenship over the created universe, over both heaven and earth.

In the first text (Gen 3:15) we preview, antithetically, the reality of Mary's mission: in opposition to the serpent (the "enmity"); in union with the Messiah-Redeemer (her "seed") fighting and crushing the head of the serpent; in contrast with Eve, seduced and conquered by the serpent (Gen 3:13; 2 Cor 11:13). The prophetic vision embraces the entire salvific plan. In the words of Genesis 3:15, "there opens a vision of the whole of Revelation," writes Pope John Paul II, "first as a preparation for the Gospel and then as the Gospel itself". The dramatic scene of Genesis 3:15 speaks of mystery and in revealing it pinpoints our gaze on this "woman", so heroic and sublime�the antithesis of poor Eve�who goes forth with her Son to reverse the fortunes of fallen man.

In the second text (Rev 12), we contemplate, in metahistorical synthesis, the reality of the person and mission of Mary, the "woman" radiant in grace ("clothed with the sun"), in royal majesty over the angels (the crown of "stars") and over creation ("the moon under her feet"), Mother of God incarnate ("the male child") and Mother of the Church ("the rest of her offspring"), which is the Mystical Body of Christ, begotten and co-

redeemed by her on Calvary amidst sufferings ("she cried out in the anguish of delivery"), the powerful adversary, Satan ("the great dragon"), checkmated and rendered impotent by the mystery of the Immaculate Conception, of the Assumption, and of the Queenship.

The tableau of Revelation 12 is complete with its magnificent scenario, rich in illustrative detail, even if in every instance not easily understood. On this scene converge, marvelously coordinated, every dimension of the redemptive plan traced out in the Old and New Testaments touching the "mystery of that 'woman' who, from the first chapters of the Book of Genesis up to the Book of Revelation, accompanies the unveiling of God's salvific plan for humanity.', In the light of Revelation 12, we can formulate these fundamental conclusions about the "mystery of that 'woman'".

Mary is the "woman" (Rev 12:1), the same "woman" of the Protoevangelium (Gen 3:15), of whom "is born" the son of God; sent by the Father (Gal 4:4);3 the "woman" present and wholly absorbed in the sufferings of her Son crucified on Calvary (Jn 19:25-26).

Mary is the "virgin" who is shown alone with the Son, without husband, in the proto-evangelium (Gen 3:15), then in Isaiah (7:14), and in Micah (5:2); her virginity prefigured by the "burning bush" (Ex 3:1-11), by the "rod of Aaron" (Num 9:16-24), by the "fleece of Gideon" (Jg 6:36-40), by the "enclosed garden, sealed fountain" (Song 4:12); finally, described by St. Matthew and by St. Jude in terms of the most essential biographical and historical facts of her life.

Mary is the "mother", pregnant and giving birth to a son, though remaining a virgin, according to the prophecies of Genesis 3:15, Isaiah 7:14, Micah 5:1-2; and the woman "Mother of the Lord" or "Mother of Jesus", as she is called eleven times in the New Testament; she is the "mother" of mankind, represented by St. John on Calvary (Jn 19:25-27).

Mary is the "spouse": not only the virginal, legal spouse of St. Joseph (Mt 1:18; Lk 1:27), but the virginal, real spouse of God the Father who willed her to be the Mother, according to His human nature, of His only-begotten Son (Gal 4:4); the spouse of God the Son, the redeemer, who intimately associated her with Himself in His redemptive work, as the new Eve beside the "new Adam"; the spouse of God the Holy Spirit, who, overshadowing her enabled her to conceive Jesus (Lk 1:35).

Mary is the woman immaculate: namely, she is the only human creature unstained by sin, because, together with her Son, she is the unvanquished, victorious adversary of the infernal serpent (Gen 3:15); not only this, but she is the only creature "full of grace" (Lk 1:28), true panhaghia (all holy one), pure "dawn" (Song 6:9) of the sun who is Christ, "fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature" in order to become Mother of Word Incarnate.

Mary is the co-redemptrix, associated with her Son in the work of ransoming man from sin (Gen 3:15), strong as "an army set in array" (Song 6:9), already prefigured by the "strong", courageous women of Israel, present at the foot of the cross on Calvary (Jn 19:25-27).

Mary is the Mediatrix, who brings Jesus to men and men to Jesus, who cares for things spiritual and temporal (Lk 1:39ff.; Jn 2:1-11) present and active at the birth of the Church on Calvary (Jn 19:25-27) and in the Cenacle (Acts 1:14).

Mary is the Queen, who wears on her head the crown of twelve stars (Rev 12:2) signifying the angels (the "stars"), the twelve tribes of Israel (the Chosen People) and the twelve apostles (the Church). She is the Queen assumed into heaven, carried on the wings of the "great eagle" (Rev 12:14), dashing to the ground the destructive furies of the "dragon" (Rev 12:3-4). She is the "exalted daughter of Zion", seated as "Queen at the right hand" of the King in the kingdom of heaven (Ps 44:10).

Mary is the woman "blessed" for the faith she placed in the words of the angel Gabriel at the Annunciation (Lk 1:45), for hearing and observing the Word of God (Lk 11:27-28), for her faithful fulfillment of the will of the Father (Mk 3:31-35), as the "poor one of Yahweh" (Ps 9) and "the handmaid of the Lord" (Lk 1:38).

From the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation, therefore, we may well underscore how this "woman" according to the design of God the Father is always one with her Son, always relative to that Son, "leaning upon her beloved" (Song 8:15), intimately associated with Him in the same mission of saving man and leading him back to the bosom of the Father.

At every crucial point in the history of salvation, from the Protoevangelium, after the fall of our first parents (Gen 3:15), to the announcement of the incarnation of the Word (Lk 1:26ff.), from the beginning of the public mission of Jesus at Cana (Jn 2:1-11), to His redemptive sacrifice consummated on the Cross (in 19:25-27), up to the accomplishment of the very last detail in the universal salvific plan (Rev 12), Mary is the "woman" always present with her Son, never alone, to fulfill her role of "generous companion and humble handmaid of the Lord".

And together with the Son there are "children", these also brothers and "co-heirs" of Christ (Rom 8:17), who constitute the Mystical Body, the Church. Thus, in Genesis 3:15, the "woman" is presented together with her "seed" (which also has an inclusive sense); at Cana (Jn 2:1-11) the "woman" is with the first "disciples" of Jesus; on Calvary (Jn 19: 25-27), at the foot of the Cross the "woman" has beside her John the Evangelist, who represents all the "disciples" of Jesus; in Revelation 12, finally, the "woman" is found again with "the rest of her offspring" (the Church).

To conclude, then, Mary's whole reason for existing is found in the Son (and in the children), according to the salvific plan of God the Father. Without the Son, Mary would not have existed at all. This is a thesis dear to dogmatic theologians, and "soundly based on fact".

In this concluding summary, it is necessary to observe how, by prophecy in the Old Testament, by existence in the New, the maternity and the co-redemption, the mediation and the Queenship�all rooted in the divine, virginal maternity�give us the most complete biblical and theological portrait of Mary as the "woman" conceived and willed by God "from the beginning and before the world was created" (Sir 24:14), planned by Him "in one and the same decree, with the Son (bull Ineffabilis Deus), "blessed" among all women (Lk 1:42), "woman" with all the potential of the so-called "eternal feminine", "woman" virgin, daughter, spouse, mother, each to the full extent of perfection these terms signify, in living relation with God the Father, of whom Mary is daughter, with God the Son, of whom Mary is Mother, with God the Holy Spirit, of whom Mary is spouse; in living relation with the Church and with mankind, of whom Mary is "mother in the order of grace".

Thus, Mary realizes in herself the highest synthesis of nature and grace; an ineffable synthesis at its base and at its crown, alpha and omega, as it were, of the human person associated with the Divine Person of the Word Incarnate�the divine "alpha and omega" (Rev 1:8)�the work of universal salvation, by a unique, absolutely exclusive, distinctive relation: the "relation" of virginal maternity embracing the corporal and the spiritual, the human and the divine. (2)


2. Mary The Bridge Between The Old And The New Testaments

The richness of the Scriptural portrait of Mary is manifested most prominently in the Old Testament prophecies and prefigurings of Mary and the New Testament passages that portray her as the link between the Old and the New Covenants. Mary serves as a link between the two Covenants not just through parallel or prophetic verses but by embodying common themes. She is a bridge between the Old and the New Testaments because Scripture shows her representing both the people of Israel and the Church begun by her Son. The Scriptural images of Mary in the context of both Testaments are astounding in their variety. We see Mary as:

The New Eve, the Virgin Mother prophesied in the Old Testament
The embodiment of all the qualities prefigured in the heroines of the Old Testament
The people of Israel, the Daughter of Zion
The Ark of the Covenant: the parallels are too numerous to be ignored
The Church
The exalted Mother of Jesus
The Mother of all the Faithful
Spouse, Mother and Daughter

The mystery of Mary's role in the Old and the New Covenants is brilliantly underscored by Ignace de la Potterie: "A very important insight of modern exegesis has brought to light that the mystery of Mary forms in some way the synthesis of all the former revelation about the people of God, and of all that God by his salvific action wishes to realize for his people. In Mary are accomplished all the important aspects of the promises of the Old Testament to the Daughter of Zion, and in her real person there is an anticipation which will be realized for the new people of God, the Church. The history of revelation on the subject of the theme of the Woman Zion, realized in the person of Mary, and continued in the Church, constitutes a doctrinal bastion, an unshakable structured ensemble for the comprehension of the history of salvation, from its origin up to its eschatology. A vision of the mystery of Mary, biblically founded, ecclesiologically integrated and structurally developed, gives then a complete image of the concrete realization of the total mystery of the Covenant." (3)

In Down to Earth: The New Protestant Vision of the Virgin Mary, the Protestant theologian John de Satge highlights Mary's position with respect to the Old and the New Testaments: "She is the climax of the Old Testament people, the one to whom the cloud of witnesses from the ancient era look as their crowning glory, for it was through her response to grace that their Vindicator came to stand upon the earth. In the order of redemption she is the first fruits of her Son's saving work, the one among her Son's people who has gone all the way. And in the order of her Son's people, she is the mother." (4)

Three other Scripture scholars may be cited here. In an ecumenical conference on Mary, Ralph Russell draws attention to the witness to Mary in Scripture as a whole:

Scripture must be seen as a whole. The Holy Spirit who inspired it means it to be seen in entirety. Then the 'Woman' in Genesis will be answered by the Woman in the Book of Revelation (ch. 12), the Fall will go to the Annunciation, Adam with Christ (cf. St Paul), Eve with Mary. This is the way the earliest fathers saw Scripture and if we look through their eyes we shall not be tempted to think that the Bible has little to say about Mary's place in the work of her divine Son, the one redeemer. Another way of approach is to ask what is the central event to which all salvation history builds up? St. Paul answers that: 'When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman' (Gal 4:4). What more has Scripture to tell us about this?

The Old Testament prophets, struggling, against the spirit of proud self-sufficiency, to shift attention from man to God, had spoken of the anawim, the humble and lowly people, who 'leant upon the Lord, the holy one of Israel, in truth' (Is. 10:20). They were not necessarily poor as a class, for David was one, but they usually were. They were conscious of their need for God, ready to wait and serve, with the trusting love of a child for their saviour. This is the meaning of the 'poor' in the Isaian passage which Jesus applies to himself: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor' (Luke 4:18; Is 61:1); and the first of the Beatitudes is 'Blessed are the poor in spirit' (Matt. 5:3; cf. Luke 6:20). The flower of the poor and humble of the Lord is the 'handmaid of the Lord, who said 'let it be to me according to your word'. and 'he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden, (Luke 1:38, 48).

From other Old Testament themes, provided they are read with traditional Jewish and Christian interpretations, there emerges the figure of the woman, mother of the redeemer. There is Matthew's interpretation of Isaiah: 'All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

"Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son"' (Matt. 1:22ff.; Is. 7:14). There is Genesis 3:15, the enmity between the woman and the serpent, her seed and his seed, of which more later. There is the prophetic figure of the Daughter of Sion. This takes us to St. Luke and the Annunciation.

The angel says to Mary: 'Hail full of grace, (or10 favoured one'), the Lord is with you,. And then 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have favour (or 'grace') with God.

And behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus (Yahweh-Saviour) (Luke 1:28-31). The Old Testament background to this is Zephaniah 3:14-17: 'Sing aloud, O daughter of Sion ... The Lord is in your midst ... Do not fear, O Sion, the Lord your God is in your midst (your womb), a warrior who gives victory'. So in Luke 'hail' means rejoice, with messianic joy, and Mary, 'favoured one' or 'full of grace' is seen as the Daughter of Sion, who realizes the hopes and longings of Israel's history, and in a more wonderful way the Lord will be in her midst. The angel goes on, in the words of the prophecy of Nathan, to tell her that her Son will be the Messiah, and when Mary asks 'How shall this be, because I have not husband?' he explains: 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the most high will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, Son of God' (Luke 1:32-35). 'Overshadow' refers to the Shekinah, the cloud of God's presence which went with the Israelites in the desert, filled the temple of Solomon, appeared at the transfiguration and the ascension, and according to Israelite tradition, covered with its shadow the Ark of the Covenant (cf. Exodus 40:35). Thus Mary, like the Ark, becomes God's resting place on earth. 'Son of God' is a messianic title, but its full meaning will be gradually unfolded, and gradually also Christian faith will come to Be what it means to be God's Mother. Mary's humble answer, "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word" is an unhesitating acceptance of her place in God's redemptive plan. This is what the second century fathers saw, together with its consequences for salvation: "The knot of Eve's disobedience, says Irenaeus, 'was untied by Mary's obedience, and in her obedience Mary became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race' (Adv. Haer. 3, 22, 4; PG 7, 959)." (5).

Rene Laurentin sees Mary's presence in the OT on three planes:

Mary is seen to be envisaged in three ways by the Old Testament.

Moral Preparation

From among mankind disgraced by sin, God untangles a line of faith and holiness at the end of which his Son will be able to be born into the human race without the contamination of sin. The last stage of this progress is found in the privileged circle of the "poor of Israel." Mary explicitly places herself in this group in the Magnificat (Lk. 1:48, 52) ...

Typological Preparation

God's plan for the world works toward accomplishment according to the slow cadence of human duration, slowed down the more by the inertia of sin. God does not bring perfection to be all at once, but gradually. At each stage of the plan of salvation�Israel, the Church, heaven�one can discern the sketch and prefiguration of the perfect forms that will be reached at the end. At each stage in the development of an embryo the imperfect forms of the organs on their way to full formation can be detected. There is no more delicate task than to appreciate these developmental relationships. In the final analysis, only Scripture and Tradition can authentically discern typological equivalents. In what concerns Mary, the types are found principally in three lines:

1. First there are the women of the Old Testament, notably those who were favored with miraculous births, those who were ancestors of the Messiah, those who contributed to the triumph and salvation of Israel. By taking up in connection with Mary the words that concerned Sarah, "Nothing is impossible with God," (Gen 18:14 and Lk. 1:37), or Judith (Jud 13:18-19 and Lk. 1:42), Luke gave the first guidelines for this typology.

2. But Luke compares Mary especially to Israel in its ensemble. He identifies her with the Daughter of Zion according to Zeph. 3:14-17, an identification that is found again in substance in John 19:25-27 and in the twelfth chapter of the Apocalypse ...

3. Finally, the Daughter of Zion was the place where Yahweh rested. Thus Luke glimpsed in Mary the new Ark of the Covenant, the eschatological resting-place of Yahweh Savior. In this comparison he opened the way to a typology involving sacred objects ...

Prophetic Preparation

Mary was prefigured not only by realities corresponding to her in nature or function, but also by words that announced her in advance ... Two series of texts merit attention:

(a) Eschatological texts whose meaning applies to Mary and at the same time to the Church; (b) Texts that apply to the Mother of the Messiah. (6).

Finally, Stefano Mannelli tells us:

The Mariology of the Old Testament has all the essential characteristics of a Mariology at its "roots". In that Mariology are contained in fact the "roots" of that unique, precious plant that is Mary most holy. From those "roots" has sprung, in the New Testament, the one "full of grace" (Lk 1:28), the Mother of God and of the new humanity. In these mariological texts of the Old Testament are discovered the "roots" of the mystery of Mary, predestined "in one and the same decree" (Ineffabilis Deus) to be the "woman". Mother of the New Adam, with whom she is united in the same "enmity" for the serpent whose head is to be crushed (Gen 3:15). This "woman" is the Virgin Mother of Emmanuel, that is, of "God with us" (Is 7:14). She is the "woman in travail" bearing God made man, the Savior of the "remnant of Israel", of the People of God (Mic 5:1-2).

The two mysteries of the Incarnation and of the redemption, foreshadowed in these prophetic oracles, are intimately linked to the mysteries of the Immaculate Conception (Gen 3:15), the divine and virginal maternity (Is 7:14), and the co-redemption (Gen 3:15) attributed to the "woman in travail" of Bethlehem (Mic 5:1-2).

Together with these three fundamental Mariological texts, we also find in the Old Testament an abundance of minor texts that converge to give to those "roots" a certain consistency in prefiguring and symbolizing the extraordinary personality of Mary. Thus, we discover the "roots" of Mary in the "daughter of Zion" (Mic 4:8), in "the poor of Yahweh" (Ps 9), in "the strong woman" (Sir 26:2) who works for the regeneration and salvation of the people. We find her prefigured by Sarah, Rebecca, and Rachel, by Miriam, the sister of Moses, by Deborah, Abigail and Ruth, by Judith and by Esther. We can read of the virtues and sanctity of Mary in the various and richly allusive biblical symbols, such as the burning bush, the fleece of Gideon, the holy ark, the rainbow, Jacob's ladder, and in many others ...

We find, then, the Mariology of the New Testament already "sketched" in that of the Old. The figure and mission of Mary are already limned in the prophecies, in the figures, and in the symbols of the Old Testament. The prophecies foretell and describe her personality, outlining its primary characteristics: Mary's freedom from original sin because of her enmity with the serpent, her divine maternity as the Mother of "God with us", her virginal maternity as the virgin "in travail", the universal co-redemption because if her victory over the serpent whose head is crushed ...

In the New Testament, the entire Mariological content of the Old Testament is found to be fulfilled in the reality of the person and life of Mary, as the "woman", as the "virgin", as the 'mother" of the Emmanuel, as the exalted "Daughter of Zion", as endowed with those sublime gifts and virtues of more admirable women of the Old Covenant, and by the more suggestive, poetic symbols employed by the sacred writers. The great St. Augustine, therefore, was right when he wrote that "in the Old Testament is hidden the New, and in the New the Old becomes clear." That is especially true of Mariology, which has sprouted and flowered in the New Testament, an it were, from its "roots" in the Old. Mariology has developed from an admirable Old Testament "sketch" to that still more admirable portrait painted in the New.

St. Andrew of Crete once wrote that our Lady is "the seal of the Old and of the New Testament; she is clearly the fulfillment of every prophecy." (7).

In the era of the Old Covenant Mary is invited to be the mother of the Messiah because she has "won favor with God." In the era of the New Covenant she will be called blessed by "all generations" because she has "believed."

(b) Old Testament Prophecies of Mary

The most famous Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah are Genesis 3:15, Isaiah 7:14 and Micah 5:1-4. In all three prophecies the Mother of the Messiah plays a prominent part. The Genesis prophecy will be considered in a section below. Here we will study the prophecies in Isaiah and Micah.

These are the prophecies in Isaiah and Micah:

"The Lord spake again unto Ahaz, saying, Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord. And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." [Isaiah 7:10-14].

"But thou, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel. And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth. And this man shall be the peace", Micah [5:2-4]:

Concerning the prophecy in Isaiah which was made by the Prophet Isaiah to King Ahaz urging him to trust God rather than to rely on the Assyrians, Stefano Manelli points out, "Biblical- theological exegesis correctly insists on one literal, messianic, and Marian interpretation of this well-known prophecy: the Emmanuel of whom the prophet speaks is exclusively the future Messiah, Jesus Christ, and the childbearing virgin is exclusively Mary, the Virgin Mother of Jesus ... One must consider the well-nigh unanimous agreement with this interpretation on the part of the Fathers and ecclesiastical writers, both in the East and in the West, from St. Justin on. So, too, the uninterrupted teaching of the Magisterium of the Church, the witness of the liturgy and of sacred art (as early as that of the Catacombs of Priscilla in Rome) have favored this interpretation." Concerning modern theologians who deny this interpretation, Manelli writes, "they run counter to the practically unanimous view of the exegetical tradition and of the Faith of the Church. Yet modern, rationalistic exegetes cannot avoid facing the fact that if there are any prophecies of the Old Testament expressly cited in the new as fully verified, one is this precise passage from Isaiah, cited verbatim by St. Matthew and clearly referred to by St. Luke."

The prophecy is significant also for understanding Mary: "One of the fundamental ... points of Isaiah's prophecy surely concerns the virginal conception and parturition of the Mother of the Emmanuel. This is the object of the Church's belief in the perpetual, virginal integrity of Mary, before, during and after childbirth. The special sign that Isaiah offers the King on behalf of God is in fact this: a pregnant virgin, that is to say, a virgin who conceives a child while remaining a virgin; and a virgin giving birth, that is to say, a pregnant virgin who bears a son while still remaining a virgin�hence a virginal conception and virginal parturition: in conception and in the act of giving birth the Mother of the Immanuel remains always ,the virgin, ... With the virginal maternity is foreshadowed the royal and divine maternity, given that the Emmanuel is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that He is a royal descendant of David because, being born of Mary, He is also of David's lineage. Still another detail, particularly significant, is this: the prophet Isaiah states that the Mother of the Messiah will herself name her son, the fruit of her virginal womb ('She shall call his name Emmanuel' [Is 7:14]), even though this was contrary to traditional usage, whereby the father named the child. St. Luke underscores this same detail in recounting how the angel informed Mary she was to name the child she bore: 'You shall call his name Jesus' (Lk 1:31). The correspondence between prophecy and fulfillment on this point is perfect. Finally, the relation between the prophecy of Isaiah and that of Genesis is not to be overlooked. Mattioli writes: 'The reference of the Isaian text to the Protoevangelium (Gen 3:15) seems clearly evident. The mother and son, the Almah and the Immanuel, announced by Isaiah, appear neither more nor less than further delienations of the 'woman', and of the 'seed', the Issah and the Zera, promised in Genesis.

Manelli addresses one possible objection that could arise: "How can Ahaz verify the 'sign' the prophet offers, if the sign, will come to pass only eight centuries later? The difficulty can be resolved in this way. Isaiah in prophesying does not address himself to Ahaz, but to the 'house of David, (7:13), because the prophecy was intended to serve a far broader and weightier end, namely, that the Lord would keep his promise to preserve the line of David, and to make David's throne forever' stable through the Immanuel."

The Scripture scholar William Most addresses another kind of objection: "We cannot help noticing too that though many today deny that Isaiah 7:14 speaks of a virgin birth�although St. Matthew saw it�Mary could not have missed it. For she saw it being fulfilled in herself. It is true the Targum as we now have it did not mark this passage as messianic. But we know why, thanks to some splendidly honest modern Jewish scholars: Jacob Neusner (Messiah in Context, pp. 173 and 190), Samson Levey and E.J. Schoeps. Neusner tells us (p.190) that when the Jews saw the Christians using this prophecy, they pulled back, and said it was not the Messiah. But they gave themselves away, for the Targums do mark Isaiah 9:5-6 as messianic, and everyone admits that the child in 7:14 and 9:5-6 is the same child, for both passages belong to what is commonly called the book of Emmanuel."

About the prophecy in Micah, Manelli writes:

This Messiah-liberator, the prophet foretells, will be born in the tiny town of Bethlehem in the land of Ephrathah, not the Bethlehem of Galilee. Moreover in the prophecy it is said that the Messiah's origins are "from of old, from ancient days". The expression from ancient days can also mean everlasting days and thus would expressly indicate eternity, that is, the divine origin of the Messiah rather than merely His long descent from David. The prophet Micah, therefore, would appear to have foretold both the earthly and heavenly places of birth, both the human and divine origins of the Messiah ...

Meriting particular interest is the fact that Micah, rather than directly foretelling the Messiah, foretells His Mother instead, or more precisely, "a Queen-mother whom God raises up from his people to beget a new king, at a specific place and time and so in reality." [D. Colombo]. Furthermore, in making this prediction, the prophet adopts a phraseology so exact that its meaning must have been perfectly obvious to this listeners: the woman in travail shall bring forth. This brings one to the well-founded supposition that the people were already well acquainted with the prophecy of Isaiah: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bring forth a son ... For the prophet Micah, the concise expression, "the woman in travail shall bring forth", was sufficient to make himself understood by everyone ...

Finally, in the light of the prophecy already fulfilled, so in this prophecy as in that of Genesis 3:15 and in that of Isaiah 7:14, the figure of the mother is presented alone with her son. No earthly father of the Messiah-Savior is mentioned in any of the three great Old Testament prophecies. The mother appears always as virgin mother. The "virginity" of the mother is the ever-present, luminous backdrop for the event of the Annunciation and that of the birth of the Messiah. This virginity is an evident sign that the Messiah is truly a new creation, the new humanity, the beginning of the salvific era: the redemption." (10)

Old Testament Pre-figurings of Mary

In addition to prophecies, many of the individuals and events in the Old Testament pre-figure New Testament individuals and events. Just as the Israelites spent 40 years in the wilderness, for instance, Jesus spent 40 days in the desert. The twelve tribes of Israel pre-figure the coming of the 12 Apostles. Because Jesus exercised His Messianic Office as Priest, Prophet and King, all the priests, prophets and kings of Israel in some sense pre-figured Him. Similarly, many of the heroines of the Old Testament pre-figured Mary and at times the parallels are startling.

A table of comparisons is given below:


"Free" wife of Abraham unlike Hagar the slave wife. Although sterile she bears Isaac in her old age through a miracle of God. Isaac is the father of a great nation [Genesis 11].


Mary is the "free" wife who is free of any subjection to sin�"whoever commits sin is the slave of sin" [John 8:34]. She is a voluntary virgin who nevertheless conceives and bears her Son through a miracle. Her Son Jesus is the Head of the Mystical Body, the "firstborn among many brethren." [Romans 8:29].


Wife of Isaac who played a key role in the history of salvation. Abraham asked his servant Eliezer to request Rebecca to be the wife of Isaac. Her brothers tell Rebecca: "May you increase to thousands of thousands and may your seed possess the gates of their enemies." [Genesis 24:60]. Rebecca dresses Jacob in the clothes of his older brother Esau to secure the blessing of Isaac.


God the Father asks the angel Gabriel to request Mary to be the Mother of God the Son. Mary's seed are the multitudes "which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." Mary clothes Jesus in human flesh and offers Him to the Father to secure His blessing on the human race.


Jacob is entranced by Rachel's beauty. Rachel is the mother of Joseph who was sold for 20 pieces of silver. Joseph comes to power in Egypt and is the savior of his family.


Mary has "found favor with God". Her Son Jesus is sold for thirty pieces of silver. By His death He becomes the savior of the human race.


Miriam the sister of Moses, the liberator of the People of God, and the sister of Aaron, the first priest of the Old Covenant.

Miriam is present with Moses and Aaron at the "Tent of Meeting" in which the Lord descended and spoke to them.


Just as Miriam was associated with the lawgiver of the People of God, Mary is associated with the Supreme Lawgiver Who Moses pre-figured. Similarly Mary is associated with the High Priest of the New Covenant who again is pre-figured by Aaron.


Deborah saves her people from the Canaanites by helping Barak victoriously lead a small army against the much larger army of Sisera. Deborah is a prophetess and renowned for her mercy. Judges 5 is a song of praise from Deborah to the Almighty thanking Him for the victory over Sisera.


Mary assists Christ in His redemptive mission�a mission He performs against all odds. Mary is the Queen of Prophets and Merciful Mother. Deborah's song is a foreshadowing of the Magnificat.


Ruth, a Moabite, is the wife of Boaz and the mother of Obed the grandfather of David. She leaves her people behind and declares herself the servant of Boaz.


Mary will bear a Son in the line of David. She offers herself as a handmaiden of the Lord.


Abigail means "exaltation of the Father." Because of her great virtue David marries her and makes her queen of the house of David. In I Samuel 25:41, she tells David, "Behold your servant Mary."  Mary's exaltation of the Father is seen especially in the Magnificat. Because she has won favor with Him, God the Father makes her the Spouse of the Holy Spirit and the Mother of the Son. At the Annunciation, Luke 1:38, she says, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord."


Esther is chosen to be queen by King Ahasuerus for her beauty. All of Esther's people have been condemned to death through the schemes of an enemy. She alone is excepted from this condemnation. Esther manages to foil the schemes of the enemy and saves her people from death.


Alone of her race, Mary was not subject to Original Sin, the condemnation to spiritual death. She assists her Son in His mission of defeating the enemy and rescuing her people from the decree of damnation. She continues to intercede for her people as they continue in their journey from death.

About the influence of the Old Testament pre-figurings on the New Testament, Marie Isaacs, a Baptist, writes:

Luke portrays Mary as the supreme example of the faithful of Israel, of whom the Messiah was to be born. He does this, not only the way he structures the narrative, but also in the language he employs: language which is full of OT allusions and symbols. To miss these is to fail to appreciate the claims that Luke is making. Already we have seen that Mary is one of the anawim. Now we must explore the other biblical allusions.

To read Lk 1-2, even superficially, is immediately to call to mind stories in the OT of women who gave birth to remarkable offspring: Sarah, old and childless and yet who was blessed with the birth of Isaac; the mother of Samson (the last and greatest of the Judges), who like Elisabeth, had previously been barren, but to whom an angel was to announce that she would have a son. The similarities between these and the lucan Infancy Narratives are obvious: all describe miraculous conceptions, announced by angelic messengers and issuing in the birth of a great hero. John the Baptist, like Samson, is to take a Nazarite vow. But it is probably to the story of the birth of Samuel that Luke is most indebted. In many ways Mary, 'the handmaid of the Lord' is patterned on Hannah, 'the handmaid, who, of all OT mothers, is the archetypal figure of maternal devotion and religious piety, dedicating her son entirely to the service of Yahweh in the temple, and there rejoicing over her son's birth with a paean of praise. Much of the thought and even the language of Hannah's song is taken up by Mary, the new Hannah, in the Magnificat. So now Mary becomes, not merely the symbol of the faithful of Israel in general, but the symbol of the faithful mother in particular. (11).

Mary's role at the side of her royal Son is prefigured in the Old Testament depictions of the Queen Mother. The title of Queen Mother or Gebirah was very common in Old Testament times and was a position independent of the King. The Queen Mother had a very influential role in national affairs and acted as regent when the king was absent or dead. Since the importance of the Queen Mother was recognized by the ancient Hebrews, the first Christians saw no conflict in honoring the Mother of their King.

Rene Laurentin dwells further on this theme:

Queen mothers had an important position in eastern courts and especially in Israel. Their names have been preserved with care in the Books of Kings (1 Kgs 14:21; 15:2; 22:42; cf. 53. 2 Kgs 9:6; 12;2: 14:2; 15:2,33; 18:2; 22:1; 23:31,36; 24:18). They bore the title gebirah and were found closely associated in the honor and position of the monarch (Jer 13:18; 22:6). It is important to note that it was not the position of the wife of the kind that counted, but that of the king's mother. Very significant in this regard is the comparison between 1 Kings 1:16,31 and 2:19, where Bethsheba prostrates herself before King David, her husband, whereas Solomon, her son, after he has become king, prostrates himself before her and makes her sit at his right hand.

The prophetic texts studied above therefore glimpse Mary essentially as the queen mother of the eschatological king, involved as such in the honor paid his reign. Thus the Old Testament brings the positive contribution of a source to the doctrine of Mary's Queenship. ... Genesis 3:15, Isaiah 7:14 and Micah 5:1-2 all in varying degrees bring into striking relief a "maiden," a "queen," "one who was to give birth" in eschatological times to this "son of David" who mysteriously would be Son of God (2 Sam 7:14; Ps. 2 and 110). (12)

Mark Miravalle goes further on the implications of the Queen Mother theme:

We can see an authentic foreshadowing of the role of the Mother of Jesus as Advocate for the People of God in the Old Testament role of the Queen Mother, the role and office held by the mothers of the great Davidic kings of Israel ...

The office and authority of the queen mother in her close relationship to the king made her the strongest advocate to the king for the people of the kingdom. The Old Testament understanding of an advocate is a person who is called in to intercede for another in need and particularly at court, and no one had more intercessory power to the king than the queen mother, who at times sat enthroned at the right side of the king (cf. 1 Kings 2:19-20). The queen mother also had the function of counselor to the king in regards to matters of the kingdom (cf. Prov 31:8-9; 2 Chr 22:2-4).

The recognized role of advocate of the queen mother with the king for members of the kingdom is manifested in the immediate response of King Solomon to his mother, Bathsheba, in this queen mother's petition for a member of the kingdom:

"And the king rose to meet her, and bowed down to her; then he sat on his throne, and had a seat brought for the king's mother; and she sat on his right. Then she said, 'I have one small request to make of you; do not refuse me.' And the king said to her, 'Make your request, my mother; for I will not refuse you.' (1 Kings 2: 19-20).

The Old Testament image and role of the queen mother, the "great Lady," as advocate to the king for the people of the kingdom prophetically foreshadows the role of the great Queen Mother and Lady of the New Testament. For it is Mary of Nazareth who becomes the Queen and Mother in the Kingdom of God, as the Mother of Christ, King of all nations. The Woman at the foot of the Cross (cf. Jn 19:26) becomes the Great Lady (Domina) with the Lord and King, and thereby will be the Advocate and Queen for the People of God from heaven, where she is the "woman clothed with the sun ... and on her head a crown of twelve stars" (Rev 12:1). (13).

It has also often been said that Abraham pre-figured Mary for reasons explained here by the exegete John McHugh: God made three promises to Abraham that his children would be a great nation (Gen 12:2; 13f,6; 15:5; 17:6, 19; 22:17); that his descendants would possess the land of Canaan (Gen 12:7; 13:15; 15:18-21; 17:8); and that in him all the nations of world would count themselves blessed (Gen 12:3; 22:18). In Mary's child, the last of the three promises was fulfilled, and it is not surprising that Luke draws out many parallels between Mary and Abraham. Like Abraham (Gen 18:3), Mary found favour with God (Lk 1:30); like Abraham (Gen 12:3; 18:18; 22:18), she is a source of blessing for, and is blessed by, all nations (Lk 1: 42,48); like Abraham (Gen 15:6), she is praised for her faith in the promise that, by a miracle, she would have a son (Lk 1:45). (14).

Another striking parallel has been drawn between Mary and Old Testament mediators like Moses in recent exegesis as Ignace de la Potterie shows here:

"His mother said to the servants: 'Do whatever he tells you.'" In passing let us note that these are the final words of Mary in the Gospels ...

A. Serra having examined in depth the use of this expression in the Old Testament proposes another exegesis, which to us seems more solid and which at the same time is very attractive. He puts forth evidence that here we are dealing with an expression that is almost a technical one, which appears several times in the Old Testament in connection with the Covenant when Israel, in response to the promises which have been made to her, pledges obedience to God. It is utilized as well on the occasion of the conclusion of the Covenant at Sinai (Ex 19:8; 24:3-7; Dt 5:27), as well as its renewal later (cf. Jos 24:24; Ex 10:12: Ne 5:12). We find it for the first time in Exodus 19:8. Situated in its context it is the following: "In the third month of their departure from the land of Egypt ... the Israelites came to the desert of Sinai ... Moses then went up the mountain to God. Yahweh called to him and said: 'Here is how you shall address the house of Jacob ... If you obey me and respect my Covenant, you shall be my special possession, dearer to me than all other people, though all the earth is mine ... That is what you must tell the Israelites.' Moses then went, convoked all the elders of the people and related to them all that Yahweh had ordered him to tell them. Then the entire people, with one accord responded: 'All that Yahweh has said, we will do.' And Moses brought back to Yahweh the response of the people." (Ex 19:1-8). In this text and the others that we pointed out, even though they appear with several variants, there are always two constants: the word of the mediator and the response of the people.

Serra correctly noticed that the expression of the Covenant ("All that Yahweh has said, we will do"), closely parallels the words of Mary to the servants at Cana: "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2:5). From this one can conclude that Mary�in her very last words�uses the formula of the Covenant; she personifies in a certain manner the people of Israel in the context of the Covenant. For, as A. Serra continues, "John puts on the lips of Mary the profession of faith that the whole community of the chosen people pronounced one day in front of Sinai." Mary therefore asks of the "servants" to adopt vis-a-vis Jesus an attitude, which is in reality the attitude of the Covenant, that is an attitude of perfect submission to the will of God, expressed here in the command given by Jesus." (15).

The significance of the angel Gabriel's appearance is pre-figured in the Book of Daniel and the angels announcements to Zechariah closely parallel his announcements to Daniel:

The mere mention of the name Gabriel in Lk 1:19, 26 would be sufficient to alert a reader familiar with the Jewish Scriptures, for Gabriel's name occurs only twice in the Old Testament, in the second half of Daniel (Dan 8:16; 9:21): on both occasions his mission is to explain the import of a prophecy about the deliverance of Israel and the dawn of a new age. The close verbal similarities between Lk 1:1 and these chapters of Daniel leave no doubt that Luke is here consciously alluding to the Book of Daniel. (16)

Similarly the proclamations of the angel to Gideon in Judges 6:11-24 closely parallel the angel Gabriel's proclamations to Mary in Luke 1:26-38.

Again, the proclamations of the prophet Nathan to David parallel Gabriel's announcement to Mary:

2 Samuel 7:12: "I will preserve the offspring of your body after you, and make his sovereignty secure. I will be a father to him and he a son to me."
Luke 1:32-3: "He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High."
2 Samuel 7:16b: "Your throne will be established forever:"
Luke 1:32-33: "The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David."
2 Samuel 7:16a: "Your house and your sovereignty will always stand secure before me."
Luke 1:32-33: "He will rule forever over the house of Jacob."
2 Samuel 7:13: "I will make his royal throne secure forever."
Luke 1:33: "And his reign will have no end."

Daughter of Zion

Perhaps the most striking and obvious Marian image in Scripture is that of the Daughter of Zion. The Daughter of Zion representation of Mary is evident in the parallelism between a great number of texts in the Old and the New Testaments. In the Old Testament Zion is shown as Spouse and Daughter, Virgin and Mother as is Mary in the New. Daughter Zion is the Spouse of Yahweh, Mother of the People of God (Mother Zion), the Virgin Israel. Many of the Old Testament texts describing the Daughter of Zion are amazingly enough applied to Mary, for instance in Luke 1:26-38, John 2:1-12, John 19:25-27. "Here," writes de la Potterie, "the Old Testament texts of the 'Daughter of Zion' are applied to a definite woman. ... This is precisely the reason why, in the Fourth Gospel, both at Cana and at the Cross, Jesus addresses Mary calling her 'Woman.", (17). "The definite woman Mary," he continues, "the Mother of Jesus, is in a certain way the historical realization of this symbolic figure, who is called in the prophets�depending on the context�the 'Daughter of Zion,' the 'Mother-Zion" or the 'Virgin Israel.' All of Israel's expectation of salvation was projected upon this symbolic figure of the "Messianic Daughter of Zion"; this symbolic figure, described by the prophets, is concretized at once in a daughter of Israel, Mary, who thus becomes the personification of the messianic people in eschatological times." (18). A truly biblical interpretation of Mary will see her as representing both the people of Israel and the future Church.

The comparison of Zephaniah 3:17-17 and Luke 1:28-33 is especially striking:

"Rejoice, Daugher of Zion, the King of Israel, Yahweh, is IN you. Do not be afraid Zion, Yahweh your God is in your womb as a strong Savior." [Zephaniah 3:14-17] "Rejoice so highly favored. The Lord is WITH you. Do not be afraid, Mary ... Listen, you are to conceive in your womb and bear a son and you must name him "Yahweh Savior." He will reign [Luke 1:28-33]. (19).

Applying the Daughter of Zion symbolism, de la Potterie notes,

More and more frequently today's exegetes translate the first word of the angel to Mary, 'Chaire', by 'Rejoice!' ... It is interesting to verify that in the Septuagint the formula 'Chaire' always appears in a context where Zion is invited to the messianic joy in the perspective of the future (Joel 2:21-23; Zp 3:14; Zc 9:9; cf. Lm. 4:21). In the announcement to Mary, the angel utilizes the formula which the prophets employ to invite the eschatological Zion to rejoice in the salvation which God accords her. Thus we read in the prophet Zephaniah 3:14-15: 'Shout for joy, daughter of Zion!' ... In the tradition of the Greek Fathers of the Church and in the Byzantine liturgy, the words of the angel have been almost universally understood and explained as an invitation to joy.

It is clear that from the very first words of the angel there is already an echo of the theme of the 'Daughter of Zion.' The joy which was announced by the prophets in the Old Testament to the people of Israel�the Woman Zion�diffuses itself and comes to be focused on one particular woman, Mary, who unites in her person, so to speak, the desires and the hopes of all the people of Israel. The Fathers of the Church also understood it in this way." (20).

Writes Rene Laurentin:

The first word of the angel, chaire, does not correspond to the ordinary Hebrew greeting of peace, shalom, the equivalent of our "Good day!" or "Hello!" It is rather the echo of the greetings of messianic joy addressed by the prophets to the Daughter of Zion in Zech. 9:9, Joel 2:21-27, and especially Zeph. 3:14-17. Once this motif of eschatological joy has been proclaimed, it is the Lord who is to come into the midst of Israel, or translating in its etymological sense the expression bequirbek employed here, "in the womb" of Israel. The message of the angel echoes that of Zephaniah but this time with respect to an immediate realization.

... This first revelation of the Incarnation ... is something accomplished ... simply by the virtual application of the Old Testament scriptures to the new event. Illuminated by Scripture, the event discloses its divine dimensions; actualized by the event, Scripture attains a marvelous and unforeseen fulfillment ...

The joy announced by the angel is messianic joy, the eschatological joy expressed by Zephanaiah. Mary who receives the angel's message, is the "Daughter of Zion": she stands for Israel at this decisive hour. The presence of the Lord in Israells midst, this new and mysterious presence announced for the last days, becomes a conception and a childbearing for her. Finally Zephanaiah designates teh one whom she is to bear under the name "Yahweh Savior". According to the Hebrew, this is the very meaning of the name "Jesus," designated by the angel, and this name thereby takes on the fullness of its etymological meaning. (21)

John McHugh notes that the passages in Joel and Zechariah are modelled on the Zephaniah passage which is the most ancient of the three. He describes Zephaniah 3:14-17 as "two short poems in which the prophet envisages the day of salvation as already begun, and calls upon the Daughter of Zion to rejoice with all her heart, not to fear, because the Lord is with her, as her king and saviour. This is exactly the message of the angel in Lk 1:28-33 ... The texts of Joel and of Zechariah carry the same message in almost the same phrases." In his commentary on the Magnificat, McHugh points out that when Mary "speaks of what God has done for her, she speaks of what God has done for Israel: that is, she speaks of herself as the Daughter of Zion." (22)

Respected Protestant scholars such as A.G. Herbert ("The Virgin Mary as the Daughter of Zion"), A. F. Knight ("The Virgin and the Old Testament") and the Swedish Lutheran Harald Sahlin ("Der Messias und das Gotteovolk") have also acknowledged Mary's identification with the Daughter of Zion.

Ark of the Covenant

In speaking of Mary as the bridge between the Old an the New, we are inevitably led to the theme of Mary as the Ark of the Covenant. From Luke's initial characterization of Mary as the Daughter of Zion we are led to his grand vision of Mary as the Ark of the Covenant, a vision that is continued in both the Gospel of John and the book of Revelation. As noted earlier, Luke's way of introducing Old Testament themes or prophecies is through allusions rather than direct assertions of "prophetic fulfillment." In introducing Mary as the Ark, he draws on Old Testament texts that any Jewish reader would understand and identify with the Ark.

Rene Laurentin draws attention to the similitude between Exodus 40:34,35 and Luke 1:35:

"The divine overshadowing, designated by the characteristic word episkiasei, evoked the cloud which was the sign of Yahweh's presence. This cloud was seen for the first time when the Mosaic worship was established. With its shadow it covered the Ark of the Covenant, while the glory of God�that is, God himself�filled it from within. In her turn Mary is going to be the object of this double manifestation:

a presence from above that signifies transcendence, and a presence of the Lord from within. That is what is implied in the comparison of the two texts:

Exodus 40:34: "The cloud covered the Tent of meeting and the glory of Yahweh filled the tabernacle." Luke 1:35: "The power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God."

The same idea seems to be taken up in the episode of the visitation, a story told in reference to the account of the transfer of the Ark in 2 Sam. 6:1, 14 ... The episode of the Visitation is drawn up in close parallelism with 2 Sam 6:14, the story of the transportation of the Ark of the Covenant, narrated just before the messianic prophecy (7:1-17) to which Luke 1:32-3 alludes. The events, the atmosphere, the terms used to describe them correspond closely: the ascent of the Ark (2 Samuel 6:5) and the ascent of Mary (Luke 1:39), the joyous outcry of the people and Elizabeth's cry of greeting; the exultation of David and of John the Baptist. At times the expressions are in striking correspondence with each other:

2 Samuel 6:9: "However can the Ark of Yahweh (- My Lord) come to me?"
Luke 1:43: "Why should I be honored with a visit from the mother of My Lord?"
2 Samuel 6:11: "The Ark of Yahweh remained for three months in the house.."
Luke 1:56: "Mary remained about three months in the home of Elizabeth."

In short, in the marvelously artful account of the Visitation the image of the Ark of the Covenant is worked into the person of Mary, and here and there in a typological approach it is possible to see that the "Lord" whose mother she is is no other than than the "Lord" who resided in the Ark.

The theme is taken up a final time at the end of the infancy gospel. As Jesus enters the Temple Simeon greets him as 'the glory of Israel, (Luke 2:32). This is a divine title. The glory of Yahweh that had deserted the Temple once it was bereft of the Ark of the Covenant now reenters the Temple as Mary comes there carrying Jesus. Thus it is that Simeon can die happy (Luke 2:26, 29); he now can "see death" since he has "seen the glory of the Lord." The time has been fulfilled. Here Mary, eschatalogical Daughter of Zion and new Ark of the Covenant, accomplishes her mission in a way in bringing to the Temple the one whose place it properly is. This is what Jesus himself will affirm in the very last episode of the infancy gospel, that of his being found in the Temple: 'I must be in my Father's house.' [Luke 2:49]. (23).

Manelli points out the following parallels between the Visitation and the transportation of the Ark of the Covenant from the house of Abinadab to that of Obededom and to Jerusalem (2 Sam 6:1-15):

The two "journeys" take place in Judea; the shouts of jubilation of the people and of Elizabeth; David and John' the Baptist "exult for joy"; the presence of the Ark and that of Mary are blessing for the house; the Ark and Mary remain in the house for three months. (24)

About the Ark symbolism, John McHugh writes:

[Luke 1] Verse 35 asserts that this creative, life-giving Power of the Most High will overshadow Mary. Luke's choice of the word 'overshadow, is of first importance. Several recent writers, Lutheran, Anglican and Roman Catholic, have stressed the significance of this verb in this context: they see in it an indication that the Divine Presence descended on Mary as it had once descended on the Ark of the Covenant. At the very end of the Book of Exodus, when the Tent has at last been completed, the writer adds: 'Then the Cloud enveloped the Tent of Witness, and the Tent was filled with the Glory of the Lord. And Moses could not enter the Tent of Witness, because the Cloud was overshadowing it, and the Tent had been filled with the Glory of the Lord' (Ex 40:34-5). In the Greek Old Testament, words meaning 'to overshadow, are comparatively rare, and they are nearly always found in passages which speak of the presence of God ... In Is 4:2-6 the prophet ... promises that on the Day of Yahweh, the Divine Presence will once again overshadow the purified Daughter of Zion with its glory.

St. Luke, when he wrote the word 'overshadow" must have known what,associations it would evoke in the Jewish mind. No Jew, reading the words 'A Power of the Most High will overshadow thee', could fail to think of the Divine Presence or Shekinah. The meaning of Lk 1:35, therefore, is that the creative Power of God's Holy Spirit is going to descend upon Mary, as the Glory of the Lord had once descended upon the Tent of Witness and filled it with a Divine Presence. (25).

A number of exegetes have commented on the parallels between the Infancy narrative in Luke and the Prologue of the Gospel of John. There is reason to believe that John refers both to the Virgin Birth and to the Ark symbolism:

John 1:13: "Not born of blood or of the desire of the flesh or of the desire of God."
Luke 1:34: "I do not know man."
John 1:13: "But of God."
Luke 1:35: "The power of the Most High will cover you
John 1:14: "And the Word was made flesh and pitched his tent among us."
Luke 1:35-46 and 2 Samuel 6 on the theme of the Ark of the Covenant.

In this passage from John there is an allusion to "the tent or tabernacle where God resided since the making of the Covenant (Exodus 40:34-35; cf. 25:8; 26, etc.)." (26)

This symbolism and its relationship to Mary continues in the Book of Revelation. John explicitly brings out this nuance in Revelation 21:3 'Behold the tent of God with men; he will tent with them.' It will be noted that in this text (and apparently in Revelation 11:19 and 12:1, two closely linked verses) the 'tent' is also a 'woman': 'I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, as beautiful as a bride all dressed for her husband, and then I heard a loud voice call out from the throne, 'Behold the tent of God with men ... 1 (21:2-3). 'Then the sanctuary of God in heaven opened, and the Ark of the Covenant could be seen inside it ... Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman, adorned with the sun ... She was pregnant.' (11:19-12:1). When the book of Revelation was written there were no chapter divisions and so there should be a continuous flow from 11:19 to 12:1: the revelation of the Ark of the Covenant in God's temple in Heaven is followed immediately by the vision of the woman clothed by the sun because the Ark is identified with her who is none other than Mary.

The identification of the Ark of the Covenant with Mary, so clear to Jewish readers of Luke and John, was grasped by the early Christian community as confirmed by references in ancient liturgies, litanies, hymns such as the Akathistos and the writings of the Fathers (for instance Athanasius). Thus the affirmation of Mary as the Ark of the Covenant directly derived from Scripture became a part of the Apostolic Faith. The Ark lies at the center 'of the Old Covenant and its continuation into the New Covenant in the person of Mary is an invitation to awe-filled meditation on the Marian role in the mystery of salvation.


3. Luke 1-2: A Compendium Of Marian Doctrine

In its dramatic overview of the salvation mysteries of the New Covenant, Luke 1-2 also gives us a magnificent affirmation and summation of the major Marian doctrines. So significant is Luke 1-2 for an understanding of the Scriptural portrait of Mary that the great French exegete Rene Laurentin produced a monumental study on it called The Structure and Theology of Luke 1-2.

Although none of the Gospels are written as textbooks of theology or doctrine, the sacred texts often assume or implicitly support certain doctrinal formulations. In this regard Luke 1-2 is a masterpiece spanning the entire spectrum of Marian doctrine.

We will briefly survey the verses relevant to specific doctrines without going into any detail. The basis of these doctrines will be presented in a later chapter.


Immaculate Conception Of Mary:

"Rejoice so highly favored" "Hail full of grace". Luke 1:28. Both translations are derived from the Greek word kecharitomene which refers to a person transformed by the grace of God. This verse is considered in more detail below.


Mary's Divine Maternity:

"And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" Luke 1:43 "Lord" is used here in the same sense as "Yahweh" which refers to God in the Old Testament. Mary is the mother of God.


Mary's Perpetual Virginity:

"How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" Luke 1:34 The significance of this as a vow of virginity will be examined below.


Mary's Assumption Into Heaven:

"The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee.11 Luke 1:35

This is the first of the verses that depict Mary as the Ark of the Covenant. In Revelation 11 and 12, the Ark is shown in Heaven and is identified with the woman clothed with the sun who is Mary.

"All generations shall call me blessed." Luke 1:48.

This verse can be seen as a pre-figuring of Mary's assumption. The Protestant scholar Donald Dawe notes that "The Magnificat foretells the time when all generations, will call her 'blessed' (Greek: makaria [1, 48b]). The Greek word translated 'blessed' here is more than a polite honorific term. The blessed, are those who stand in a special relationship to God. In the early patristic literature, it was used as a characterization of the martyrs. The highest expression of this 'blessedness' was in the possibility of their ascension in to heaven to dwell in the immediate presence of God." This passage is crucial for the doctrine of the Assumption because of "the future tense of the verb in verse 1:48: All generations will call me blessed'." In this verse we can see that "Mary was related not only to her role in the Incarnation but also to the final consummation of salvation in the kingdom." This consummation, in Mary's case, would be her assumption into heaven.

(Donald G. Dawe, "The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin in Ecumenical Perspective." The Way, Summer 1982, p.45.]


Mary Coredemptrix:

"A sword shall pierce through thy own soul also." Luke 2:35. This prophecy comes to fulfillment at Calvary where Mary participates in the suffering of her Son. This is explained further below.

The Veneration Of Mary:

"Rejoice so highly favored" / "Hail full of grace". Luke 1:28.
"Blessed art thou amongst women." Luke 1:42.
"And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" Luke 1:43
"All generations shall call me blessed." Luke 1:48.

(b) Hail Full of Grace / Rejoice Highly Favored One

The angel Gabriel's greeting to Mary is of great consequence for our understanding of Mary and Marian doctrine. The greeting has been variously translated as "Rejoice highly favored" and "Hail full of grace." The object of the varied translations is the Greek word kecharitomene which refers to one who has been transformed by God's grace. The word is used only other time in the New Testament and that is in the epistle to the Ephesians where Paul is addressing those who by becoming Christians are transformed by grace and receive the remission of sins. It is clearly significant that Mary is considered to already have been transformed by grace before the birth of Christ. Four Scripture scholars are cited below on the meaning and significance of this greeting.

First we refer to Rene Laurentin:

The exaltation of Mary by God's gratuitous choice is one of the salient themes of the first chapter of Luke's Gospel. The angel Gabriel greets her with the name kecharitomene (1:28). The word defies translation in most languages. Recourse must be had to a circumlocution such as one who has won God's favor,' or object of God's favor.' The word is a perfect participle and in Greek the perfect tense indicates permanence or stability. A favor that is stable and definitive is therefore implied. Furthermore, this name is given her from on high; it is Mary's true name in the eyes of God, her name of grace. Indeed, the name kecharitomene is formed from the word charis, meaning 'grace,' as its root. Mary is the object of favor, in a pre-eminent way. She is the-one-who-has-found-grace, (charin), in the words of the Angel Gabriel in Luke 1:30. (27).

Stefano Manelli continues this pattern of thought:

The angel Gabriel calls Mary with an expression identifying her and unveiling her hiddenmost being: she is the Full of Grace. In Greek, the expression is a past participle (kechaz-itomene), not easily translatable. Other proposed translations are these: "highest in grace", "most beloved", "privileged", and "gratified". The Vulgate translation full of grace is certainly a good one, but does not fully express all of the nuances of the Greek. The fullness of grace here meant is, obviously, a fullness above all spiritual, but not excluding that which is physical.

The exceptional character of the angel's greeting to Mary consists not so much in the single phrases, also found elsewhere in the Old Testament, as in the linking of the two expressions. "Rejoice" and "full of grace", as a form of address. No similar instance of this in relation to any other creature can be verified in the Old or New Testament.

Hence, Origen could write* "Because the angel greeted Mary with new expressions, which I have never encountered elsewhere in the Scriptures, it is necessary to comment on this. I do not, in fact, recall having read in any other place in the Sacred Scriptures these words: Rejoice, O Full of Grace. neither of these expressions is ever addressed to a man: such a special greeting was reserved only for Mary."

St. Luke, moreover, also makes it clear, even if not expressly, that Mary had had the fullness of grace" from the first moment of her conception. In fact, the use of the past perfect participle (kecharitomene) is to indicate something already true of the subject in the past, and hence possibly extending even to the very first moment of her existence. Here can be recognized one of the implicit foundations for the truth of the Immaculate Conception, which excludes from the very beginning of her existence any presence of sin, and which alone with perfect exactitude is "fullness of grace". (28)

Ignace de la Potterie continues the exploration on a more technical level:

The dominant translation which ancient Christianity has given is very clear: the Byzantine tradition in the East and the medieval tradition in the West have seen in "kecharitomene," the indication of Mary's perfect holiness...

The verb utilized here by Luke (charitoun) is extremely rare in Greek. It is present only two times in the New Testament: in the text of Luke on the Annunciation (Luke 1:28). "kecharitomene," and in the Epistle to the Ephesians (Ephesians 1:6), "echaritosen." ... These verbs, then, effect a change of something in the person or the thing affected. Thus, the radical of the verb 'charitoo' being 'charis' (= grace), the idea which is expressed is that of a change brought about by grace. In addition the verb used by Luke is in the past participial form. "Kecharitomene" signifies then, in the person to whom the verb relates, that is, Mary, that the action of the grace of God has already brought about a change. It does not tell us how that came about. What is essential here is that it affirms that Mary has been transformed by the grace of God ...

The perfect passive participle is used by Luke to indicate that the transformation by grace has already taken place in Mary, well before the moment of the Annunciation.

In what then would this transformation of grace consist? According to the parallel text of the Letter to the Ephesians 1:6 the Christians have been 'transformed by grace' in the sense that 'according to the richness of His grace, they find redemption by his blood, the remission of sins.' (Ephesians 1:7). This grace, in reality, takes away sin. This is elucidating for our particular case. Mary is 'transformed by grace', because she has been sanctified by the grace of God. It is there, moreover, in the Church's tradition that we have the most customary translation. Sophronius of Jerusalem, for example, interprets the term ,full of grace, in this manner: 'No one has been fully sanctified as you ... ; no one has been purified in advance as you.' In addition, he takes from the total context that Mary had been 'transformed by the grace' of God in view of the task which she awaits, that of becoming the Mother of the Son of God, and to do so while remaining a virgin.

There we have the double announcement of the angel: as mother she brings to the world the Son of the Most High (v.33), but that will take place by the 'power of the Most High' (v.35), that is virginally. God had prepared Mary for this by inspiring in her the desire for virginity. This desire of Mary was then for her a result of her transformation by grace.

It is true that we do not find in the text of Luke evidence that Mary is "full of grace" from the first moment of her existence. But what in reality does the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception say? Grace has preserved Mary of all sin and of all consequences of sin (concupiscence). This is also the biblical understanding of the concept of "grace." Grace takes away sin (Ephesians 1:6-7). If it is true that Mary was entirely transformed by the grace of God, that then means that God has preserved her from sin, "purified" her, and sanctified her....

As one can notice in the schema of the structured text the theme of "being full of grace" is continued in the first proclamation, "You have found grace with God"; then follows the substance of the announcement: Mary will become the mother of the Messiah. It is apparent that Mary was "full of grace" by God in view of this maternity, and even that she was prepared, by the grace of her virginity, for her own mission, that of being the virginal mother of the Savior. (29).

Finally William Most makes an important clarification:

St. Luke used the Greek word kecharitomene, a perfect passive participle, which is a very strong form. Further, the basic verb is 'charitoo'. Verbs ending in omicron omega form a class which in general means to put a person or thing into the state indicated by the root of the verb, e.g. 'leukos' means white, leukoo means to make white. The meaning of the root of charitoo is favor or grace. Hence the verb means to put her into favor or grace. But we need to be careful. If by favor we have in mind only that God as it were sat and smiled at her, but gave her nothing, we would have the Pelagian heresy. Thus we might as well use the word grace at the start to indicate a gift He gave. Still further, the Gospel uses kecharitomene in place of her personal name, Mary. That is a usage comparable to our English pattern in which we might say of someone that he is "Mr. Tennis," meaning the ultimate in the category of tennis. So then she would be Miss Grace, the ultimate in the category of grace. (30).

The Exaltation of Mary in Luke 1-2

Gabriel's greeting indicates to us that Mary is highly exalted. This theme of exaltation is continued in the rest of Luke 1 to the point that Laurentin is led to remark that "No other biblical personage has been given such strong praise":

This initial greeting of praise is prolonged throughout the accounts of the annunciation and the visitation. The Lord is with her (1:28), the Holy Spirit comes down upon her (1:35), great things are accomplished in her (1:49) thanks to her faith (1:45), and that is why, (as she herself recognizes) 'all generations will call [her] blessed' (1:48). No other biblical personage has been given such strong praise, and without anything said to the contrary.

Were it not the inspired text, one would be tempted almost to wonder whether the Christocentrism of the gospels were here in default. In Luke 1:35 the angel tells Mary, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow.' In the light of Isaiah 11:2 would it not have been more normal to say that the Holy Spirit was coming on the Emmanuel rather than on his Mother? In Luke 1:42 Elizabeth proclaims Mary's blessing before that of her Son and adds, 'Why should I be honoured with a visit from the Mother of my Lord?' even though the honour that falls to her is actually the visit of the Lord rather than of the Mother. She adds, 'For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy,' even though in reality the benefit of the visitation is to be attributed to the action of Mary's child rather than to Mary's voice. That Mary should thus be placed in the forefront is most astonishing and gives food for reflection to those who fear that they do Christ some offense in exalting his Mother." (31).

The veneration of Mary indicated in these passages of Scripture provided a sound basis for Marian devotion for the Christian community from the beginning. John McHugh says in addition:

There is nothing improbable in the suggestion that the early Christians sang hymns of praise in honour of Mary. We know that St. John's disciples in particular searched' (darash) the Scriptures (Jn 2:22; 5:39; 7:38,42; 10:35; 13:18; 17:12; 19:24, 28, 36,37; 20:9) to discover hidden references to Jesus in the Old Testament; indeed, many authors think that the Fourth Gospel and the Apocalypse look upon Mary as filling the role assigned to the woman mentioned in Genesis 3:15. That her special rank was acknowledged by the Church is implied by the text of the Magnificat, where Luke says that 'from this present time, (1:48b) all generations will call her blessed. Could Luke have written that phrase if, at the time when he was writing (A.D. 70-80), his own generation had not begun to call her blessed? The text of Lk 1:42 would seem conclusive proof that the early Church expressed its reverence for the mother Of its Lord by singing hymns in her honour. (32).

(d) "I know not man": A vow of virginity

Luke 1:34 "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" has traditionally been considered a reference by Mary to a vow of life-long virginity. Laurentin notes that here we must "recognize the present tense 'I do not know' as having to do with a condition rather than an instant of time. To give an example, if someone to whom a cigarette is offered replies, 'I don't smoke,' he is understood to mean 'I never smoke' and not 'I am not smoking right now.'" (33)

Manelli's comments on this verse are instructive:

Confronted by this [the angel Gabriel's] wondrous announcement, however, the Virgin finds herself embarrassed; not because of the sublime greatness of the majesty announced to her, but rather for the way in which such a maternity might be realized. The embarasoment would seem inexplicable because, on any reasonable grounds, she is precisely a woman in ideal conditions to conceive a son. She is the young spouse of Joseph. What young spouse would not be inclined to desire a beautiful son? It is obvious, therefore, and must be acknowledged that Mary's difficulty stems from a precise commitment�vow or promise�"not to know man", that is, to be and remain a virgin. St. Augustine rightly says, that "Mary certainly would not have spoken those words if she had not vowed her virginity to God." In fact, only by admitting Mary's virginal consecration to God, can it be understood why she found herself facing an unsolvable dilemma: How to reconcile her virginal offering to God with the request of maternity on the part of God? How could she become a mother without betraying a promise of virginal consecration to God.

Some scholars find such a dilemma implausible, because a proposal entailing virginal life in those days seems inconceivable. But Laurentin convincingly refutes this and affirms that in any case "Mary was so spiritually endowed as to be in the vanguary undertaking such an engagement."

As for any point concerning the vow or proposal of virginity on Mary's part, we must consider convincing and definitive the wide-ranging and detailed study of G. Graystone. His solid, final conclusion is this: "After much reflection we believe that the traditional, interpretation [that is, on the subject of Mary's virginity], as we have argued it above, offers the only reasonable and satisfying explanation of Mary's words." (34).

The question of Mary's perpetual virginity will be discussed elsewhere but here it is only important to recognize that this verse is relevant to the discussion. The conclusive evidence in favor of interpreting this saying of Mary as an indication of a vow of virginity is the fact that it was accepted by almost all of Christendom as it was by Fathers of the Church ranging from Ambrose and Augustine in the West to Gregory of Nyasa in the East in the 4th century.

Scripture's Seven-Splendored Story Of Mary

It is a hard fact of history that Marian doctrine and devotion have been an indivisible part of Christian belief�both in the East and the West�for 20 centuries. Any criticism of Marian doctrine or devotion must overcome this "hard fact." If Christians have been consistently wrong for 20 centuries on their interpretation of Scripture and the Gospel message then there is no guarantee that they will be right on anything. If the Holy Spirit has not been leading them for all these centuries, there is no reason to believe that the Holy Spirit guides anybody. This must be considered by any critic of Marian doctrine before he sharpens his knives.

The primary sources of Marian doctrine and devotion are the following: the earliest Tradition of the Church which in the first four centuries served as the main framework of instruction for believers prior to the fixing of the canon of Scripture;

Sacred Scripture; the inner dynamic of Christianity as this emerged through the authoritative interpretation of Scripture by the Councils and creeds; the liturgy which reflected the Apostolic Faith; the reflections of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church; the testimony of the Saints and Martyrs; the consensus of the faithful. United with all of this also was the living experience of Mary enjoyed by millions.

In understanding the Mary of the historic Christian Faith we will start with a study of the Mary of Scripture who is also the Mary of doctrine and devotion. Scripture's story of Mary is a story of seven splendors:

The Salvific Splendor�God's Promise of a Second Eve Whose Seed will Crush Satan

"And the Lord God said unto the serpent, ... I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shall bruise his heel." [Genesis 3:14,15]

[Christians have historically believed that the "woman" referred to in this prophecy of salvation is Mary and her "seed" of course is Jesus. In his last sermon in Wittenberg, Martin Luther echoes the Christian teaching that the Woman of Genesis 1 is Mary:

"Is Christ only to be adored? Or is the holy Mother of God rather not to be honoured? This is the woman who crushed the Serpent's head." Ancient Jewish commentaries on the Old Testament called the Targums have also drawn attention to the prophetic nature of this passage.]

The Prophetic Splendor�the Prophecy of the Virgin Birth "The Lord spake again unto Ahaz, saying, Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord. And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." [Isaiah 7:10-14].

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever." [Isaiah 9:6-7].

The Maternal Splendor�Mary, Daughter of the Father, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, Mother of the Son

"The angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. ... The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. ... And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." [Luke 1:26-33, 35,38].

"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost." (Matthew 1:18]. "Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: and she spake out with a loud voice, and said, blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? ... And blessed is she that believed.,' [Luke 2:41-43,45].

"And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary ... A sword shall pierce through thy own soul also." [Luke 2:34-35].

"And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them." [Luke 2:51)

The Merciful Splendor�Mary in the Public Ministry of Jesus

"And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine ... His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it." (John 2:3,5]

The Sorrowful Splendor�Mary at the Foot of the Cross

Crowned as the Mother of All the Faithful

"Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother ... When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, �Woman, behold thy son�. Then saith he to the disciple, �Behold thy mother.�" [John 19:25-27].

The Holy Splendor�Mary at Pentecost

"These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication. with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus ... And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. ... And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost." [Acts 1:14, 2:3-4].

The Heavenly Splendor�the Second Eve Continues Her Mission in the War with the Dragon

"And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: And she being with child cried ... and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron ... And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ, (Revelation 12]. [Since the Son here is clearly Jesus, His mother, the Woman, is just as clearly Mary. Those who acknowledge the "man child" as referring to Jesus but say (in sheer opposition to the text) that the mother is Nation Israel or the messianic people must answer this difficulty raised by Ignace de la Potterie: "If the Woman who gives birth is the Woman Zion, the messianic people, and if her infant is the Christ, the Messiah, is it not strange to propose in this manner a collective interpretation for the mother and an individual interpretation for her son? ... When one considers all that has been said, notably about this Old Testament figure of a woman which provided the background thought from which several evangelical texts have spoken of Mary, it seems impossible that the first Christian generation and all the subsequent ecclesial tradition did not also give, in this broader framework, a Marian interpretation to the victorious Woman of Revelation 12. In fact, that is precisely what has happened."] This seven-splendored story was the story of Mary that the Fathers of the Church and all Christians for 1600 years saw in Scripture and this is still the story grasped by the vast majority of Christians to this day in the Holy Bible. The glorious tapestry of Mary's mission woven in the Word of God gave rise to the great Marian titles and devotions of the centuries.

The Fathers recognized in Mary a bridge between the Old and the New Testaments, a Second Eve whose cooperation with the Second Adam was foretold and fulfilled. For our part, we cannot know the truth about Mary if we do not contemplate and appropriate each one of the seven Scriptural splendors of Mary. If Mary is seen in the light of only one or a few of the seven splendors the Mary we see is not the Mary of either Scripture or the historic Christian faith (the Mary of the Fundamentalists, for instance, is simply a caricature of the Scriptural Mary because it focuses simply on one aspect of one Splendor, the Virgin Birth, and ignores all the other splendors.)

is of the same order as the veneration of all the saints, and shares with it a common foundation; excepting only that among the saints, the Most Holy Virgin Mary naturally occupies the first place and stands higher than them all.

The "blessing" or veneration of the Most Holy and blessed Virgin is expressed in the Church of Christ on earth, in the first instance, by hymns and readings, praising and glorifying her in the divine services. The principal, solemn church hymns are texts from the sacred Scriptures: the salutation of the Angel, Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with thee (Luke 1:28), and the hymn of the Most Holy Virgin herself, My soul doth magnify the Lord (v.46).

The second expression of her veneration is manifest in the prayerful invocation of her aid in the multifarious needs of our temporal life and for our eternal salvation. Such prayer to the Virgin, and to all the saints, is based on the firm conviction of Orthodox Christians that all who have left the body and the earth are alive, and that the Heavenly and earthly Church are united under the one Head, Christ, that she is indeed His one Body, comprised of many members, who show compassion for one another and support one another (Luke 20; Eph. 1:10; Rom. 12; 1 Cor. 12).

But how naturally, simply and easily for the Church of Christ is her understanding of the great things of the Most Holy Virgin, which the Mighty One hath done for her, and which are the bases and the aspects of her veneration; and, on the contrary, how difficult for others, who are outside the Body of Christ which is the Church, is such understanding and remembrance, whereby with all their desire and with their whole soul they might gain salvation for themselves [exact meaning not clear, part of the text here is missing; the page margin having been lost�transl.]. At the same time, the common, authoritative (for Christians within the Church and outside her) foundation is the pure fount of knowledge, the Word of God, the Sacred Scriptures, which they find it difficult to agree about, because it is difficult for people outside the Church to be ministers of the New Testament, not according to the letter, but of the spirit (2 Cor. 3:6), and it is difficult for them to trust that the very same Holy Spirit, Who granted the Scriptures, also abides in the Church and that the Scriptures themselves were only granted to the Church on the assumption that unchangeably and inseparably the Holy Spirit, Who shall teach you all things (John 14:26), will abide within her. They believe that the Holy Spirit is in the Scriptures, but that in like power the Holy Spirit is unfailingly also in the Church they do not actually believe, and because they doubt this they have only the letter of Scripture without the spirit and life, without experiences, without incidents, without history, without practice, without life in Christ. Woe to those Christians outside the Church! It is difficult for them, the poor ones, to be saved, for what "increase" in the knowledge of God (Col. 1:10) can they offer unto God, not themselves having the Holy Spirit?

May the Lord help us to unfold the teaching of Christ's Church about the veneration of the Most Holy Virgin Mary in accordance with the mind and spirit of the Word of God, and in accordance with the witness of the holy and God-inspired Fathers of the Church of the first centuries of Christianity, those who were immediately united to the Apostolic age, and were good witnesses of the activity of the Spirit of God in their minds, their words, their actions and in the whole of their church-life.

The Virgin Mary and Eve

CHRIST proceeded forth from the Virgin Mary, as Adam had from the earth: Adam by the inbreathing of the Spirit of God�And breathed into him the breath of life;�and Christ by the coming of the Holy Spirit�the Holy Spirit shall come upon thee�was said of the Virgin Mary. Thus Christ came forth according to the likeness of Adam (Gen 2:7; Luke 1:35).

But Christ also proceeded forth accordingly to the likeness of Eve: thus Eve came forth from a father without a mother ("from the rib"), so Christ came forth from a mother without a father (she "knew not a husband"). Just as the first Adam brought forth from Eve without the participation of a woman, so Mary brought forth Christ without the participation of a man. Eve appeared only by the "seed" of a man, and Christ appeared only by the "seed" of a woman. The means whereby Eve and Christ came into being are identical: both received human nature by the power of God from one sex. At first the woman (Eve) did so from a man, and thereafter the man (Christ) did so from a woman. Thus Christ received the nature of the first Adam, the nature of all mankind, or the whole Adam from Mary, who gave Him this nature of Adam. For this reason as Adam said of Eve so can we say of Mary, and through her even of Christ: This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. Through the Virgin Mary our nature exists in Christ, the Second Adam (Genesis 2:21, 23; Luke 1:34).

Just as Christ is the Second Adam, so Mary is the second Eve. This is evident from a comparison of the temptation of Eve with the Annunciation of Mary.

Then there was a manifestation of a fallen Angel, the serpent, the devil. Here there is a manifestation of a holy Angel, Gabriel. Genesis 3:1 (Rev. 20:2) Luke 1:26.

The first promised Eve, that through her man would be as God,�ye shall be as gods. The second promised Mary that through her God would become man�He shall be called the Son of the Most High ... the Son of God. Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Genesis 3:4�Luke 1:32, 35; Matt. 1:23.

Through Eve�the fall; through Mary�salvation. When Eve was deluded and desired to be as God, she was not made God. Now God is made man so that man can in reality become divine, and first of all Mary does so, in whom He came, as being the first of all the race of man. Woman was the first to fall, and the first to be saved.

Eve was shown as one who did not trust God's commandments, who did not believe God and who longed to receive divinization by her own empirical knowledge. Mary trusted God completely; in this faith she rejected knowledge (I know not a man, and it was not necessary to know one), and she said: Be it unto me according to thy word. Then there was a fall for her [Eve], and through doubt and unbelief for all people; here there is salvation for her [Mary], and through faith for all people. Genesis 3:6�Luke 1:34, 37, 45.

Eve showed disobedience to God and to His commandment�thou shalt not eat of it (of the tree) ... she took of the fruit thereof and did eat. Mary was obedient to the will of God at the Annunciation without any doubt and she said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Genesis 2:17, 3:6�Luke 1:38.

Eve became proud in her thoughts�ye shall be as gods. Mary was the humble handmaid of the Lord, both in receiving the good tidings of the advent through her of God in the flesh, and also even before this event, for which cause He had looked upon the lowliness of His handmaiden, and it was precisely for this quality of her soul that He turned His attention to her, and for it that He deemed her worthy to be His Mother. Then through pride Eve desired to be God, and now in humility Mary is deemed worthy to receive God into herself and give Him human nature for the sake of our salvation. Genesis 3:4�Luke 1:48.

Eve was deprived of the grace of the Holy Spirit and was no longer permitted to approach the tree of life. Mary received in herself the Son of God, Life Eternal; she found grace, God; she received the salutation, Rejoice, full of grace! the Lord is with thee, and she conceived according to the word: the Holy Spirit shall come upon thee....

In these first and very important examples we see that God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Genesis 3:24�Luke 1:28, 30, 35; James 4:6.

For her sin Eve was given over to the afflictions and pains of childbearing; Mary as one without a husband and one who had not sinned, painlessly gave birth to a Son.

But it was because Eve was seduced by the sweetness of the fruit of the tree of life, that a sword pierced the soul of Mary, when she saw her Son on the tree of the Cross. Christ redeemed the sin of Eve. The rib, from which Eve was fashioned, was pierced in the second Adam and, as a sign of expitiation and cleansing of the first sin, blood and water poured therefrom. But to the Cross of her Son Mary brought her guiltless, redemptive moral affliction and suffering for the sin of Eve, because it was on account of the sin of Eve that her Son ascended the Cross. Mary suffered on account of Eve and at the very Cross itself, where the sin of Eve was washed away. Luke 2:35; John 19:34.

We see that if Christ is the second Adam, then Mary is in reality the second Eve, and if Eve was made as a help, meet for and like unto Adam (Gen. 2:18, 20), so Mary in all her qualities appeared as "help, meet for and like unto" the second Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself And in so far as the greatness of the second Adam is boundless, so too the greatness of the second Eve is holy and exalted, worthy of this Adam.

There is none among men to compare with her. At the beginning and in the middle of history, there stand two women, Eve and Mary. Eve is the mother of fallen and sinning mankind. Mary is the mother of a new, reborn mankind which is being saved. In the first there was the cause of universal evil; in the second, the cause of universal good.

II. The Life Story of the All-holy Virgin Mary from Her Birth Until the Annunciation
1. The Birth of the All-holy Virgin Mary. In the birth of the All-holy Virgin Mary we have the beginning of the the sacred history of the New Testament, the history of our salvation. It was the preparation for the incarnation of the Son of God, the advent of God in the flesh. Thereby that human nature, which was to receive God Himself, is made ready, that the race of man might be saved. This human nature had to be made worthy of God, had to be holy and immaculate; it needed a holy origin, upbringing and development. Her being chosen of God rests in the fact that she of all mankind must needs give to God reciprocally the common nature of mankind.

The time of the Virgin's birth is the time of the awaiting of the coming of the Messiah, Christ. Her parents are Joachim and Anna; he was of the kingly, and she of the high priestly, lineage.[1] The spouses, well advanced in age did not have any children. This was regarded as a disgrace among the people, and for this reason they were considered as deprived of God's blessing.

In abasement and humility they desired a child, as a mercy from God and to take away their disgrace and reproach among the people. In this way, humility, prayer and the holy promise to dedicate their child to God for service in the Temple were the spiritual prerequisite of its birth. And God heard them, and to them there was born a daughter, whom they called Mary. The name Mary is a translation from the Hebrew and it signifies: high, exalted over all.

The Mother of the Lord was in actuality born of pious parents, and indeed could only be the fruition of their spiritual endeavour, their heartfelt striving, and their tearful prayers to God. A spiritual existence could only be the fruit of the spirit, initiated not only according to the natural, blind inclinations of the flesh and the natural laws of the requirements of the nature of the flesh, but according to the aspirations of the spirit and through the action of the special mercy and grace of God for people, who were already elderly and whose flesh was withering, but who were living according to the spirit. If the origin be holy, so shall the whole, and if the root be holy, so are the branches (Rom 11:16). From a holy root there came forth a holy fruit.

An example of a promise with reference to a future child is given by the barren Hannah [Anna], the mother of the holy Prophet Samuel. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of Sabaoth! if Thou wilt indeed look upon the affliction of Thy handmaid, and remember me, and not forget Thine handmaid, but wilt give unto Thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life... (1 Kings [Samuel] 1:10-11). Joachim and Anna also followed the example of the parents of the righteous Samuel.

The mother of the Saviour, a King according to His earthly descent and according to His eternal ministry, and High Priest of the future good things, naturally, had in herself to compass the two lines of descent, the royal and high priestly, in her people. By her father she was of the tribe of Judah and the house of David, and through her mother she was of the tribe of Levi and the house of Aaron. Although Christ came forth from a mother alone without a father, and Joseph was only the betrothed husband of Mary, the protector and guardian of her virginity and only the nominal father of the Saviour, yet the Saviour was not simply nominally of the royal house, but was in reality, through his mother and according to the flesh, of this house, of which in the person of David it had been said of the Lord, thy throne shall be established unto the ages (2 Kings [Samuel] 7:16). This throne could not be disestablished, and Mary actually was herself actually descended from the house of David that she might be the mother of the Lord.

2. The entrance Into the Temple of the All-holy Virgin Mary. When Mary was fully three years old, Joachim and Anna fulfilled their vow and brought her to the Temple in Jerusalem, that she might stay there in the Lord's service. The maiden, thus consecrated to God, was brought up at the Temple and lived nearby in the special apartments [attached thereto]. Customarily the high priest received and blessed all those consecrated to God at the gates of the Temple, but when they brought in the infant Mary, he, by the special inspiration of the Holy Spirit, led her into the Temple's Holy of Holies, where he himself was permitted to enter only once a year.

The All-holy Virgin Mary lived at the Temple until her fourteenth year, continuing in labours, in prayer and in the reading of the word of God, in the fulfilment of every virtue. But at that time it was necessary for her either to return to her parents or be given in marriage. As Joachim and Anna had at that time already reposed, and the All-holy Virgin had no desire to enter marriage, the priests of the Temple betrothed her to a distant relation, the elder Joseph, for him to be the guardian of her virginity.

The All-holy Virgin was consecrated to the Lord after fulfilling three years, following the example of the Old Testament injunction regarding the fruits of the trees: "Three years shall it be uncircumcised unto you, it shall not be eaten of But in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be consecrated for the festivals of the Lord" (Lev. 19:23-4).

Thus did Hannah say of her son Samuel: "When the child shall be taken from the breast and weaned, then Will I bring him that he may appear before the Lord and there abide for ever." "And she brought him unto the house of the Lord in Silom, and the child was still an infant ... and she said: For this child I prayed, and the Lord hath fulfilled my petition, which I asked of Him; therefore also have I given him over to the Lord all the days of his life, that he may serve the Lord" (1 Kings [Samuel] 1:21-28). In a like spirit, we must suppose, Mary's parents brought and gave over their little child in the Temple for service.

How far this comparison is true and represents the actual entry of the All-holy Virgin Mary into the Temple can be judged from the fact that that the All-holy Virgin herself sang her festive song ("My soul doth magnify the Lord") and her thanksgiving to God for her election to be His mother according to the flesh following the example of the song of Hannah, the mother of the Prophet Samuel (1 Kings 2:1-10): "My heart rejoiceth in the Lord; mine horn is exalted in the Lord...." It is evident that certain of the most important verses in the composition of these wondrous hymns parallel each other. Furthermore, we can not only find parallels between the All-holy Virgin and the Prophet Samuel in their birth and in their being presented in the Temple, but also in the fact that Samuel sought out and anointed the child David, the originator of the royal house, for the kingship, and Mary gave birth to his last Descendent, the Messiah, the King of an Eternal Kingdom. The ministers of the same work had the same upbringing.

Everyone who has the Holy Spirit is a temple of God (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19). In such a man, God abides by grace. But only in one person in the world did God Himself abide, in His very Being, in His nature, taking human nature and abiding in her�this one was the All-holy Virgin Mary. She is actually the Temple of God and the place of His presence and of His glory.

As she is thus herself the "Holy of Holies"�herself "the Ark"�, again the Lord shall be manifested (Ex. 22:25) unto the race of man, the All-holy Virgin does not simply enter the Temple but goes into the very Holy of Holies, behind the veil with its depictions of the Cherubims. Just as Simeon the God-receiver came by inspiration into the Temple to meet the Infant Lord (Luke 2:27), so also by the inspiration of God the high priest met the Virgin in an extraordinary way, and led her into the holy place, which corresponded to her. In "the chambers built round the walls of the Temple, round the Temple and the oracle (the Holy of Holies), there in the chambers built around at the sides" (3 Kings 6:5), which were by the second Temple, there it was that the All-holy Virgin spent her youth.

The Life Story of the All-holy Virgin Mary from the Annunciation to the Ascension of the Lord1. The Annunciation. Why was it that for His incarnation God chose precisely the Virgin Mary from Nazareth? Like is drawn to like.

The Son of God, by the will of God the Father and the action of the Holy Spirit, Could only take up His abode in such a Virgin, and could only receive human nature from such a human being, who was worthy thereof, and who according to the qualities of her soul was fitted to receive God in herself. From the account of the Annunciation to the All-holy Virgin it is clear that it was just such a Virgin that God sought, and that He found her in Mary.

With regard to the purposes of the incarnation of God, Mary was the best of all women on earth ("Blessed art thou among women") and among all the tribes and generations of mankind ("All generations shall call her blessed").

That she might receive God in herself and might minister at the "mystery of piety," which is the appearance in the world of "God in the flesh" (1 Tim. 3:16),�Mary was already sufficiently prepared on the day of the Annunciation.

God saves man, but not without man. He seeks him who will receive Him. And God sought in the world for a person through whom He might come amongst men.

God sought a "ladder" which would unite heaven with earth (Genesis 28:12).

God sought a "thorn bush" which would not be burned by the presence of His Divinity (Exodus 3:2).

God sought an "ark"�not one in which to place the tablets of the Law, but for the Word Incarnate Himself (Genesis 10:5).

He sought a "golden vessel" for the manna, the Bread That came down from Heaven, for His Son (Heb. 9:4; John 6:33).

He sought a "sanctuary" and "tabernacle," in which He might "take up His abode among-men" (Exodus 25:8).

The time came for the incarnation of God, and the ancient "figures for the time then present" (Heb. 9:9) were realized in the tabernacle and ladder with a soul, in the bush, and ark and vessel which had a soul�in the Virgin.

For a long time, through many generations the faith was fostered, and at the last in Mary it achieved its highest development and perfection, its final limit and fulfilment.

She remembered the ninety year-old Sarah, who bore a son, when her husband was a hundred years old. She knew that Sarah had wrongfully doubted the fulfilment of God's promise: "is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Genesis 18:14). And the childless Rebecca received twins of God in no other way save by the fervent prayer of her husband (Gen. 25:2 1). The grief-stricken Rachel had children only by God's mercy (Genesis 30:22). The mother of Sampson conceived him only after the annunciation from the Lord's Angel (Judges 13:2-3). Hannah (Anna) gave birth to Samuel after many afflictions, prayers and warm tears, in accordance with the prophecy of the High Priest Eli (1 Kings 1:2-17). Finally, her kinswoman, Elizabeth, who had been called barren, conceived John the Baptist in her old age (Luke 1:36). But all these holy women had husbands, and God's great help was manifested through natural human powers. For this reason, at the Angel's greeting, Mary posed the question: "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" And then she makes a last effort of faith and the most exalted that is possible to man: that God overcomes the laws of nature and does whatsoever He wills. She believes, that without a husband, by the "power of the Most High," she will have a Son.

The faith of the All-holy Virgin was marked by perfect selflessness and complete forgetfulness of self. To be pregnant in her condition as a virgin betrothed to an elder for the very purpose of guarding her virginity, [2] this entailed grieving the holy elder Joseph, to appear to have changed her calling, to subject herself to disgrace and dishonour before men, and even to a death sentence according to the law. But the power of her faith was so strong that such considerations did not restrain her, even though the danger was later to be manifest in actuality when the godly elder desired to put her away, surrendering her to the will of God and to personal responsibility for her action (Matthew 1:19). Her trust in God was without limit, and from this trust there was born humility and submission to God along with a courage and a fearlessness, which empowered her for this greatest of struggles.

The Angel testified to the Virgin: "Thou hast found grace with God" (Luke 1:30). Before the Angel's greeting, throughout the course of her young life, she had found God's mercy. In what way? How? Evidently, through faith, obedience and humility. By these virtues�which are the very essence of the holy nature common to all mankind and are the spiritual strength of the woman�with which, in her battle with the devil, she, by the dispensation of God, struck him, in his spirit of faithlessness, disobedience and pride, on the head. By the power of these virtues, even the "seed of the woman," Jesus Christ, conquered the devil. He, Who was to appear among men as an example of humility, as the path to salvation�"I am meek and lowly of heart" (Matt. 11:29)�and by a humility which was precisely that of a human nature and not only of the Divine, He was to conquer the devil (Matt. 4:1-10). He had to receive that human nature, soul and body, from the most humble handmaiden of the Lord. Christ, "the seed of the woman" (Genesis 3:15), so that He might crush the serpent in the bead, had to be authentically the seed of the woman, the bearer of a true humility taken from her common human nature. It was precisely for this reason that "He looked upon the lowliness of His handmaiden" and "exalted" her "of low degree" (Luke 1:48, 52).

Human nature in her was actually prepared for the saving Divine act by humility, the moral quality which is most important for the raising up again of humanity which had fallen through pride. "And upon him will I look," says the Lord, "on him that is humble and broken of heart, and trembleth at My words" (Es. 66:2). And He looked upon her and made her a new throne of the Divinity, because He Himself said of His dwelling-place: "I dwell in the high heaven and the holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit" (Es. 57:15). Thus, the deeds and words of God closely correspond and are true to each other, and the All-holy Virgin Mary with the particular qualities of her character was distinctly and clearly indicated in the Sacred Scriptures in the strength of those qualities, which were not in her circumstantially, nor accidentally, nor as being commonly found among all virgins, with all their inadequacies, but that she might participate in the work of the salvation of mankind.

That which Eve threw off course and marred in her soul, Mary corrected, and raised up within herself and was made "amenable" to the Lord Himself, she responded to God's purposes, she prepared the human nature within her to offer it as a gift to God for His work of salvation. All that could be done by human efforts for her personal sanctity Mary did, leaving to the Divine energies only the salvation of her nature unto life eternal, which salvation was worked in Christ for all mankind.

In her humanity was prepared, made ready for the reception of God, given in her all that it could be given: all the faith, all the humility, all the love towards God, all its perfection was offered to God as a gift. More than this it could not offer. After this there could only be the descent of the Divinity upon a soil tilled and made ready. And God perceived on the ground the beauty of man, and that in her, and so in her He found for Himself a place, where He might unite the earthly and the heavenly. The golden vessel for the heavenly manna was readied, and the tabernacle, in which God would dwell, was set up, the ark was made for the Word of God, the new tablets [i.e. as in the tablets of stone on which the Law was inscribed by God�ed.].

The Virgin Mary, it is she who is the objective of the Old Testament Church. If the race of man was prepared to receive the Saviour, for the coming of God upon earth, then it was prepared in her, that it might offer her. She is the one, through whom it was possible to receive Christ on earth. All the righteousness of the Old Testament Church was concentrated in her. She is the most exalted of all and the holiest that the Old Covenant could achieve in awaiting the Messiah.

The race of man had to give of itself the New Eve, the new mother of mankind, one being saved and faithful, in place of one unbelieving and sinning.

Thus the All-holy Virgin is the culmination and embodiment of all that had gone before in the Old Testament Church.

2. The Obedience of the Child Jesus to His Mother (Luke 2:41-52). The All-holy Virgin and Joseph sought for the Child Jesus "with great sorrowing" for the course of three days, until in the end they found Him in the Temple at Jerusalem "in the midst of the doctors." With what grief, meekness and tenderness did the All-holy Virgin pronounce those words of reproach: "Child, why hast Thou thus dealt with us?" Such pain Thou hast occasioned, what suffering Thou hast brought; how Thou hast exhausted us by this behaviour! "Behold, Thy father and I ..." What hast Thou done unto us?

"How is it that ye sought Me? Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" Of course, they knew perfectly well that Joseph was not His father. "And they understood not the saying which He spake unto them," as to how, precisely, He must be about His heavenly Father's business. And Mary "kept all these sayings in her heart," as things precious, beloved and noteworthy, but yet not understood until the time. How the work of this Child would develop, how it would be manifest, how the salvation of people would be effected�all this was hidden from the Mother of the Lord. She did not comprehend, but she believed and she kept His words with love and humility. And the Child did not reject or decline from the demands of parental obedience. Whilst possessing the highest rights and already fully aware of His duty, He did not disregard the lowlier human duties and He took to heart the "great sorrow" and the concern of those related to Him by the flesh. "And was subject unto them." No more did He disobey or grieve His mother. Under her protection, subject to her, in the normal way of family life He "increased in wisdom and stature, and in the love of God and man." His being subject to His fleshly parents, and particularly to the Mother to whom only He was related according to the flesh, did not hinder His preparation for His ministry among the people, but rather it went along with the Divine plan and worked with that ministry. The Lord accepted obedience to the Heavenly Father and to the earthly mother in the first days of His conscious life as a child.

3. The Intercession of the Lord's Mother for the People (John 2:1-11). The fact that the All-holy Virgin sincerely "kept all these words, and pondered them in her heart," as well as those things which He said and which were said of Him (Luke 2:19, 51), and that she oversaw all the "growing and strengthening in spirit, being filled with the wisdom and grace of God" of her Child, as an Infant, Youth and mature Man (Luke 2:40, 52) led in the end to her calling her Son to work His first miracle, to the beginning of signs and wonders for the salvation of the people, to the very start of His ministry, and to the conversion to the Faith of His first disciples. Her presence and participation in this definite and crucial moment in His life and work, at the marriage in Cana of Galilee, was necessary, From His mother the Lord received the first call to work miracles, and to take up His acts of mercy and benefaction towards the race of man.

The lack of wine at the marriage feast was the circumstance which required the All-holy Virgin to inform her Son and desire Him to help the poor people. The need and poverty in the house were apparent. Acquaintances of the holy family of the poor carpenter from Nazareth had with difficulty provided a wedding meal, but it was soon finished. It was only so that the wedding supper should not be overshadowed by the insufficiency and poverty becoming apparent, that the heart of the All-holy Virgin was disclosed as being sensitive to the needs of her neighbour, compassionate, sincerely loving, responsive, touchingly caring and tender.

And for the first time we hear of an appeal, intercession and petition for the needs of man from the lips of the Mother of God to her Divine Son, just as He begins the work of the salvation of mankind. The kindhearted heart of the All-holy Virgin Mary, herself the representative of the race of man and sensitive to the afflictions of the latter, intercedes; it brings the needs of people before the Saviour and calls Him to the work of salvation and to the working of His first miracle at the very outset of His ministry.

"They have no wine," says the Virgin. "What is that to Me and thee?" [The translation in most Protestant versions of the Gospels has "What have I to do with thee?" as if the Saviour, Who gave us the commandment to honour our parents (Exodus 20:12) were somehow rejecting His own mother. No doubt the translators were unduly influenced by their preconceived ideas in this instance�ed.] or put another way, What matter is it to Me and you that they have no wine? According to the understanding of men, it is not the concern of us, as guests; let the hosts themselves worry about this. The Lord has His own thoughts and concerns, which are more important and which now concern Him. But if in these words, "What is that to Me and thee," and further on, "Mine hour is not yet come," there is a [deeper] thought, then it means this: Why do you appeal to Me and remind Me about the hour which is not yet come? The Lord gives His mother's words, "They have no wine," a completely different meaning. She speaks of one thing, and at the same time He considers another, and reflection on this other thing is not consonant with a wedding feast for Him and does not bring joy. Why do you speak of this now? "For His hour" was to be that supper and that night, of which the Gospel speaks, saying "Jesus, knowing that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father"... (John 13:1). The start of His ministry was at a wedding supper, and the consummation and conclusion of the ministry was to be at the Mystical Supper with the disciples. Both here and there, there would be wine. At the first supper there is the changing of the water into wine; at the second, wine into blood. And both there and here it is for the disciples. His ministry starts and concludes with one miracle in similar circumstances. "Why are you concerned about the wine, when My hour has not yet come?"�in such a way does the Lord speak. This tender, mild rebuke against an innocent and slight reminder concerning the future wine of His blood not only does not, however, negate the Virgin's request, but to the contrary He wholly accepts that request. And thus indeed it is that the All-holy Virgin understood the words of her Son, that her petition was heard and would be fulfilled, and so as a ready and quick helper she gave her directions to the servants.

"Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it," she said. In these words there is contained the one commandment, the one teaching of the holy Virgin concerning her Son. These words are crucial and the outline the only means of salvation for all�obedience to her Son. The Mother of the Lord speaks thus, and so from heaven does His Father also speak: "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well-pleased, hear ye Him" (Matt. 17:5). These words of the All-holy Virgin are wholly sufficient to inform us how she thought of her Son. These words reveal how much she new of His Divine power, what she expected of Him, how she desired people should relate to Him. "Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it." See what a sermon the race of man has for itself from the lips of the All-holy Virgin Mary at the very outset, at the very start of the Lord's ministry.

"This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Gallilee." This beginning was inaugurated at the petition of His Mother, who was sensitive to people's needs. The first petition of the Mother coincided with the beginning of the Saviour's ministry and with the first miracle of His mercy and love towards the race of man. Thereafter His mercy was poured forth in miracles without end, but for the inauguration, heart-felt participation and petition for this He first hearkened unto His Mother, the intercessor before Him concerning the needs of mankind.

"And manifested forth His glory." Only thirty years after His birth, the Lord through this miracle manifested His glory before the people. Until this moment, that glory had been hidden�no one knew of it, except the All-holy Virgin. Now at the wedding she alone is found to be conversant with His actual power, and she contributed to its manifestation both by her petition to her Son and by her instruction to the servants. Her role was replete with meekness and humility. Nothing was manifest except kindheartedness, the movement of a heart which lived by love. She herself can do nothing, and can give no other help other than directing [us] to her Son. She has no glory of any kind for herself and does not seek it, but arranges all for the glory of the Son. She is the handmaiden of the glory of God.

"And His disciples believed on Him." Naturally they only now believed on Him, recognizing in Him the power of God. The All-holy Virgin did not need this confirmation. From Him she only needed help for the people. But earlier, before the holy Apostles and many times more than they, she knew her Son, believed in Him and had served Him all her life. Having come to believe in the Saviour not without her mediation, the Apostles could learn from no one more than from her the details of the Annunciation and the Nativity of Christ, and they recorded this in the Gospels exactly as she had handed it down and as she desired. In faith and service to Christ she thus led the holy Apostles as also in sequence of time, and she did so as well in the power and depth of her own faith, which did not experience those doubts which the faith of the holy Apostles experienced. She excelled and was senior to the holy Apostles in all things.

4. The Endeavour of the Lord's Mother to Protect Her Son (Mark 3:30-35). In Capernaum the Lord and His disciples "went into an house, and the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. And when those close to Him heard (where He was), they went out to lay hold on Him: for they said, He is beside Himself. And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the power of the prince of demons casteth He out demons." It was rumoured among the people that He was beside Himself. It was not that all those close to Him themselves thought this and believed this, but this rumour necessitated their coming to take Him home The scribes from Jerusalem said straight out that He was possessed of demons. More than once there arose divisions among the Jews concerning Him, and some said directly, "He hath a demon, and is mad; why hear ye Him?" (John 10:20).

What did the mother feel, when her Son had to bear these insults? How did she bear with the blasphemy and calumny, which the mass of unbelievers and evil people wove around Him? How painful it was for her, how she suffered for her Son, knowing Him and understanding Him as only a mother can. In what other way could she protect her own dear and darling Son, save only by coming to "take Him" home from amidst the company of the unbelieving? If they were dishonouring Him and slandering Him in this way, was it not better that He depart from among those evil people? Only such an impulse of compassion of the Mother towards her Son, and pain for Him, and the desire to protect and safeguard Him from the evil rumours of the people and the slanders can explain this encleavour to take the Lord home. [In English translations this desire is ascribed to the Lord's "friends;" but the Slavonic / Russian, which Fr. Michael uses, has "close ones" which would include His kinsmen and thus particularly His mother, and see the following�transl.]

"Then came His mother and His brethren, and standing outside the house, sent unto Him to call Him" (Mark 3:31). Although the "Lord's brethren" (Acts 1:14, 1 Cor. 9:5) later turn out to be numbered among the Apostles and are themselves made such, yet concerning some of them it is permissible to say that at the start they "did not believe in Him" (John 7:2-10). Nonetheless all the kinsfolk of the Saviour according to the flesh shared a common concern for Him and were of one mind with His mother in desiring to take Him out from among those do did not wish Him well.

The Lord always employed teaching only from life, deriving from life, and taught from life, and every circumstance in life gave Him a subject for instruction. So it is here. His kinsfolk are calling for Him? O, He has many kinsfolk!�"Whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is My brother, and My sister, and mother," said the Lord. In this way, from relatives according to the flesh only, [He indicates] one that is His true relative, according to the spirit, and not only according to the flesh. And we saw that she who was uniquely a relative according to the spirit of Christ the Son of God was His mother according to the flesh. She, and all those who, in this same power, are related to her according to the spirit of obedience to the will of God, are made His true kinsmen: mother, sisters, brothers.

He Who taught that "every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life" (Matt. 19:29), naturally himself fulfilled all this, and He left His relatives according to the flesh that He might obtain for Himself hundreds and thousands more kinsfolk for the Kingdom of God. But if the Lord taught, "Honour thy father and thy mother" (Matt. 19:19), then His leaving them was not dishonouring them but a form of higher honour. Such then as were close and dear to Him, as they were, He obtains by the multitude.

The Gospel does not recount whether, when they called for Him, the Lord was seen by his relations or whether He was not seen by them. And many of the commonplace events of the Lord's life are not recounted. However, we do know of the love of Christ, how He, after as it were raising an objection to His mother, fulfilled her request in Cana, how, after as it were refusing help to the Canaanitish woman, He did heal her daughter (Matt. 15:22), how not being under an obligation to pay tax to the Temple, He nonetheless paid it (Matt. 17:24). It was just the same here; of course He fulfilled the wish of His relatives and saw them, and calmed them down, and reminded them once again that He "must be about" His "Father's business," in the service of the will of the Father. The Lord, without rejecting the love of His kinsfolk, directed it through a true, spiritual, and not a carnal, channel. An earthly love, that which is carnal and a temptation, that which turns aside from the struggle for salvation, was shown Christ not only by His kinsmen but even by the most devoted of the Apostles, Peter (Matthew 16:23).

5. The Blessing of the Virgin Mary by the Woman in the Crowd (Luke 11:27-28). "As He spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto Him, Blessed is the womb that bare Thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked! But He said, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it."

The woman's delight at the Lord's words, for "a multitude of the people heard him gladly" (Mark 12:37), was naturally transferred to the person of the Divine Preacher Himself. It was precisely because He was so wondrous, beautiful and endlessly wise that His mother, having such a Son, was fortunate and so blessed. The woman enters into the joy of His mother, ingenuously envying her, and in praising her Son in the first place, through Him she also praises His mother. But He, "receiving not honour from man" (John 5:41), Himself blesses all those who hear the word of God and keep it. This is true blessedness. For this reason actually He is blessed Himself, as the archetype of fulfilling the word of God, and blessed also, precisely through this fulfilling of the word of God, is His mother, for only through its fulfilment was she deemed worthy to be the Mother of the Lord. Herein is the essence of blessedness both for her and for everyone. If the woman proposes that His mother is blessed, then let her come to know why she is blessed and how she herself might be made blessed together with her and others. Like the Mother of the Lord, all those who with her keep the word of God are worthy of blessing and glorification. That which is unto the salvation of all is what is important to the Lord in every instance. How was the All-holy Virgin Mary made Mother of the Lord? And, by the same token, how are those, who after her example, made His kinsfolk? She recognized the will of God. Only this brought her so close to the Lord. In this fact and on this basis is the cause of her kinship with the Lord and that of every man; it is the condition on which each person can be made His kinsman, as was the All-holy Virgin Mary.

The "blessed among women" receives a blessing from women in the person of this woman. Even during the lifetime of the Lord Jesus Christ, before Him and in His hearing this blessing was pronounced and it was accepted by Him. And He has set up His mother as am example to all, manifesting the essence of her righteousness, thanks to which she became His mother.

6. The Lord's Love for His Mother (John 19:26-27). Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother and the other women. "When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, He saith unto His mother: Woman, behold thy son! Then saith He to the disciple: Behold, thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto himself."

Until this time the mother of the Lord did not need any such protection, because she had such in the person of her own Son, Who always cared for His mother. Now another period dawns. The mother is bereaved, losing the support and protection of her only Son. She is left alone.

It is clear from Christ's action on the cross, that the Lord's care for His mother was constant but that only now does its root cause emerge in the change in her position, when His care for her is about to be curtailed and brought to a close. There remains only for Him to make His last dispositions concerning her settlement.

The Lord always had love for His mother according to the flesh, actually an earthly love, and He had a concern for her material and spiritual wellbeing throughout all His life, from infancy, from His first conscious days, when He could only be "subject" unto her (Luke 2:51). It is only Such an ever-present concern which can explain this last [expression of], concern for her.

The beloved disciple of the Lord, who alone was able, because of the particular qualities of his character, to deputize for the Lord Himself with regard to His All-pure Mother, became a new Son for her in place of Him, and he is the greatest witness that the Lord loved and revered His mother. This is greater and better than what He was able to do for her. It was only through His beloved disciple that He was able to convey, express and manifest His love to His mother to a sufficient degree.

The mother of the Lord is mother only of Him alone, the Divine Person Who, for our salvation, voluntarily accepted human nature from her. Uniquely among all the mothers of the whole world, she was never left a former mother of a human person, for when the Lord left the world, He, her one and only born Son, made the human person, John, her son by adoption. Just as He Himself, not being the Son of Joseph, was adopted by him, so now in place of Himself, Mary adopts John. This was her first son from among the peoples, from among human beings, and in his person all Christians become her sons and daughters in this way. You see the common nature of mankind, taken from her by the Lord, actually made her mother of the whole of mankind. For this reason, having made John hers by adoption, the Lord also makes all of us, Christians, hers by adoption, and grants her permission to be called the mother of all peoples, even though essentially, by nature, she is mother only of the one Divine Person, her Son. In John, in her first son from among people, we, all peoples, and more especially the Christians, become her children.

When the Lord had completed the work of redemption for the people and offered human nature itself in sacrifice, timelily [This term is unclear. Does he mean "in due time" or "at the same time"�webmaster] was the first bearer of His redeemed nature made fully mother of His beloved disciple and of all people. From this time forth, His mother becomes mother of all. This is the New Eve and "mother of all the living" (Gen. 3:20). Just as after the fall into sin Adam named his wife, so after the redemption of Adam's sin the Lord called His Mother. Mary is first of the redeemed, but after her then all peoples.

We see, in accordance with the writings of the Gospel, the Mother of the Lord in an advisory way taking part at the start of the Lord's manifestation on earth, in its middle, at His approaching the ministry that was saving for the whole race of mankind, and at the end of His earthly life. In these accounts from the Holy Gospel there is quite sufficient substance to indicate what significance the Mother of the Lord has in the work which He perfected for the salvation of people. In the most essential moments of the Lord's ministry, all the holy lineaments of her character are manifest, and her relationship with her Son and with people are shown with sufficient clarity and expression. The short references of the Word of God concerning the All-holy Virgin Mary are also replete with the deepest significance and edification, as are all the other words of Scripture. Her greatness is clearly recognized, and the honouring of her blessedness and her being blessed among all generations are firmly, reasonably and thoroughly founded by the same Divine Word.

IV. The Life History of the All-holy Virgin Mary from the Lord's Ascension Until Her Death
1. The Accord of All with the Lord's Mother (Acts 1: 14). "Then returned they (from the mount of the Ascension) ... and they went up into an upper room, where abode (all the Apostles).... These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with certain of the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brethren."

After the Lord's Ascension there came about a fundamental change in the mutual relations of all the first believers. The Holy Apostles had been inseparably close to the Lord, and after them there often followed many women (Luke 8:1-3; Matt. 27:55). Now the orphaned community is all gathered together, not travelling, and they are to be found in one place. And the Mother of Jesus and His brothers are with them. The "unbelief," doubts and uneasiness of His brothers are at an end, as is their closeness according to the flesh with the Great Man. There comes instead a general concord, which is now expressed in prayer and supplication. There were many women among then, for the company numbered about "an hundred and twenty" (Acts 1:15), but only one of them is mentioned by name, the Mother of the Lord, and this even though formerly several of them were accounted for by name. It is fitting that now she alone has a mention, just as it is that earlier in His lifetime she was not mentioned in the number of the female companions of the Lord. That was not her time; she observed her Son from afar; she saw Him at home every time He was in His hometown; then she came to His Cross. Now she, as an active member of the Christian community, is together with the Apostles and all the community. This is why she alone is mentioned here. This fact was therefore worthy of note. The Lord is not with them in the flesh; the Mother of the Lord is. There came about an exceptional solidarity within the whole community and the Lord's Mother took her own appropriate place therein, putting her prayers and supplications behind the general cause. The concord of all was now a concord with the Mother of the Lord in the strength of her participation in the common assembly.

2. The Glorious Dormition of the All-holy Virgin Mary. Several years after the Ascension of the Lord into heaven, at a time when the All-holy Virgin was fervently praying to the Lord that she might "be absent from the body and be present with the Lord," she sighed "desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven" (2 Cor. 5:1-8)�for, to whom would it be more onerous than to her to be separated from the beloved Son?�then the Archangel Gabriel, her heavenly minister, appeared to her with the good tidings that in three days she would indeed be reunited with her Divine Son. The Mother of the Lord, God's dwelling place on earth, would now herself be translated to God's heavenly dwelling place.

The holy Apostles, the eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word, of God in the flesh, would behold the demise of her, whose flesh God Himself had born. And in the same way as the holy Apostle Philip, through the prompting of an Angel, went down on the way to Gaza, and was subsequently "caught away" by the Angel and "found at Azotus" (Acts 8:26, 39, 40), so also all the holy Apostles, who were dispersed throughout the world, were, by the Divine omnipotence, caught up from their various places and were gathered together at the death-bed of the All-holy Theotokos.

But the death of the All-holy Virgin was exactly a falling asleep [dormition]: it was without the slightest heaviness or conflict at the separation of her soul from the body that she, as it were, fell asleep. The Lord Himself, appearing with a company of the holy Angels and of the spirits of the righteous, received her immaculate soul. The Son repaid His debt to the mother and received her unto Himself in Heaven, as she had received Him unto herself on earth. The One Who was Himself mortal in the flesh which He had received from her, being a man, willed that she should die and surrender her soul into His hands.

However, the physical nature of mankind, which in Christ had resurrected, could not be wholly given over to death and corruption in the one from whom the Lord had received that nature.

Like her Son, she was subject to the natural law in her death, and she dies with her Son, so that she might with Him rise again unto all eternity Being a heaven herself, she is taken up to heaven; as the throne of God, she goes to God's throne. Her resurrection and ascension into heaven were assured, for she was not lesser than the Prophets Enoch and Elias, who also have not seen corruption and the dissolution of their bodies. And it was not possible that the Lord would permit the dissolution of the most pure and most sanctified divine temple of His Mother, when He Himself had in three days raised up in Himself that temple which was destroyed in Him (John 2:19). Thus the Lord, Who rose on the third day, raised the All-holy Virgin on the third day.

On this day, at the request of the Apostle Thomas, who had arrived late for the repose and burial of the Mother of God, her tomb was opened, but within the body of the Virgin was not to be found. The evening of the very same day, the holy Apostles rose from table and, according to the sacred custom, took a portion which was set aside in the Lord's honour, and they began to glorify the All-holy Trinity and desired to intone "All-holy Trinity" or "Lord Jesus Christ, help us," when they saw the All-holy Virgin in the air with a multitude of Angels, and she spoke to them: "Rejoice! I am ever with you!" The Apostles exclaimed "All-holy Theotokos, help us."

Thus the life of the All-holy Virgin Mary from her birth until the Annunciation is known to Christ's Holy Church from two very important facts: the circumstances of her birth itself and her entry into the Temple and her upbringing therein. And, after the Ascension of the Lord, we know of her repose.

This pure, sacred Church Tradition has been kept as being in complete accord with the spirit and the letter of Sacred Scripture, and has been immovably established in the Church of Christ by the annual festal commemorations on the 8th September (Birth of the All-holy Virgin), 21st November (her Entry into the Temple), and 15th August (Dormition).

V. The Veneration of the Saints as a Foundation for the Veneration of the Virgin Mary
The veneration of the Virgin Mary has a common foundation with the veneration of all the saints, and only occupies first place in this veneration.

1. The Heavenly Life of the saints. This common foundation consists first of all in the fact that, as the Word of God bears testimony, "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for all live unto Him" (Luke 20:38), that is that there are no dead at all with God. Death is only the' separation of the soul from the body, and the soul's life, which enlivened and has left the body, is maintained in God. And holy souls (which immediately after death have reached "the first resurrection" (Rev. 20:5), which is the blessedness of life eternal, even before the second resurrection, that is the resurrection of the body) "are, as the angels of God in the heavens" (Matt. 22:30).

The holy souls and the angels in the heavens, being genuinely alive, hear all and see all that comes to pass on earth; they rejoice with and suffer with, they pray for and beseech on behalf of, the world; they intercede.

"Abraham," our father, says the Saviour, "rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad" (John 8:56). He saw our salvation.

But holy souls in the heavens, and particularly "souls slain for the Word of God" grieve over the triumph of unrighteousness on earth and they thirst for the victory of truth and for God's judgment, praying: "How long, O Master, holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell I on the earth?" (Rev. 6:9-10).

The angels deeply suffer alongside people in their sufferings and they pray for the destiny of whole peoples. "The angel of the Lord ... said: O Lord Pantocrator, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah" (Zach. 1:12). Himself full of kindheartedness towards men, the angel prays to the kindhearted God.

Just how precious each human soul is to the angels, who are so sensitively loving, is apparent from the fact that in the heavens "there is joy among the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth" (Luke 15:10).

"Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones," said the Saviour of the children, "for I say unto you, That in the heavens their angels do always behold the face of My heavenly Father" (Matt. 18:10), that is, children have in their angels their own protectors and intercessors before God. How is it then possible to "despise" children, when even the angels have such concern for them?

The Angels, being "ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them that shall be heirs of salvation" (Heb. 1:14) actually and palpably appear to people when their "prayers are heard and" their "alms had in remembrance before God" (Acts 10:31). They bear testimony to the prayers and almsgiving of people and to the fact that these are acceptable to God. They are mediators between God and man and ministers of God and of the salvation of people.

In the heavens there are representatives of all the saints of the Old and of the New Testaments (the twelve sons of Jacob or tribes of Israel, and the Twelve Apostles), that is, "four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps and golden vials full of perfumes, which are the prayers of the saints" (Rev. 5:8). And "another angel" in the heavens was given "much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense with the prayers of the saints ascended up before God out of the angel's hand" (Rev. 8:3-4).

Are the prayers of these saints, both those in heaven and those on earth, offered up by angels and the elders in heaven to the throne of God? One must realize that the saints that are not yet in heaven, as well as those that are in heaven, also themselves pray before the throne of God. And they [the ones in heaven] not only pray themselves, but they also present to God the prayers of the other saints, which is those that are still on earth. For all Christians are referred as saints, because they are called to holiness (1 Thess. 4:7).

When saints on earth pray, angels and holy people in the heavens offer their prayers to God. And the prayers of those on earth are not carried up to God without the intermediacy of the heavenly saints.

The participation of the saints in the care of people on earth and in their salvation, their living love, the complete compassion are yet only a temporary, median, and incomplete beatitude which exists until the general resurrection and the judgment, only after which they will enjoy the fullness of blessedness and the joy of salvation for themselves and for all those that have been saved.

2. The Earthly Gifts of the Saints in the Heavens. The fact is that the holy inhabitants of Heaven are actually alive; they see, hear, know, feel and respond to all that happens on earth, and this truth contains within another very important fact: that the holy people leave the earth with those very same qualities, skills, and gifts of grace, which they acquired while on earth, and they have lost nothing but their bodies, and the limitations associated therewith. The heavenly gifts of the saints are but a continuation, strengthening and broadening of their earthly gifts.

Thus, to holy people on earth there belongs the gift of the knowledge of that which is hidden and mystical. The holy Prophet Achias [Ahijah], though he was blind, yet knew Jeroboam when he came to him. The Prophet Eliseus [Elisha] knew what Giezi [Gehazi] and the Syrians did, though they were far from him. The holy Apostle Peter discovered what Ananias and Sapphira had concealed (3 [2 Kings 14:4-6; 4 [2 Kings 5:25; 6:8; Acts 5:1-11). Thus it is wholly comprehensible that for the saints in the Heavens this ability is immeasurably extended, and is made theirs from the moment that their souls are separated from their bodies.

The prayer of the righteous for others has a particular significance. "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man ... as we are," and his prayer both stopped the rains and besought rain. The Lord said of job the Righteous: "My servant job shall pray for you, for only his face will I accept" (James 5:16-18; Job 42:8). And this is because "if our heart condemn us not," says the holy Apostle, "then we have confidence toward God, and whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight" (2 John 3:21-22).

Such are the prayers of the holy Apostles for people: "We also pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling," "we do not cease to pray for you and to ask that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will," "and this also we pray for, even your perfection" (2 Thess. 1:11; Col. 1:9; 2 Cor. 13:9).

The holy Apostle says to the Christians on earth: "we do not cease to pray for you." If the prayer of the Apostles on earth was unceasing, how is it possible that it should cease when they are "absent from the body, and present with the Lord"? For, "charity never faileth, but whether there be prophecies they shall fail, whether there be tongues they shall cease, whether there be knowledge it shall vanish away" (Col. 1:9; 2 Cor. 5:8; 1 Cor. 13:8).

If the saints, while on earth, had love for people, and by this love they obtained an earnest of life eternal, then it is apparent that, when they pass over in love "from death into life" (1 John 3:14), they are not deprived of this love for people, but they continue to possess it, or else they would have been deprived of the Kingdom of God itself and would have ceased to experience it. If they had compassion for people on earth, if they had an unremitting desire for their salvation, if they had prayer for them before God; if here they heard and accepted requests for prayer, if they knew the needs and deeds of man, even those which are hidden and secret, and were able to help the people by the power of grace granted them by God and by their holy prayers before God, then they will lose none of these abilities when they are "absent from the body, and present with the Lord." On the contrary, "whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord" and "know in part," yet "when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away" (1 Cor. 13:9-10; 2 Cor. 5:6). In Heaven the saints have the fullness of gifts of grace and knowledge, and are always ready to help, and for this they have greater possibilities than they had while on earth.

It is clear from the undoubted truth of the Word of God that all that a man [spiritually] acquires on earth remains with him, and after his death with his soul, and it serves as an earnest of his future fate and of the blessedness of Paradise itself, and thus that this earthly life is a preparation for the Kingdom of Heaven. Everyone receives in accordance with what he has "done while living in the body, whether it be good or bad" (2 Cor. 5:10). "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap ... he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting" (Gal. 6:7-8). "We have passed from death unto life," says the Apostle, "because we love the brethren." Every one who loves his brother already has eternal life abiding in him, and has already tasted the blessedness of the future life (1 John 3:14-15). Further: "The Kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21).

In this way, the active love instilled into the souls of the saints here on earth abides with them eternally in the Heavens.

Many and various are the gifts of grace of the saints which are so essential for the Church on earth. And as soon as the saints leave "the body to be present with the Lord" (2 Cor. 5:8) they cannot be deprived of and lose these gifts; rather they continue to possess them exclusively unto the profit of the Church on earth, that is, without any change they grant her aid through these very gifts of theirs. As long as the Church exists on earth, it is not possible that the saints should be left without a concern for her, and their gifts have significance only in this.

3. The Earthly and the Heavenly Church. We see that the Church, in both her earthly and heavenly states, is in reality the living Body of Christ, yet it is only a body when all her members, heavenly and earthly, are to be found in full mutual unity and have a living empathy and interaction between each other. If this living and complete bond does not exist between the heavenly and the earthly, the Church is not, and cannot be, the living Body of Christ.

The Word of God confirms that the purpose of Christ's coming was our salvation, that is, that the heavenly and the earthly Church should be united in the one Body of Christ under His one headship. And God "hath gathered together in one the heavenly and the earthly under the head of Christ." Further, God "raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavens." He set Him "far above all ... and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in that which is to come, ... hath set Him above all, as the Head of the Church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all" (Eph. 1:10, 20-23). "God hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth" (Phil. 2:9-10).

With whom we, as members of the earthly Church, are united in the heavens, the Word of God shows in detail. "Ye are come unto Mount Sion and unto the city of the living God, to the heavenly Jerusalem and to the innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly of the Church of the firstborn, which are written in the heavens, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men who have achieved perfection, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling"... (Heb. 12:22-24). And the thousands of angels and the assembly of the firstborn, and the souls of the righteous, who have achieved salvation, are made close to us through Christ, Who "hath redeemed us from this vain age," and exalted us in Himself to this His Kingdom. "For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell, and, having reconciled all things, whether they be earthly or heavenly, to Himself through Him, having made peace through Him, by the blood of His cross" (Col. 1: 9-20). Thus we are made "fellow citizens with the saints and those who are of God" (Eph. 2:19).

In this way, as it is with the members of the heavenly Church, so it is with those of the earthly: "we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another" (Romans 12:5). The heavenly and earthly Church are not separated, together it is the fulness and the one Body of Christ.

It is only with such an organic, full, living understanding of the Church as the living Body of Christ�in which all the members are in living communion, and with the Church, heavenly and earthly, comprising one whole, inseparably bound in Christ, a body wherein the members feel for one another�that the veneration of the All-holy Virgin and all the saints is possible.

4. The Saving Ministry of the Saints. A multitude of holy people of various conditions and callings have been saved in the Church and achieved the Kingdom of God. But the majority of those who have been saved have found salvation through repentance and the forgiveness of their sins, through the virtues of a believing heart, which have enabled them to make their own the blessedness of life eternal and to be known to God, the one Judge of all. And there are in the Church saints, who in saving themselves, greatly ministered unto the salvation of other people: by the example of their lives, their labours, the grace-granted gifts of wonder-working; direction, teaching, and by their powerful prayers to God for people.

"We have many members in one body, and all the members have not the same office." According to the grace granted us, we have different gifts: preaching, ministry, instruction, exhortation, distribution, leadership, beneficence, the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, of faith, healing, wonderworking, prophecy, discernment of spirits, tongues ... (Romans 12:4-8; 1 Cor. 12:4-12). All these are different gifts of one and the same Holy Spirit, Who abides in the Church, unto the profit of the Church.

The Holy Spirit is everywhere present, in every place, and in Him all Heaven, with all the angels, the saints and the All-holy Virgin, are close to us. By the Holy Spirit holy people on earth behold the secret and hidden things, and by Him they see and know everything in heaven. Peace and love, mercy and every grace of help proceed from God alone, as from a spring, and all the saints draw from this spring, being God's ministers.

The holy Apostles were only the instruments of God's power: "God wrought not a few miracles by the hands of Paul," "as testimony unto the word of His grace, He wrought signs and wonders by their hands," "by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people" (Acts 19:11; 14:3: 5:12). Thus does the word of God bear witness to the one glory of God and to His one power, which acts through people who have yielded themselves unto Him as "instruments of righteousness" (Romans 6:13).

The Apostle Peter heals the lame man, and says: "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." And further to the people: "Why marvel ye at this, or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or piety we made this man to walk? ... And His name through faith in His name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is of Him hath given him this healing in the presence of you all" (Acts 3:6, 12, 16).

Besides the Lord Jesus Christ, "there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). And the All-holy Virgin, the holy angels and holy people, both in heaven and on earth, bear witness only to this saving Name, serving Him alone, and from Him only they draw forth everything needful for our salvation.

For a man who is parched and is perishing in a waterless desert, salvation consists only in a spring of water. But if he himself cannot get to that water, and someone else brings it to him, even though the water is essentially his saviour, yet because without its being brought to him he would have perished, he must needs reckon the bringer as his saviour too. Of such a man one can say that he saved you from death, even though without the water he himself could not have been saved, but also the water without such a man conveying it would also not have saved the man's life. Christ in the Holy Spirit is a spring of water for life eternal. In such a way (as above) holy people save us, as ministers of God by the grace-filled gifts of God, by their prayers to God, by their labours for our salvation in Christ. Their every act in God and for God, and from God, is as if from the source of salvation. When the Apostle says, "that I might save some of them" (Romans 11: 14), he means salvation in the name of Christ, and not in his own name. "He (the Apostle) shall tell thee the words by which thou shalt be saved with all thy household" (see Acts 10). He laboured by the grace that was with him (1 Cor. 15:10) for your salvation... And if thus it was from the apostle it was necessary to expect salvation for oneself, nonetheless it was not from any other but from one in Christ, and by no other powers other than those of Christ.

Thus the Lord is the source of water, which alone saves all, the very power of salvation unto life eternal, but of this power the holy Apostles and others, their successors and holy people, perfected in their deeds, are the conveyors, and thus they are shown to be many secondary saviours. There is one Father, one Teacher and Leader, one Saviour and Intercessor and Mediator, even the Lord, but there are also lesser and secondary intercessors and mediators, and fathers, and teachers, and leaders, who are ministers of the One, who are indispensable for the salvation of the people and who are commissioned and appointed by the Lord.

There is a prayerful "intercession of the many" (see 2 Cor. 1:11).

Some "fathers, teachers and leaders" (Matt. 23:5-10) act for their own glory, for human glory, and in their own name (John 7:18; 12:43; 5:43); and there are others�fathers, teachers, and leaders�who act to the glory of God and in the name of Christ (1 Cor. 4:15; 12:28). These last do not do damage to the glory of God, but they serve only that glory and not themselves, and they are glorified by God Himself with His glory. "Them that glorify Me, I will glorify," (1 Kings [Samuel] 2:30). "Father, the glory which Thou gavest Me, I have given them" (John 17:22).

Wherefore, "we bless them which endure" and have them "for an example" for ourselves (James 5:10-11). We must "remember them which have the rule" over us and "follow their faith" (Hebrews 13:7). Such are those holy people who are not on earth but who live in the memory of the members of the Church and never will be forgotten because of their service for the salvation of the people.

But that which they manifested while on earth has ascended with them into heaven and continues to be manifest on earth in those acts of grace-filled aid for the people. And on their ascension into heaven, that glory, which holy people had while on earth, grows even greater thanks to their unbroken granting of help, and the holy Church "glorifies" these saints on earth, commending her faithful sons to their prayers and their grace-filled aid, and calling the faithful to flee unto their help and to working with them the works of our salvation.

5. Prayerful Calling Upon the Saints. It is good to have for oneself the hold, holy prayers of the righteous, of those who have been pleasing unto God and are able to receive everything from God according to their petitions.

Holy people, like "the angels of God in the Heavens," are members with us of the one Body of the Church, they empathize with us, rejoice with us, feel for us; they see everything, they hear everything and they hear our prayers and supplications addressed to them, and they offer up the prayers of the people at the Throne of God. The "vials of incense," which they offer up at the Throne of God, are actually the prayers which had been directed to them with the petition that they make intercession before God. These prayers of the saints (that is, of the elect, of those people or Christians set apart unto God yet still living on earth see Eph. 1:1 and elsewhere), the saints which are in heaven are aware of, that they themselves might offer them up unto God, joined with their own most powerful intercession. Through the saints that are in Heaven, the prayers of the earthly reach God.

If even before the coming of Christ and the glorification of the saints in Him, the Prophet Samuel appeared at the unlawful summons of sinful people and showed that he knew everything about Saul (1 Kgs [1 Samuel] 28:14), how do the holy ones not hear the holy prayers of the people and their petitions for grace-filled spiritual help?

The testimonies of the Word of God have shown us that all those "who are absent from the body are present with the Lord;" that they all abide with God and that they really live, empathizing and working with those on earth, as members of the one body; that the Church is truly the heavenly and earthly living Body of Christ precisely because of this very bond and mutuality between her members; that the spirits of the saints in heaven, which are addressed by us in prayers and glorified in their festival commemorations, both hear and receive our prayers, and that they work with us that live on earth for our salvation through those same prayers, and through the powers and gifts which for our sake they have received from God.

And we bear the names of the saints as a memorial before God: "Remember Abraham Isaac and Israel," "for David's sake" and for the sake of the other saints help us (Ex. 32:13; 3 [1] Kgs 11:12), because "the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous and His ears are open unto their prayers" (1 Peter 3:12).

The Christian can pray, "My God, save me." But in the prayer, "My God, for the sake of the prayers of Thy saints, save me," there is more sincerity, more humility, a depth of feeling and a complete defence against pride creeping in if the prayer is successful, a firm foundation for spiritual advancement. In this way, prayer to God, addressed via the holy God-pleasers, stands nearer, closer, to God, and it throws a bridge over the abyss that exists between God and sinners, it humbles the soul of the sinner himself and invokes upon him the good pleasure of God. In their humility, true Christians do not hope on their own prayers, but on the prayers of the saints, and thus they do not think anything of themselves, and they do not glory in the strength of their own prayers hut in those of the saints, they account themselves nothing, they flee from conceit, and thus they are saved. For this reason the prayer of the true Christian is always seasoned with hoping on the concurrent intercession before God of the saints, especially of those to whom he turns to underpin and support his prayers.

The mediation of the saints not only does not hinder or obscure prayers to God, but it actually surmounts every impediment to prayer to God, it removes all the barriers caused by the sin which disturbs the sinner, and it gives wings to prayer. In praying to the saints, a man does not place his hope only in man and put him in place of God, which would be worthy of the curse (Jer. 17:5), but rather he places all his hope in God alone, Who is close to His holy ones and not to sinners, for again we repeat, "the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous and His ears are open unto their prayers."

VI. The Greatness of the All-Holy Virgin Mary
1. The Virgin Mary and the Angels. The All-holy Virgin Mary is, before God, higher than all the saints of heaven.

God was well-pleased to be a Child and to rest in the womb and in the arms of the Virgin. He exchanged His cherubic throne in the heavens for a new throne on earth: the Virgin. Thus "He Who sitteth upon the Cherubim" (Es. 37:16) made the All-holy Virgin "more honourable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim," because the new nature which He took on was not received from the angels, "but He took on Him the seed of Abraham" (Heb. 2:16) of the All-holy Virgin.

Human nature, taken on by the Son of God, was glorified by the resurrection, the ascension and its session at the right hand of God in Christ (Mark 16:19), and it was raised up and supremely exalted higher than all the angels. This nature in God the angels themselves cannot but worship.

By His incarnation the Lord quickened us, but first of all among all human nature His own Mother. Being found in her, He deified her, and in leaving her, He left her still deified.

Such great grace, as the All-holy Virgin Mary received, no one in the world has ever received nor can receive. Alone among all created beings, she is the most exalted bearer of the "power of the Most High," for the Lord manifested in her the unique and greatest wonder of His condescension to the race of man, the incarnation. And this new creation was in no way less than the first creation of the world and of man itself. And the Virgin became closer to God than the highest of all creation.

Her unity with God did not come about as is the way with all the saints by grace alone, but in a way inherent in the human nature which the Son of God took from her, and in which He Himself abode in the very being of His Divine nature.

Besides this, the Mother of the Lord, while circumventing married life, combined virginity and motherhood in herself. In her the nature of women independently and integrally, or rather chastely, without man and without passion, fulfilled its purpose to give birth to children. Virginity received its crown and highest award; passionlessness likened her to the angels, the bodiless beings, whom all the saints strive to emulate by this virtue. And belief in her conceiving supernaturally, as well as the very passionlessness of her life itself, placed her above nature.

And the one, who was thus first made a "partaker of the Divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4), became higher than the Angels and was made the subject of their wonder, of their reverence and of their glorification. The ministers of God [the angels] cannot but find that this Ministress of God's surpasses them, for they have given God nothing of their nature, and have not been in such a relationship with God as to partake of His Own nature, as she has done.

The nature of mankind was, in God incarnate, placed higher than the angels. This is why the Virgin, from whom He took that nature, has become higher than the angels. Thus "the Mighty One hath done great things" for her.

With particular honour God leads man in the All-holy Virgin up unto Himself and does so before the angels, so that His holy likeness, which had been disfigured by the fallen angels, might be displayed before all the angels in victory, triumphant and saved.

2. The Virgin Mary's Significance in Our Salvation. If not Mary, who first received the salvation of the New Testament, not rejecting it but accepting it with faith? To whose faith are we obliged for our salvation? For whom did this faith of Mary's accept the Saviour? For whom is this faith of Mary's saving, if not for the whole race of man? The faith of each man saves him alone, yet his prayer of faith can help many; but is was a faith offered from all peoples and saving for all mankind which only Mary could offer and which could be offered only by her alone, as being the one who herself ministered at God's incarnation.

The Lord does not save us without our participation, nor does He do it by force. Having granted man freewill, He does not require him to submit to Himself, but He calls, He awaits his conversion, He seeks a voluntary acceptance of salvation. He stands at the door, knocks and waits, that one might hear His voice and open the door to Him, and only then does He enter (Rev. 3:10). Therefore even the very initial act of salvation, the incarnation of the Son of God, was achieved not by the forcible entry of the Holy Spirit and the power of the Most High into the Virgin, but rather through the salutation of the Virgin with the good tidings, through an appeal to her faith, and after she had expressed her voluntary agreement with it. Thus salvation and the incarnation were achieved not only by the fact that God alone desired this, but also by the fact that man himself, in the person of the Virgin Mary, had expressed his consent to this.

In her Christ first of all saved us. And she saves us all in Christ.

In this way, as the salvation of man directly depends on man's will, on the one hand we are obliged to the All-holy Virgin Mary for our salvation, and her significance in the work of our salvation is of the first order and enormous. At the Annunciation, when the Lord knocked, she heard His voice and opened the door for the salvation of all.

3. "All-holy Theotokos, save us." There is no one who served more in Christ in the good work of our salvation than the All-holy Virgin Mary. For this reason the prayerful address, "All-holy Theotokos, save us," always has only one meaning, which is implicit in it, and that is, "save us in Christ, for thou hast already done this, for in Christ thou hast already saved us." She, who has brought us to salvation in Christ, is alone more than worthy among all the saints, to receive the petition and prayerful supplication: "save us."

Because, on behalf of mankind, the Virgin offered everything to God for the salvation of man, so she is a support to man's efforts, and in human perception, which is granted us for our salvation, she is the closest associate in the work of our salvation. After her, through her and with her help, we are raised up to heaven. She is closer than all the saints to people, a mediatrix before God possessing the most praeter-perfect human nature, and one who, out of love for and compassion for people, and for the sake of their salvation, lent flesh and blood to God.

Chosen of all generations, blessed among women, uniquely from amongst all, as one who has obtained grace from God, as the elect bride of the All-holy Spirit, she possesses the most powerful faith among all the sons and daughters of man, and the deepest humility among all; she among all peoples was the most good hearted on account of her love and compassion.

And she dwells with God, living with all her feelings, virtues and powers, ready to help everyone that calls upon her.

At the moment of her Dormition, the All-holy Virgin not only lost nothing of her powers, or of all that she had received from God, but in the power of that supernatural faith, by which all is granted (for "all things are possible to him that believeth"�Mark 9:23), she is the most powerful helper and intercessor for the race of man.

Just as on earth, so also in the heavens the Lord works wonders for the good and salvation of people through the loving mediation of His mother. Neither the Lord, nor the All-holy Virgin lost anything of their capabilities or of their powers in being taken up into heaven from earth. Her mediation, and the miracles which He works through that mediation, can never be cut short.

We are her kinsfolk according to the flesh, her brothers, sisters and children according to the statement of her Son, and we are related to her according to our nature, and through her mediation for us with her Son. And on account of this, her love towards us is that of a kinswoman, close, heartfelt and tender. She feels this more than we do, for she is aware of it even though we are not and cannot comprehend it.

4. The Virgin Mary�an example of making salvation our own. Twice the Lord pointed out that only those blessed people, who like His mother heard the word of God, kept it and fulfilled it (Mark 3:35; Luke 11:28), could be His kinsmen and mothers. And the one, who "kept" all the words of the Lord, "laying" them "up in her heart" (Luke 2:19, 51), the one who "found grace with God" (Luke 1:30) in fulfilling the commandments regarding faith, obedience, humility, selflessness, and love, has been made manifest as an example of making the salvation, which the Lord offered for us, our own.

The making of the salvation of Christ our own begins on earth, actually it originates with the Virgin Mary, who, as Mother of the Saviour, served at His incarnation. From her first of all saving faith and every virtue were offered to God. She received Christ, just as everyone always should receive Him, in her soul, and in her virtues. She is an example of the building up of the human soul, so that it might be the temple and home of God, and she was the first to achieve this. Every soul is a bride of Christ, fore-ordained for its heavenly bridegroom, and like the first bride, the Virgin Mary, it must be well-appointed for the reception of God.

The Most Holy Virgin by faith and through the Holy Spirit received within herself the Word of God, and carried Him within herself and nourished Him. And every soul, called to salvation, receives within itself the word of God, and carries that which has been conceived from faith and through the Holy Spirit, and by the mind and will nourishing it, and by fulfilling it and keeping it, it incarnates Christ within itself and within all its life. Thus it gives birth to Christ in itself, often in the torments of the struggle with sin, it represents Him to itself, likening itself to Him, building itself on Christ. Just as the Church gives birth to every soul in Christ, so every soul gives birth to "an infant of the male sex" (Rev. 12:5), that is to Christ Jesus in itself, and both the one and the other, the soul and the Church, correspond to the Virgin. And in all, the soul gives birth in Christ by the Spirit of God.

The Virgin Mary is an example of bearing God, of communion with God in the moral sense, on account of her faith, humility and every virtue.

5. The Virgin Mary and the Church. The Virgin Mary, as the one who gave God the nature common to mankind and who ministered unto the salvation of all men, is the second Eve, the new mother of all mankind and the intercessor of the whole race of man. The All-holy Virgin has granted the whole race of man rebirth with God.

Christ received a body from the Virgin Mary. And the Church is also the body of Christ. Thus the Church and the Virgin Mary are close in essence and one in nature. For this reason both the Church and the Virgin are called Bride of Christ.

The Virgin Mary is a member of the Old Testament Church; she is the summation and final fruit of that Church and the intercessor for that Church. Thus Christ was incarnated in the Church and from the Church, and thus the Church in the Virgin Mary and through this Virgin, is the Bride and Mother of Christ. For that reason the Church is described as giving birth to Christ (Rev. 12:1-6; Es. 26:18-19).

The Church, the one body of Christ, is a complete, unbreakable union of earthly and heavenly members. In the Virgin Mary, through the descent into her and the abiding in her of the Son of God, there comes about a uniting of the earthly and the heavenly, or the human with the Divine. And for this reason in prayerful supplication to the saints the All-holy Virgin takes first place, for she is the bridge, the link between the earthly Church and the heavenly, in actuality a ladder from earth to heaven, upon which God came down, and on which we ascend. To the Virgin, as to the place where the heavenly was united to the earthly, we most especially resort for help in our ascent from earth to heaven, that is in the work of our salvation.

The Church is the union of people with God. In the Virgin there came about the first and original union of God with man.

Thus it is an undoubted fact that the All-holy Virgin Mary is manifest as the representative and personification of the whole race of man in its entirety, and thereafter, more particularly, of the chosen people of God that is of the Old Testament Church, and finally of the New Testament Church both earthly and heavenly.

The holy Apostle John the Theologian gives this the greatest emphasis. He, one of the Evangelists, proclaims the Saviour's last wish from the Cross concerning his Mother. His charge concerning His Mother has the greatest significance for the holy Apostle John, as expressing a concern not only for her personally.

The Son of God and Son of Mary establishes St John along with Himself as a son of Mary on earth. But just as the Mother of the Lord is manifest as the representative and personification of the Church, His body, then in the same sort St John is manifest as a deputy or proxy for the Lord on earth for His Church. That this is so is clear from the fact that the Lord granted His "Revelation" and gives directions to the seven local Churches and to the fullness of the constitution of the universal Church directly through John. In the Book, "Revelation" or "Apocalypse," there are traced through the Apostle the future courses of the Church of Christ on earth. By this same deputy of Christ in the Church, it is shown that the holy Apostle was made a son of the Virgin Mary by the Lord's direct command. Evidently, "the disciple, whom Jesus loved" (John 21:20) had a special place among the Apostles. Just as His care with respect to His Mother placed a trust on St John, so by His care for the whole Church and the direct transmission of His will concerning her the Lord granted him a special commission. As an analogy of the relationship of the Apostle John to the Mother of the Lord�he is a son of the Church and the Church his mother; but on that son a special commission had been given regarding the Mother, such as could only come from the Son of the Virgin and the actual Head of the Church, Christ, Who is organically bound to her by nature. In view of his special relationship to the Mother of the Lord, St John was also made a special guardian of the Church by the Lord, and it was not in vain that the Lord said of him: "If I will that he tarry till I come" (John 20:22), that is until the Second Coming of the Lord. And in the heavens he remains such a deputy [of the Lord].

In this way, the last concern of the Lord on the Cross for His Mother is a concern for His Church, just as His Mother is a personification and representative of the Church.

Besides this, the holy Apostle John depicts the Church in "Revelation" in the form of a Woman, who has recently given birth, just as the All-holy Virgin Mary gave birth to a Son.

In the twelfth chapter, he depicts the Church of Christ in the image of a woman, "clothed in the sun, under her feet the moon, and on her head a crown of twelve stars." The image of a woman, of a bride, of a virgin, and the image of a man or a bridegroom are the usual images for the Church and for God or Christ in the Sacred Scriptures of both the Old and new Testaments (Es. 54:5; 65:5; Jer. 31:4; 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:25-32; Rev. 19:7; 21:2, 9). Here then, at the close of church history and at the end of the world, the glorious Church is found in the grievous torment of giving birth to her people in Christ (Gal. 4:19) for the life of the age to come. And as at the birth of Christ Himself, the devil chased Him in the figure of Herod, so now "the dragon stood before the woman, when she was about to give birth, for to devour her Infant." And then "she brought forth a man Child, Who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up unto God, and to His throne." And now, in this image, the churchly people of God, which rules over all peoples, will be caught up to the throne of God. The woman, the bride of the Lamb, represents the earthly and the heavenly Church together, the holy city of God (21:9). In the image of the woman, the Mother of the Lord, St John depicts the Church; and in the image of the Church of the last times he depicts the All-holy Virgin.

This is what the holy Apostle John made of his closeness to the Mother of his Lord, who became according to the Lord's desire his own mother. As her faithful son, he was not able to speak of her personally because of her humility, other than speaking in imagery and in a veiled way in his book.

The veneration of the All-holy Virgin, savingly, factually, in actuality, is the authentic confession of the Church, which is the one, heavenly-earthly, living body of Christ. To revere the All-holy Virgin means actually to abide in the body of the Church of Christ: not to separate the heavenly Church from the earthly, to have a bond with heaven, to confess the true Church, in which all the members compassionate for and work for one another, in reality. Veneration of the All-holy Virgin is the preeminent confession of the unity of the Church, as the heavenly-earthly body of Christ and of one's own communion with the heavenly Kingdom.

6. The Glorification of the Virgin Mary. Only one who recognizes the "greatness" of the All-holy Virgin, "which the Mighty One hath done" to her could "call her blessed" [see Magnificat].

If the Lord has done great things for her, then we must recognize this greatness, be aware of it and in turn confess it, and we must glorify both Him, Who gave this greatness, and the one to whom He gave it, and all the more so in that she to whom He gave this greatness had truthfully foretold that they would glorify her for that greatness.

That greatness consists in the fact that the Lord, wishing to be incarnate "looked upon the lowliness" of her, that is on the spiritual perfection of the Virgin, and was incarnate precisely of her. He did "great things" for her by His incarnation and through the glory that this has among the peoples. By humility, as one who flees glory, by remaining unknown and making oneself nothing�things which seemingly contradict "being called blessed of all generations"�in these things the glorification consists. Thus did the All-holy Virgin herself explain the term "called blessed," saying "He hath looked upon the lowliness of His handmaiden; for behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed" (Luke 1:48).

"To call blessed" (Luke 1:48)�In Greek makarizo,�to bless, to consider blessed, which means also to glorify.

"All generations shall call me blessed." The veneration of the All-holy Virgin will live throughout all generations and tribes, not just for a day but perpetually, and not just in such a way that all bless her and she does not hear this, not at all, the perpetual blessing will impart unto her joy like unto the joy that the original cause of her blessedness, the incarnation of God the Word, imparted unto her. Concerning the incarnation of the Son of God she will rejoice eternally. This is joy in the glory of God.

Once she received the angelic greeting: "Rejoice, Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee," and she cried out, "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour." The all-holy Virgin now abides in the eternal joy of paradise with God, and neither previously nor after this is there any greater joy for her, than the people's repetition for her of the angelic salutation. At this greeting she responds and hastens with goodwill and mercy. The Virgin Mary has been lifted up to heaven in Joy and to our aid.

VII. The History of the Veneration of the Virgin Mary
In the Sacred Scriptures there is only recorded as much as is absolutely necessary, for they were written by the Holy Spirit through members of the Church, the holy Apostles, and for the Church; they remain and are preserved only in the Church, and in the Church there eternally abides the Holy Spirit Which leads us into all truth, and for that reason it is the Church that is "the pillar and ground of truth" (1 Jn 2:20; 2 Cor. 3:31; 1 Tim. 3:15).

Thus what is recorded about the All-holy Virgin in the Sacred Scriptures was fully sufficient until the pouring out of the Holy Spirit in the Church, which revealed everything concerning her in its fulness and in all its details. And the Holy Spirit disposes all things in the Church for the salvation of the people, and revealing in its fulness the significance of our salvation, He "ordained" that the Church venerate the All-holy Virgin, recognize her "great things" [see Luke 1:49] and her part in our salvation, and her grace-filled and prayerful aid for us in this work [of salvation].

According to the letter, there is little written in the Word of God about the All-holy Virgin Mary, but according to the spirit and its significance for those who are "ministers of the New Testament, not of the letter, but of the spirit" (2 Cor 3:6), sufficiently much is written. One must attribute significance to every word of Scripture, for every word is eternal, and there is nothing in any word that is fortuitous or superfluous, and, under the illumination of the Church by the Holy Spirit, the meaning and spirit of each and every word is manifest as immeasurably great and true.

How the holy Apostles reverenced the All-holy Virgin is witnessed by the Word of God. The holy Apostles, who themselves wrote the Scriptures of the New Testament, knew that "the Mighty One" had "done great things" to the Virgin Mary, and that she was to be "blessed" or glorified by "all generations." They themselves saw her moral character and the "blessedness" of her "that believed, that there should be a performance of those things which were told her of Lord;" they themselves observed "the lowliness" of the "handmaiden" of God, upon which "the Lord looked." And they honoured her as "blessed among women," for she had prevailed on her Son to work His first miracle, and so had brought them, the Apostles, to faith in Him! She was the senior and head among them with regard to faith and according to all the good works of salvation. Having taken hold of her words that "all generations shall call me blessed" they were the first and could not but reverence and glorify her. She was warmly loved by her Divine Son and was given as mother to the beloved disciple and was thus made a warmly loving mother of all of them, the holy Apostles, binding them into one family, bound by the bond of love. The holy Apostles knew that when she was with them in this life she continued "in prayers and supplication" and aided them by her prayers, that she had not lost this gift at her transfer to the heavens, to the Lord, and that there too she helps them. Only with the words, "Rejoice, full of grace!" could they greet her in this life, and so they hymn her after her dormition. They could not do in life, other than how they had written.

The details of the holy Apostles' reverent disposition, and that of the original Christian community, to the All-holy Virgin are hidden, and for no other cause than because of the humility of the Virgin.

True humility strives to hide itself in obscurity. The disposition of women was by preference modest, and enjoying any glory among the community was alien to them. Humility, as an essential mark of the All-holy Virgin's character, is exclusively stressed by the holy Apostles and Evangelists. The Lord "looked upon the lowliness of His handmaiden" in her youth, even before His incarnation. But what transpired with regard to the lowliness [humility] of the Virgin after the Nativity?

See, she was made the dwelling-place of God. The Power of God came to that which could receive It and could become the bush which burned with the fire of the Divinity and was not itself burnt. She met with God face to Face and remained alive. And if one only considers and presents clearly to oneself how God might abide in one and be borne in oneself on earth, just as the All-holy Virgin bore and bears the All-Sovereign of all creation, then one would be filled with horror, and from such "great things" might fall into the great abyss of humility and in the unbearable abasement cry out with Peter the Apostle: "Depart from me, O Lord! for I am a sinful man" (Luke 5:8). Such a thing would be simply unbearable. Lest it be destroyed, the pure and holy cannot be touched, even to the very least degree, to the sin that darkens. But the All-holy Virgin received within herself this same unbearable fire of the Godhead. And it is completely comprehensible to every mortal, that humility can grow from great things according to the measure of those great things. Wherefore, after the Nativity, the All-holy Virgin became a thousand times more profound in her humility than before the Nativity; she grew therein so that she might preserve the Grace, which she had "found" with God in the days of her youth.

If the Lord forbade people to speak about Him (Matt. 9:31; Mark 7:36), so not desiring to become known and not receiving glory from men (John 7:3; 5:41), then how could His holy Mother direct the Apostles to glorify her and say more than she herself had allowed them to report?

But the Lord said of Himself. "If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto Me." "This He said, signifying what death He should He die" (John 12:32-33). Being glorified on earth, having completed His work, and particularly after death, He drew them to Himself when He granted people remission of sins and opened the doors of Paradise.

And there can be no other regard for the All-holy Virgin than that of the Church of Christ. Although she spent her time in humility, this does not mean hat she should not be glorified. Although she was concealed in obscurity, it is not impossible to find her. Although she was strictly silent about herself, yet guided by the Holy Spirit, we can come to appreciate her greatness, which was ranted her from the Lord, and to bless her. "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted" (Luke 14:11).

Such was the honour accorded the All-holy Virgin in the first, Apostolic age after the Nativity of Christ, as is delineated by the exalted words and characteristics of the Sacred Scriptures themselves. The humility of the Virgin hen living on earth enshrines this reverence due her.

The honour accorded the All-holy Virgin, which is already recorded in the words of the Apostles- Evangelists, gradually spread in the second century. The holy Martyr Justin the Philosopher, Tertullian, and St Irenaeus of Lyons magnify the All-holy Virgin Mary; they recognize her significance for all mankind as the second Eve. Most importantly they witness the saving significance of her ministry: through Mary "disobedience was made strengthless," that which was being led away to destruction was by her "brought to salvation," "the sin of the one was bathed in the good of the other," "mankind was saved through the Virgin," the Virgin "through her obedience became a cause of salvation for herself and for the whole race of man." This is what they say of her, these men of the second century. Comparison of Mary with Eve according to the word of God and deducing the saving significance of her ministry for the race of man had Apostolic authority, for the Apostles saw in Christ the second Adam. Fittingly Saint Irenaeus was, according to Papias of Hierapolis, the disciple of the holy Apostle John the Theologian.

In the third century, Origen, Saint Gregory the Wonderworker and the holy Martyr Methodius of Patara commemorate the "blessedness" of the All-holy Virgin as her glorification. In the brief reference that "all those in whom Christ lives are sons of Mary", Origen accounts her the Mother of all Christians. Then Saint Gregory cannot find any "like her in all generations," he sees in her "the whole treasury of graces," he marvelled at "her spiritual virtues," and most importantly, he believes that she "delights the souls that glorify her." But Saint Methodius says directly: "We pray thee, most exalted of all and one deemed worthy of maternal honour and boldness, do thou constantly remember, O All-holy Theotokos, us who praise thee and with reverent doxologies honour thine ever-living and indefaceable memory. And thou, Elder Simeon worthy of honour, also an intercessor for our race before God the Saviour...."

In the fourth century, amidst the quantity of testimonies we have concerning the worthiness of the All-holy Virgin, as being the Mother of Life, a Prophetess, Ever-Virgin and sinless, Saint Gregory the Theologian's testimony concerning the holy Martyr Justina is extraordinarily important; therein the martyr, being stalked by a certain pagan, called upon the aid of the holy Virgin Mary to protect her virginity, with the result that this pagan was converted to Christ and subsequently they both received martyric deaths. And Saint Gregory of Nyssa tells of a vision of Saint Gregory the Wonderworker in which the holy Apostle John the Theologian fulfilled the assignment of the Lord's Mother. Both Gregories speak of this as being something which happened a century before them. Saint Epiphanius of Cyprus, confirming the honour accorded the All-holy Virgin as "the Mother of Life and of all the living," in his time fought against some Mary-worshipping heretics, the "Lappiditrians," who used to offer the Virgin Mary a kind of shortbread in the form of a sacrifice and "attempted to establish her in place of God." "Mary is not God," he said, "We must honour Mary. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit we must render worship, but no one must worship Mary."

In the fifth, century, Saint Cyril of Alexandria highly glorified the Virgin Mary, as did Saint Peter Chrysologus and Saint Proclus. "There is nothing in the world that can compare with the Theotokos"�we can use these words of Saint Proclus to characterize the veneration of the Virgin Mary of the Fathers of this century. We can trace the naming of the All-holy Virgin as Theotokos ["she who gave birth to God"�ed.] back to the third century to the persons of Origen and Saint Methodius. But it was in the fifth century, in 431, at the Third �cumenical Council in Ephesus, that this title that had derived from antiquity was confirmed by the universal voice of the Church, itself directed by the Holy Spirit, as exactly expressing the dogma concerning the one Divine Person of the Son of God in two natures: Divine and human. The Son of God was born before the ages of the Father according to His Divinity, and in these last days was born of Mary the Virgin according to His human nature, being in two natures one and the same God. In one Divine Person two natures are conjoined, and for that reason the All-holy Virgin gave birth to God and not just a man; she gave birth to God, although in His human nature.

This most holy dogma, which is called the "refutation" of the heretics, those who distort the teaching concerning our salvation in Christ, when speaking of the Son of God and naturally this inevitably touches upon His mother. But in speaking of Him, to Whom the All-holy Virgin gave birth according to His humanity, the Council proclaimed that she is actually the Theotokos, as until that time the whole Church had believed, except for the heretics who attempted to name her "Christotokos." The glory of the All-holy Theotokos is completely bound up with the glory of her Son and God; and inasmuch as one glorifies the Lord and His saving incarnation, one must also glorify her.

Thus the holy Church honoured and "called blessed" the All-holy Virgin Theotokos uninterruptedly from the days of the Apostles for the course of five centuries.

In the second, third and fourth centuries, the holy Church honoured the All-holy Theotokos in exactly the same way as she does today. All the existing evidences of this veneration, data from the very first century, from the Apostles in the Gospels, reveals this as a most widespread and established practice. Saint Justin in the East, Tertullian in Africa, St Irenaeus in Gaul, St Methodius in Asia Minor, as well as Saint Ephraim on the banks of the Euphrates, speak of the [veneration of the] All-holy Virgin not as something new for their particular local church, but as something recognized and they speak of her as honoured by all. They speak of what had been previous to them and the situation in their own time regarding their local confessions.

However, the Holy Fathers only wrote about the necessities that arose in their time, about their circumstances, and about the questions that arose; they did not set forth systematically all that concerned the teaching, the practice and the life of the Church of their period, yet they had much to say about this [the veneration of the Mother of God] in speaking of other things, incidentally, in fragments and in separate phrases.

The voice of the �cumenical Church, at the Third �cumenical Council, only gave expression to the veneration of the Mother of God, which had been normative and established of old in the Church, by defining the Virgin as Theotokos. But for this to be said and for it to express the generally held opinion, it was necessary that in all the preceding centuries and in the life contemporary with the Council, there should have been a corresponding universally held confession. And it is just such a confession in the greatness of the All-holy Virgin, in her heavenly glory and in her prayerful and grace-filled heavenly power that the Church has always held, as the works of the holy Fathers of the Church of the first centuries of Christianity demonstrate.

Endnotes in the Russian text
[1] The name "Joachim" is related to "Eliakim" (2 Kings 23:34), which can be rendered as "Eli," which explains the use of this name by the holy Evangelist Luke (3:24). The Talmud also refers to the All-holy Virgin as "the daughter of Eli," which apparently was the modified form of the name Joachim. The names, Joachim and Anna, themselves not only derive from apocrypha which are heretical, but also from Saint Epiphanius of Cyprus (Haer. 48), and are reproduced by Saint John of Damascus (De Orth. Fid. 40). In the ancient catacombs there is found a depictions of St Anna with a reference to her name and that she is the mother of the All-holy Virgin. The Emperor Justinian dedicated a newly built church to them in 550 A.D. (Witness: the English docent, Blunt. I H. Blunt, Dictionary of Doctrinal and Historical Theology, London 1892, p. 441).

[2] That the All-holy Virgin remained unhusbanded [i.e. a virgin�ed.] forever is perfectly apparent from her question: "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" This question would have been misplaced, if it was generally possible that she would enter into a marriage with Joseph. She said nothing about this. Although she was "betrothed to a man" (Luke 1:27), in reality there was no possibility of her marrying Joseph. This question had already been decided: if she was already betrothed, it would normally have been possible to be married in the shortest possible time, and yet she says, "I know not a man." Joseph was not her husband, and could not be such. The betrothal itself was only for the securing of her remaining unmarried forever, and was actually for the protection of Mary's virginity. Joseph was not only not contemplated as a husband; she did not even think of him or of the possibility of a quick marriage, such as would normally follow a betrothal. But there was no husband, and entering into a marriage was ruled out completely. She was betrothed to the elder Joseph and already destined to perpetual virginity. And Mary, of course, knew why she had been given over to the Temple, that she had been dedicated to God by her parents and had been born after they had given a vow regarding her dedication to God. The future mother of the Lord could not violate this dedication. And she remained a virgin both before and at the Nativity of her Son. Perceiving her to be with child, the righteous Joseph "was minded to put her away privily," not wishing to subject her to the condemnation of society, but being warned of an angel, he left the Virgin alone and decided to be called the husband of Mary and the father of her Son, although in reality neither of these things had ever been so.

And after the Nativity of her Son, Mary remained a virgin in the strength of that dedication of hers from infancy, and of her betrothal to the husband-guardian of her virginity, and in the strength of the present dedication [i.e. at the Annunciation�ed.] and of her being chosen, which thing excelled nature, at the Birth of Christ. This last was a strengthening for the unwedded Mary and for Joseph.

The Word of God shows that the Son Who was born, her "firstborn," was also the last and only Son of those parents, who had been foretold of His birth from on high, through the angels: thus Sarah had home Isaac her only son (Gen. 18), the wife of Manoe had borne Sampson (Judges 13), and so Elizabeth bore John the Baptist (Luke 1). In other instances, however, without any special embassy from heaven, women who at first were barren, by God's mercy, then had issue of two or more children (Rebecca, Rachel, Hannah the mother of Samuel). A great and heavenly visitation cuts across lawful marital bonds. So much the more with the All-holy Virgin, who after giving birth, just as before the Birth and at the Birth, remained a virgin. The prophecy concerning the Incarnation of God was fulfilled in her: "this gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the Lord, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut" (Ezekiel 44:2).

In the Word of God, the Virgin Mary is everywhere called "the Mother of Jesus," "His Mother" (John 19:25; Acts 1:14) and nobody else's mother. There was another Mary, "the mother of James the Less and Josias" (Mark 15:40; Luke 24: 10), who are called His brethren (Mark 6:3) because of the kinship of the two mothers. This was as cousins apparently; "the sister of His mother, Maria the wife of Cleopas" (John 19:25) was the mother of the second cousins of Jesus [in Russian, third-born brothers�trans.], who had lived with Him in Nazareth. (Webmaster note: For more on the ever-virginity of Mary see "Why Is Mary Considered Ever-Virgin?"

From The Shepherd. This is an ongoing series that began in August 1997. The number of future installments is unknown. Updates to this article will be announced on the What�s New page. For further reading we recommend the following definitive work on the Mother of God: The Life of the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos (Buena Vista, CO: Holy Apostles Convent, 1989), 615 pages.
Why is Mary Considered Ever-Virgin?


A Protestant inquirer recently wrote the Orthodox Christian Information Center to ask why it is a dogma of the Orthodox Church that the Blessed Virgin Mary is ever-virgin. This page was compiled as a response.

Two dogmas concerning the Mother of God are bound up, in closest fashion, with the dogma of God the Words becoming man. They are: a) Her Ever-virginity, and b) Her name of Theotokos. They procede immediately from the dogma of the unity of the Hypostasis of the Lord from the moment of His Incarnation-the Divine Hypostasis.

The birth of the Lord Jesus Christ from a Virgin is testified to directly and deliberately by two Evangelists, Matthew and Luke. This dogma was entered into the Symbol of Faith of the First Ecumenical Council, where we read: Who for the sake of us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man. The Ever- virginity of the Mother of God is testified by Her own words, handed down in the Gospel, where she expressed awareness of the immeasurable majesty and height of Her chosenness: My soul doth magnify the Lord... For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed... For He that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is His Name (Luke 1:46-49).

The Most Holy Virgin preserved in her memory and in her heart both the announcement of the Archangel Gabriel and the inspired words of righteous Elizabeth when she was visited by Mary: And whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to Me? (Luke 1:43); both the prophecy of the righteous Symeon on meeting the Infant Jesus in the Temple, and the prophecy of the righteous Anna on the same day (Luke 2:25-38). In connection with the account of the shepherds of Bethlehem concerning the words of the angels to them, and of the singing of the angels, the Evangelist adds: But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2:19). The same Evangelist, having told of the conversation of the Divine Mother with the twelve-year-old Jesus after their visit to Jerusalem on the Feast of Pascha, ends his account with the words: But His mother kept all these sayings in her heart (Luke 2:51). The Evangelists speak also of the understanding of the majesty of her service in the world by the righteous Joseph, her espoused husband, whose actions were many times guided by an angel.

When the heretics and simple blasphemers refuse to acknowledge the Ever-virginity of the Mother of God on the grounds that the Evangelists mention the "brothers and sisters of Jesus," they are refuted by the following facts from the Gospel:

a) In the Gospels there are named four "brothers" (James, Joses, Simon and Jude), and there are also mentioned the "sisters" of Jesus�no fewer than three, as is evident in the words: and His sisters, are they not ALL with us? (Matt. 13:56).

On the other hand, b) in the account of the journey to Jerusalem of the twelve-year-old boy Jesus, where there is mention of the "kinsfolk and acquaintances" (Luke 2:44) in the midst of whom they were seeking Jesus, and where it is likewise mentioned that Mary and Joseph every year journeyed from faraway Galilee to Jerusalem, no reason is given to think that there were present other younger children with Mary: it was thus that the first twelve years of the Lord's earthly life proceeded.

c) When, about twenty years after the above-mentioned journey, Mary stood at the cross of the Lord, she was alone, and she was entrusted by her Divine Son to His disciple John; and from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home (John 19:27). Evidently, as the ancient Christians also understood it, the Evangelists speak either of "half' brothers and sisters or of cousins.

*From Fr. Michael Pomazansky, trans. Fr. Seraphim Rose, Orthodox Dogmatic Theology (Platina, CA: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1994), pp. 187-189.

+ + +
The seedless birth of Christ can and could be denied only by those who deny the Gospel, whereas the Church of Christ from of old confesses Christ incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary." But the birth of God from the Ever-Virgin was a stumbling stone for those who wished to call themselves Christians but did not wish to humble themselves in mind and be zealous for purity of life. The pure life of Mary was a reproach for those who were impure also in their thoughts. So as to show themselves Christians, they did not dare to deny that Christ was born of a Virgin, but they began to affirm that Mary remained a virgin only until she brought forth her first-born son, Jesus (Matt. 1:25).

"After the birth of Jesus," said the false teacher Helvidius in the 4th century, and likewise many others before and after him, "Mary entered into conjugal life with Joseph and had from him children, who are called in the Gospels the brothers and sisters of Christ." But the word "until" does not signify that Mary remained a virgin only until a certain time. The word "until" and words similar to it often signify eternity. In the Sacred Scripture it is said of Christ: In His days shall shine forth righteousness and an abundance of peace, until the moon be taken away (Ps. 71:7), but this does not mean that when there shall no longer be a moon at the end of the world, God's righteousness shall no longer be; precisely then, rather, will it triumph. And what does it mean when it says: For He must reign, until He hath put all enemies under His feet? (I Cor. 15:25). Is the Lord then to reign only for the time until His enemies shall be under His feet?! And David, in the fourth Psalm of the Ascents says: As the eyes of the handmaid look unto the hands of her mistress, so do our eyes look unto the Lord our God, until He take pity on us (Ps. 122:2). Thus, the Prophet will have his eyes toward the Lord until he obtains mercy, but having obtained it he will direct them to the earth? (Blessed Jerome, "On the Ever-Virginity of Blessed Mary.") The Saviour in the Gospel says to the Apostles (Matt. 28:20): Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Thus, after the end of the world the Lord will step away from His disciples, and then, when they shall judge the twelve tribes of Israel upon twelve thrones, they will not have the promised communion with the Lord? (Blessed Jerome, op. cit.)

It is likewise incorrect to think that the brothers and sisters of Christ were the children of His Most Holy Mother. The names of "brother" and "sister" have several distinct meanings. Signifying a certain kinship between people or their spiritual closeness, these words are used sometimes in a broader, and sometimes in a narrower sense. In any case, people are called brothers or sisters if they have a common father and mother, or only a common father or mother; or even if they have different fathers and mothers, if their parents later (having become widowed) have entered into marriage (stepbrothers); or if their parents are bound by close degrees of kinship.

In the Gospel it can nowhere be seen that those who are called there the brothers of Jesus were or were considered the children of His Mother. On the contrary, it was known that James and others were the sons of Joseph, the Betrothed of Mary, who was a widower with children from his first wife. (St. Epiphanius of Cyprus, Panarion, 78.) Likewise, the sister of His Mother, Mary the wife of Cleopas, who stood with Her at the Cross of the Lord (John 19:25), also had children, who in view of such close kinship with full right could also be called brothers of the Lord. That the so-called brothers and sisters of the Lord were not the children of His Mother is clearly evident from the fact that the Lord entrusted His Mother before His death to His beloved disciple John. Why should He do this if She had other children besides Him? They themselves would have taken care of Her. The sons of Joseph, the supposed father of Jesus, did not consider themselves obliged to take care of one they regarded as their stepmother, or at least did not have for Her such love as blood children have for parents, and such as the adopted John had for Her.

Thus, a careful study of Sacred Scripture reveals with complete clarity the insubstantiality of the objections against the Ever-Virginity of Mary and puts to shame those who teach differently.

*From St. John (Maxomovitch), The Orthodox Veneration of Mary, The Birthgiver of God (Platina, CA: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1994), pp. 31-33.

+ + +
The following was sent to me by Deacon Fr. John Whiteford. It is part of an exchange he had with another Protestant inquirer:

In response to appeals to Matthew 1:25:

First of all we must remember that the Bible was not written in English. The word translated "TILL" in this verse is the same word translated "UNTIL" (or "unto" in the KJV) in Matthew 28:20: "...And behold I am with you always, even UNTIL the end of the age."

Following your logic, we would have to assume that this teaches that after the end of the age Christ will no longer be with us. Also even in English, when we say "Joe did not repent TILL the day he died"�obviously he did not repent afterwards either.

The point of the verse you have cited is plain. It leaves no room for doubting that Christ was not the result of relations between the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph�it says nothing about what happened thereafter, one way or the other.

St. Jerome wrote a very detailed treatise on this subject that one can find in several readily available translations�it is titled "The Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary".

Not only was this view held universally in the Early Church, but the Early Reformers all believed it as well. John Wesley did too.

By the way, where in the NT does it say that the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph ever moved beyond betrothal? The Bible speaks of St. Joseph's "espoused" wife�but never mentions anything beyond it.

You Baptists are likely not familiar with the rite of betrothal, but the Traditional understanding thereof is that a betrothal gives a couple all the responsibilities of marriage, but none of the privileges. Once betrothed, one can only break the betrothal with a divorce. Nevertheless, the couple were not permitted to have marital relations until after the marriage ceremony.

In response to the question of whether or not this doctrine only brings glory to the Virgin Mary, and not to God:

This doctrine is not taught for the sake of upholding the sanctity of the Virgin Mary, but because of the uniqueness and holiness of her Son. Consider the following verse:

"Then said the LORD unto me; This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the LORD, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut." (Ezekiel 44:2).

This has always been interpreted by the Fathers of the Church to be a typological reference to the Virgin Mary and the Incarnation. When we consider that God took flesh from the Virgin's womb, it is not difficult to imagine that this womb would remain virgin.

The bottom line is this has been the consistent and universal view of the Church from the time of the Apostles until today.

This does not mean that sex is dirty, though the Apostles taught that it was better to remain in virginity�though only those who can accept such a life are called to do so. Certainly some are called to this life, and it is blessed by God.

Why then did the Virgin need St. Joseph? That question is valid even if one believes she had other children later�why did she need St. Joseph to give birth to Christ. The answer is obvious: virgins do not as a rule give birth, and Christ would likely have grown up an orphan had he been born to a single mother.

You ask: "So then was Jesus born out of wedlock? Why then did they travel together to be taxed? Why does Luke write Luke 2:48 �And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.�?"

I could ask you the same questions: Why does she refer to Joseph as Christ's Father? Obviously not because he really was his father. Why did they travel together to be taxed when they were clearly only at that time "espoused" or betrothed: "To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child (Luke 2:5). Do you think they were married on the way to Bethlehem, because they clearly were not when they set off in that direction? Furthermore there is no mention of such a marriage ever having taken place�and certainly it would be odd for them to have had such a ceremony with a women "great with child" or even thereafter with a women who had a nursing baby. As I stated, a betrothal gives one all the responsibilities of a marriage without the marital privileges thereof. It can only be broken by a divorce�so in a sense they were married when they were betrothed.

In the Orthodox Church we still have the rite of betrothal, but because it is so serious�and is considered a marriage even if never consummated�it is almost always done these days immediately prior to the wedding ceremony.

You said: "Mary had other children. James is called The Lord's brother. The brothers and sisters who came for Jesus while he was teaching are not cousins as catholic footnotes try to make out, like there is no Greek word for brother."

Do you really believe that the Virgin Mary had another sister from the same parents who was also named Mary (John 19:25)? Also, if these brothers were the children of St. Joseph's brother Cleopas (as the second century Palestinian Christian history Hegessipus records), and if as St. Jerome contends Cleopas had reposed and St. Joseph had taken his brothers widow and children under his care (as was Jewish custom) then these children would of course be called brothers and sisters of our Lord.

Also, I will again point out that the Bible only refers to the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph as being "betrothed" or "espoused". Unless they were subsequently married, they had all the responsibilities of marriage, but would have sinned to have had marital relations with one another. It is clear from the Gospels that they were still only betrothed when they left Nazareth and when the Virgin was "Great with child". Do you suppose they could have gotten married at some point after that without being stoned to death first?

You said: "There's no need to be that specific. Can't it be understood from several Scripture passages (John 2:12; Matthew 12:46; Mark 3:31; Luke 8:19; especially Matthew 13:55,56 and Mark 6:3,4; etc.) that what's referred to are Mary and Joseph's offsprings?"

How do you deal with the Mary who is not Christ's mother but who also just happens to be the Virgin Mary's sister and who happens to have kids with the same names as Christ's brothers? How do you deal with the very early testimony of Hegesippus who states plainly that the brethren of the Lord were the Children of St. Joseph's brother Cleopas and his wife Mary?"

See: Matt 27:56, Mark 15:40, 16:1; Luke 24:10; John 19:25 The Matthew account has Mary the mother of James and Joseph. Mark has Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses. John has "his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas". All accounts mention Mary Magdalene separately and Matthew mentions the mother of the sons of Zebedee (who could not also be married to Clopas). This suggests that Mary the wife of Clopas, who is Mary's sister, is the mother of James and Joses, etc.

[Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History 3:11] "After the martyrdom of James and the conquest of Jerusalem which immediately followed, it is said that those of the apostles and the disciples of the Lord that were still living came together from all directions, with those that were related to the Lord according to the flesh (for the majority of them also were still alive), to take counsel as to who was worthy to succeed James. They all with once consent pronounced Symeon, the Son of Cleopas, of whom the Gospel also makes mention [note the Gospels only list Symeon as one of the Brother's of the Lord], to be worthy of the episcopal throne of that parish. He was a cousin, as they say, of the Savior. For Hegesippus records that Cleopas was a brother of Joseph." [note: Hegesippus was a 2nd Century Palestinian Jew. Eusebius preserves one of the few fragments left of his works, since he had access to the great library of Ceasarea and of Alexandria�the contents of which were mostly lost later.]

A few additional points on this subject:

1) The Apostle James, the Son of Alpheaus is not necessarily the same as James the less. They are not connected in the Gospels, though this connection is possible. James the less was the son of Cleopas, but as I have read up on this, it is possible that "Cleopas" is a variant helenized transliteration of the Aramaic name "Chalphi".

2) Yesterday I quoted from Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History in which a fragment from St. Hegesippus was preserved. As I dug about last night, I found some more:

"Some of these heretics, forsooth, laid an information against Symeon the son of Clopas, as being of the family of David, and a Christian. And on these charges he suffered martrydom when he was 120 years old, in the reign of Trajan Caesar, when Atticus was Consular legate in Syria. And it so happened, says the same writer, that, while inquiry was then being made for those belonging to the royal tribe of the Jews, the accusers themselves were convicted of belonging to it. With show of reason it could be said that Symeon was one of those who actually saw and heard the Lord, on the ground of his great age, and also because the Scripture of the Gospels makes mention of Mary the [wife] of Clopas, who, as our narrative has shown already, was his father. The same historian mentions others also, of the family of one of the reputed brothers of the Savior, named Judas, as having survived until this same reign, after the testimony they bore for the faith of Christ in the time of Domitian, as already recorded. He writes as follows: They came, then, and took the presidency of every church, as witnesses for Christ, and as being of the kindred of the Lord. And after profound peace had been established in every church they remained down to the reign of Trajan Caesar: that is, until the time then he who was sprung from an uncle of the Lord, the aforementioned Symeon son of Clopas, was informed against by various heresies, and subjected to an accusation like the rest, and for the same cause, before the legate Atticus; and while suffering outrage during many days, he bore testimony for Christ: so that all, including the legate himself were astonished above measure that a man 120 years old should have been able to endure such torments. He was finally condemned to be crucified...." [St. Hegesippus [who reposed 170 ad], Fragments from his five books of commentaries on the acts of the Church, Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 8, p 762]

See also:

St. John Chrysostom, Homily 5 on St. Matthew's Gospel

St. Gregory of Nyssa, On Virginity

The texts for the Feast of the Dormition and the Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos in the Festal Menaion (St. Tikhon Seminary Press). This is a treasure of Orthodox dogmatic theology. If one wants to know what the Orthodox Church teaches on a number of dogmatic issues, a proper understanding can only be had by consulting the liturgical texts of the Church. In a very real way, Orthodox chant their theology. As Bishop Kallistos has written: "Certain doctrines, never formally defined, are yet held by the Church with an unmistakable inner conviction, an unruffled unanimity, which is just as binding as an explicit formulation. 'Some things we have from written teaching,' said St. Basil, 'others we have received from the Apostolic Tradition handed down to us in a mystery; and both these things have the same force for piety.' [On the Holy Spirit, xvii, 66] This inner Tradition 'handed down to us in a mystery' is preserved above all in the Church's worship. Lex orandi lex credendi: our faith is expressed in our prayer. Orthodoxy has made few explicit definitions about the Eucharist and the other Sacraments, about the next world, the Mother of God, the saints, and the faithful departed: our belief on these points is contained mainly in the prayers and hymns used at services." (The Orthodox Church, [Penguin Books, 1993] pp. 204-5).

Book Review: The Winter Pascha: Readings for the Christmas-Epiphany Season. By [Father] Thomas Hopko. Reviewed by Bishop [now Archbishop] Chrysostomos of Etna in Orthodox Tradition, Vol. IX, No. 2&3.
Catholicsm through the eyes of a Protestant

Although baptised Catholic as an infant, I grew up Protestant for the most part. As a Protestant I could involve myself in great feeling for God, but still found it difficult to remain in prayer for longer than 10 minutes at a time! Figuring God knew everything I was going to say, I kind of ran out of things to say to Him, and I felt my devotion and worship left something to be desired - even though I had a fervant love for God. Of course both sects of Christianity have great merit - and as most Protestants understand, the deep love of God and his Word are rigourously promoted through Protestant churches. I, like most Protestants, felt the Rosary (and any devotion to Mary or other saints) was idolatry.
However, as I became familiarized with Catholicsm through the expanation of devoted Catholics, I learned devotion to the saints was more of a guide, or imitation. Mary and the saints were those who enjoyed the presence of God, and would go to bat for us in prayer. That was one of the main reasons the Rosary became meaningful to me.

Why don't Catholics "witness" like Protestants do?

Every good Protestant knows how to witness to an unbeliever. Catholics, who - beside the devotion they practice - tend to be more of a confidential sort. They don't often fully explain intense spiritual emotion or love of God to people, but leave this to God alone in prayer. Indeed, most Catholics feel uncomfortable talking about the the greatness of God to other Catholics with those who are casual aquaintances. This may be because most Catholics believe true conversion of another is a result of good examples set by Catholics, and by prayer for others. As a result, it's rare to hear a Catholic singing the praises of various devotions, or openly trying to convert others - Catholics see this as intensly personal.



About the Rosary

Catholics are good at praying. The Rosary is by far the most practiced prayer. It is the repetition of the Our Father and Hail Mary. The full Rosary consists of 15 Our Fathers and 150 Hail Mary's, 15 "Glory Be to the Father, Son & Holy Ghost" and "Divine Heart of Jesus..." (for the words to these prayers, scroll to the bottom).

Catholic tradition teaches that it was given to St. Dominic by Mary herself as a means to combat heresy and to promote spirituality. The origin of the Rosary is in the 1100's. The entire rosary is biblically based, and is a meditation of the life of Christ through the eyes of the human being who knew him best: his mother. And as any parent would agree, if one saw his or her child suffer the way Christ suffered, it would be a vision that wound you through life, and remember through eternity - especially if you understood that your child was the Son of God and was unjustly put to death. Indeed, most parents would rather offer their own life in place of their child's. This is the reason the rosary can be such a passionate prayer. Because through the eyes of Mary, we begin to understand Jesus and the acceptance of God's will.

As a form of prayer, the Rosary is most effective because it utilized man's tri-fold nature: physical, mental and spiritual. Most praying I had ever done only involved the spiritual, or at best - physical and spiritual. The reason the Rosary is so encompassing is because as human beings, we are easily distracted. The repetition of prayers serves as a compassionate way for imperfect humans to pray, since - frankly - we don't always 'get' the full meaning of anything we say the first time. Try saying, for example: "I love, you Father" one time. Now get on your knees and say "I love you, Father" fifteen times, slowly and meaningfully. Then you start to understand what you are saying. You see, God does not need for us to repeat prayers 5, 10, 15 or 100 times. In fact, God does not need us to pray at all. It is we who need the prayers, and our nature which needs the repetition to bury the meanings deep within our souls. This is the basis of the Rosary.


Three natures of human beings

We are distractable beings. One of the main reasons I think the Rosary is so effective is because it keeps our more distractable sides busy for our souls to meditate.

The Rosary involves the physical side of our nature by kneeling while praying, by fingering the beads as we pray (or using our fingers).

It invovles the mental side of our nature by requiring us to speak (out loud) the prayers over and over again.

It involves the spiritual nature of us by requiring us to deeply meditate on the "mysteries" of the rosary, namely: Christ's birth, life, death and resurrection; the decent of the Holy Ghost and Mary's reward in heaven for saying "yes" to God's request.

Simple as this is, it really works.


Are we worshipping Mary?

Praying to Mary is not worshipping Mary. It is universally understood by Cathlolics that Mary wants nothing more than for us than for us to worship God. As a protestant, I didn't understand why Catholics bothered with Mary at all - why didn't they go straight to the Source? The fact is that Catholics DO go straight to the source (God, of course). But good Catholics place great emphasis on the avoidance of sin, and to combat sin in our lives, and understand we need the prayers of others....everyone. Living or dead. Who better than Mary to understand the complexity of human life and pitfalls, and yet who also knows Jesus better than any human being? Remember, the first recorded request Jesus ever answered was that of his mother's, during the marriage at Cana. And even he granted this prayer (or request) somewhat reluctantly since it wasn't a crisis matter and it was "before his time" - in spite of this he still obliged his mother. Even something as insignificant as providing more wine for a wedding feast Jesus did because he honored his mother's request and authority as his parent. Therefore a good Catholic not only prays to God as much as possible, but to everyone who can pray for him or her - mostly Mary. Catholics feel Mary has a special relationship with God - on earth as her role as Jesus' mother, and in heaven where she has become the spiritual mother of all. Mary is important because by accepting the will of God, she salvation began on earth because of her.

Remember, none of us would be saved in this manner if Mary hadn't said "yes". And think for a moment, she could have said "no". We directly or inadvertantly decline the will of God every day, and we will someday understand the harm we have caused or the good we have thwarted. In Mary's position would we have the wisdom and will to say yes?

Prayer is spiritual communication. Devotion and asking assistance of those in heaven is no different than asking a friend to pray for you. Worship is reserved for God alone. Any person, Catholic or not, who places any saint (or any other thing - money, people, etc.) in a position of being worshipped commits idolatry.


Other benefits of the Rosary

There are many promises attached to the Rosary, mostly to defeat heresy and to build fervor for the love of God. However, in my personal experience, I have seen dramatic changes in myself take place after reciting the Rosary consistently. Spiritually, I am more focused in a minute by minute way. Although my life is very busy, I am still able to concetrate on God, and remember to pray to him when I encounter a problem. (forgetting to pray is a big problem of mine, so much that I often pray just to "remember to pray" -ha,ha.)

I find everything I have going on in my physical life is better. This is an added blessing, in my opinion, since I've never found a promise attached to the Rosary for this - but it happens consistently every time I say the rosary with regularity. For example, our financial needs are met when we pray the Rosary. Life is more organized - I accomplish what I need to during the day. Somehow the house is clean, my tasks at work are completed. This has to be the rosary, since usually I run behind with everything! I am aware of sin to a greater degree and I am more patient with others in general. With such a powerful prayer, I can't wait to pray it! There are so many people on my lists to pray for! I am also glad, above all, to offer God my most tender devotion and to recall the experiences of Jesus step by step - year by year, of his years spent on earth.



Prayers said in the Rosary are biblically based:

Our Father
Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Hail Mary
Hail Mary, full of grace! The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus! Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Okay, I know if you don't pray the rosary, you were probably just fine until you got to the "mother of God" part. This is said because Catholics believe in the Trinity, and since Jesus is one of the persons of the Trinity, he is one with God. Therefore, Mary is the "mother of God". This is not so much a 'praise' of Mary for her part, but more of a confirmation of Jesus' oneness with the Father. Mary's role is a humble one. The previous parts are quotes from the Bible, if you remember:

"Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with thee!" - the words to Mary from the angel Gabriel announcing that she had been chosen to be the mother of Jesus.

"Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb [Jesus] - these are the words of Elizabeth, Mary's cousin, whom she visited while pregnant with Jesus (and Elizabeth was pregnant with John the Baptist). To understand Mary's humility, read the Magnificat - the praise Mary offers God after Elizabeth greets her in the Gospel. It's my favorite prayer.

Glory be...
Glory be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Divine Heart of Jesus
Divine Heart of Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy Mercy.

I think all sincere efforts to seek God are worthwhile, and I do not intend to use this page as an effort to condemn anyone's opinion. I hold - as all believing Christians - that knock and the door shall be opened to you. If your goal is to improve your relationship with God and to improve your soul, I hope this becomes a good tool for you.


Prayer to the Blessed Virgin (Never known to fail). O most Beautiful Flower of Mt. Carmel. Fruitful, Vine Splendor of Heaven Blessed Mother of the Son of God. Immaculate Virgin, assist me in my necessity. Oh Star of the Sea, help me and show me herein You are my Mother. Oh Holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and Earth, I humbly beseech You from the bottom of my heart to succor me in my necessity (make your rquest). There are none that can withstand Your power. O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee (3 times) Holy Mary, I place this cause in your hands (3 times). Say this prayer for three consecutive days. You must publish, and it will be granted to You.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known
that any one who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help or sought thy intercession,
was left unaided.

Inspired with this confidence,
I fly unto thee,
O Virgin of virgins my Mother;
to thee do I come,
before thee I stand,
sinful and sorrowful;
O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
but in thy clemency hear and answer me.


1. Marie E. Isaacs, "Mary in the Lucan Infancy Narrative," The Way, Summer 1975, pp. 82-83.

2. Stefano Manelli, All Generations Shall Call He Blessed (New Bedford, Massachussetts: Academy of the Inmaculate, 1995), pp.363-369.

3. Ignace de la Potterie, Mary in the Mystery of the Covenant (New York: Alba House, 1992), P. 262

4. John de Satge, Down to Earth: The Now Protestant Vision of the Virgin Mary (Consortium, 1976), P. 111.

5. Ralph Russell, "The Blessed Virgin Mary in the Bible" in Mary's Place in Christian Dialogue, edited by Alberic Stacpoole (Middlegreen, Slough: St. Paul Publications, 1982), pp.45-7.

6. Rene Laurentin, A Short Treatise on the Virgin Mary (Washington, New Jersey: AMI Press, 1991). pp.269-271

7. Stefano Manelli, All Generations Shall Call He Blessed, pp.81-83, 89.

8. Stefano Manelli, All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed, pp.35-71 39l 41-2.

9. William G. Most, "Mary Coredemptrix in Scripture: Cooperation in Redemption" in Mary Corademptrix mediatrix Advocate: Theological Foundations edited by Mark I. Miravalle (Santa Barbara, CA: Queenship Publishing, 1995), pp.150-1.

10. Stefano Manelli, All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed, pp.46-48.

11. Marie E. Isaacs, "Mary in the Lucan Infancy Narrative," p.91.

12. Rene Laurentin, A Short Treatise on the Virgin Mary (Washington, New Jersey: AMI Press, 1991), pp.278-9, 281.

13. Mark I. Miravalle, Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate (Santa Barbara, CA: Queenship Publishing, 1993), pp.58-59.

14. John McHugh, The Mother of Jesus in the New Testament (New York: Doubleday, 1975), p. 78.

15. Ignace de la Potterie, Mary in the Mystery of the Covenant (New York: Alba House, 1992), p. 189-190.

16. John McHugh, The Mother of Jesus in the New Testament, p.25.

17. Ignace de la Potterie, Mary in the Mystery of the Covenant, p. 48.

18. Ignace de la Potterie, Mary in the Mystery of the Covenant, p. 203.

19. Cited in Rene Laurentin, A Short Treatise on the Virgin Mary, p.25.

20. Ignace de la Potterie, Mary in the Mystery of the Covenant, pp.14-16.

21. Rene Laurentin, A Short Treatise on the Virgin Mary, pp.25-26.

22. John McHugh, The Mother of Jesus in the Now Testament, pp.41-21 p.76.

23. Rene Laurentin, A Short Treatise on the Virgin Mary, pp.27-30.

24. Stefano Manelli, All Generations Shall Call No Blessed, p.152.

25. John McHugh, The Mother of Jesus in the Now Testnt, pp.57-58.

26. Rene Laurentin, A Short Treatise on the Virgin Mary, pp.34-35.

27. Rene Laurentin, A Short Treatise on the Virgin Mary, p.20.

28. Stefano Manelli, All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed, p.131-2.

29. Ignace de la Potterie, Mary in the Mystery of the Covenant, pp.17-20.

30. William G. Most, "Mary Coredemptrix in Scripture: Cooperation in Redemption", p.150.

31. Rene Laurentin, A Short Treatise on the Virgin Mary, p.20-21.

32. John McHugh, The Mother of Jesus in the Now Testament, p.71.

33. Rene Lautentin, A Short Treatise an the Virgin Mary, p.285.

34. Stefano Manelli, All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed, p.137-140.


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