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Definition: Virgin Mary from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

In Christianity, the title of Mary, the mother of Jesus.


Summary Article: Mary from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

In the New Testament, the mother of Jesus through divine intervention (see Annunciation and Virgin Birth), wife of Joseph. The Roman Catholic Church maintains belief in her Immaculate Conception (birth without original sin) and bodily assumption into heaven, and venerates her as a mediator. The feast day of the Assumption is 15 August.

Traditionally her parents were elderly and named Joachim and Anna. Mary married Joseph and accompanied him to Bethlehem. Roman Catholic doctrine assumes that the brothers of Jesus were Joseph's sons by an earlier marriage, and that she remained a virgin. Pope Paul VI proclaimed her ‘Mother of the Church’ in 1964.

Mary's place in heaven Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and some Anglican Christians regard the Virgin Mary as a link between heaven and earth. They believe in her bodily assumption (that her body as well as her soul was taken to heaven when she died). Since AD 431, she has been given the title ‘Theotokos’ (Mother of God).

As the mother of Jesus, she is thought to have special access to him, and will intercede on behalf of Christians who pray to her. Shrines to the ‘Blessed Virgin Mary’ exist around the world. Thousands of churches have been named after her, and many Christians have reported seeing visions of her; for example, at Lourdes and Walsingham.

Because of the nature of her birth and position as the mother of God, Roman Catholics ‘honour’ the Blessed Virgin Mary rather than worship her. When they pray to her, it is not to worship her, but to ask her to include them in her prayers as a person may ask any other Christian.

Annunciation and the Virgin Birth Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox Christians regard her as a virgin because the Holy Spirit gave her the seed of creation in the Annunciation. All Christians affirm that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, although some may argue about the meaning of the term ‘virgin’ and ‘virgin birth’. Some Christians argue that in the Gospels, virgin is a term used to describe a young woman of marriageable age, and not a virgin in the modern sense (someone who has not had sexual intercourse).

Immaculate Conception Roman Catholics and some members of the High Anglican churches believe in the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary; they believe that she was born without original sin and remained free from sin throughout her life, setting her apart from any other human being. Those who affirm the Immaculate Conception argue that no ordinary person could have given birth to Jesus, whom Christians believe was the son of God.

© RM, 2016. All rights reserved.

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