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Being Catholic
Being Catholic
Mary, Mother of God

Mary, Mother of God

Therefore, the Lord himself shall give you a sign.
Behold the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son,
and his name shall be called Emmanuel.
Isaiah 7, 14

Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou 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 David his father; and he shall reign in
the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end. And Mary said
to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man? And the angel
answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the
Most High shall overshadow thee. And, therefore, also the Holy which shall be born of
thee shall be called the Son of God.
Luke 1, 31-35

Since apostolic time, Catholics have believed and the Church has taught that the Blessed Virgin Mary is truly the Mother of God or, in ancient Greek, Theotokos which means "God-bearer." This honorable designation means Mary is the mother of the eternal Son of God made man by having conceived and given birth to the Divine Logos in his sacred humanity (Jn 1:1-14). Surely, Mary did not create the divine person of Jesus who existed with the Father from all eternity, but she did provide all the genetic material that was needed to allow God to become a man by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is the "seed" or offspring of the woman who God put at enmity with the serpent (Gen 3:15).

Isaiah's prophecy was fulfilled at the Annunciation once Mary gave her joyful consent in response to the good news that was brought to her by the angel Gabriel: "Behold, the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son whose name shall be Emmanuel" (7:14). The Hebrew name means "God with us." Mary's cousin Elizabeth deferentially acknowledged the singular blessing conferred on her kinswoman when she asked her, "Whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Lk 1:43). The divine title Adonai ( אֲדֹנָי, lit. "My Lords") is the plural form of adon ("Lord") along with the first-person singular pronoun enclitic. As with Elohim, Adonai's grammatical form is usually explained as a plural of majesty. In the Hebrew Bible, it is nearly always used to refer to God about 450 times. Hence, the Blessed Virgin Mary is the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is God Himself in his divine person and as such the Hebrew God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob made man.

Early Sacred Tradition


“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.”
St. Ignatius of Antioch
To the Ephesians, 7
(c. A.D. 110)

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“Holy and wise in all things was the all-blessed Virgin; in all ways peerless among all nations,
and unrivalled among women. Not as the first virgin Eva, who being alone in the garden, was in
her weak mind led astray by the serpent; and so took his advice and brought death into the
world; and because of that hath been all the suffering of saints. But in her alone, in this Holy
Virgin Mary, the Stem of Life hath shot up for us. For she alone was spotless in soul and
St. Gregory Thaumaturgus
On the Holy Mother of God
(262 A.D.)

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“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.”
St. Alexander of Alexandria
Epistle to Alexander, 12
(A.D. 324)

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“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.”
St. Cyril of Jerusalem
Catechetical Lectures, X:19
(c. A.D. 350)

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“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.”
St. Athanasius
Orations III, 14
(A.D. 362)

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“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.”
St. Gregory of Nyssa
On Virginity, 14
(A.D. 370)

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

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“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?”
St. Ambrose
Virginity, II:6
(c. A.D. 378)

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

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“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.”
St. John Cassian
The Incarnation of Christ, II:2
(A.D. 430)

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“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…”
St. 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)


Holy Mary, Mother of God
pray for us sinners.