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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

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“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 body.”
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)

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“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)

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Holy Mary, Mother of God
pray for us sinners.

This entry was posted in Home.

7 comments on “Mary, Mother of God

  1. Yes. There’s no way anyone who believes in the divinity of Christ can deny this without refusing to see the valid conclusion of two true premises

    Jesus is God.
    Mary is the mother of Jesus.
    Therefore…

    I think the only reason why people object is because they don’t know what “Theotokos” means. I think they’re under the impression that we think she begot His Divine Essence in some way—hence the “Quadrinity” argument. I personally believe that it is good to make sure you understand a doctrine before trying to debunk it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marian Catholic says:

    Most Protestants, especially Evangelicals, who object to this title don’t want to understand it. They prefer to stick to their arguments such as the Quadrinity. One Evangelical I debated with years ago argued that Mary was a surrogate mother of the human Jesus. Another argued that Jesus was the divine offspring of the Holy Spirit through Mary’s womb which smacks of Gnosticism and Monophysitism. Jesus couldn’t have been truly man in his divine person in either case, for his humanity had to germinate from Mary’s eggs in the womb. He had to be the offspring of Mary (passive principle) and of God the Holy Spirit (active principle). And, of course, mother’s give birth to persons, not their human natures. Jesus was a divine person who acquired a human nature through Mary. He wasn’t two persons in one body – Nestorianism. Hence, not even elementary logic will persuade them to assert the truth because they’ve already made up their minds. But I have met Protestants such as Lutherans and Anglicans who accept the title for what it truly signifies, though they still question the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. From my experience, once you explain the dogma to any open-minded Protestant, the Protestant will side with the Catholic position. I imagine explaining how it was defined in the Council of Ephesus to combat Nestorianism would help.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Marian Catholic says:

    Yes, Protestants who accept this Marian dogma do so because it does essentially confirm Christ’s divinity. They look at the dogma from a Christocentric perspective. Ignatius of Antioch is the first known Church Father to at least implicitly affirm Mary’s divine motherhood in his contention with the Gnostics who denied Christ’s humanity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, although there are many other Catholic doctrines testified just as long ago which Protestants generally deny (hence Sola Scriptura). Mary as a “surrogate mother” sounds a lot like Mormonism. I imagine it might have something to do with the Protestant idea of salvation having to be completely one-sided without humanity having anything to with it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Marian Catholic says:

        Exactly! If humanity doesn’t have anything to do with its salvation, God wouldn’t have become a man to suffer and die for us. God could have simply decreed our formal redemption without having to do anything else himself. Unfortunately, almost all Protestants believe they don’t have to do anything to be saved other than read their Bibles and sing hymns on Sunday.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well, they believe they simply have to trust in Christ’s salvific power for his salvific power to be effective. As a side note, even some Mormons are willing to profess the Theotokos. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2019/01/mary-the-mother-of-jesus?lang=eng

        I have the feeling that devotion to our Lady is engraved on every human heart. Certain pagan goddesses, I imagine, were invented because God instilled in us a desire for a heavenly mother, although they got it terribly wrong in a number of ways, of course. Muslims even have some high view of our Lady. I think Protestants know that they should put her in high esteem considering how she is sometimes depicted in movies, in spite of the fact that some are not willing to admit it. That’s not true about all of them, of course.

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