Mary, the mother of Jesus in Christianity, is known by many different titles (Blessed Mother, Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Our Lady, Holy Virgin), epithets (Star of the Sea, Queen of Heaven, Cause of Our Joy), invocations (Panagia, Mother of Mercy, God-bearer Theotokos), and several names associated with places (Our Lady of Loreto, Our Lady of Fátima).
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All of these descriptives refer to the same woman named Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ (in the New Testament). They are used differently by Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and some Anglicans. (Note: Mary Magdalene, Mary of Clopas, and Mary Salome are different women.)
Some descriptives of Mary are properly titles, dogmatic in nature, while some are invocations. Other descriptives are poetic or allegorical or have lesser or no canonical status, but form part of popular piety, with varying degrees of acceptance by Church authorities. Another class of titles refer to depictions of Mary in Catholic Marian art and in art generally. A rich range of Marian titles also are used in musical settings of pieces dedicated to her.
See also: History of Roman Catholic Mariology
The relatively large number of titles given to Mary may be explained in several ways. Some titles grew due to geographic and cultural reasons, e.g., through the veneration of specific icons. Others were related to Marian apparitions.
Mary's intercession is sought for a large spectrum of human needs in varied situations. This has led to the formulation of many of her titles (good counsel, Help of the Sick, etc.). Moreover, meditations and devotions on the different aspects of Mary's role in the life of Jesus have led to additional titles, such as Our Lady of Sorrows. Still further titles have been derived from dogmas and doctrines, such as, the Assumption of Mary, Dormition of the Mother of God and Immaculate Conception.
The veneration of Mary was consolidated in the year 431 when, at the Council of Ephesus, the descriptive, Theotokos, or Mary the bearer (or mother) of God, was declared a dogma. Thereafter Marian devotion, centred on the subtle and complex relationship between Mary, Jesus, and the Church, began to flourish, first in the East and later in the West.
The Reformation diminished Mary's role in many parts of Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Council of Trent and Counter Reformation intensified Marian devotion among Roman Catholics. Around the same period, Mary became an instrument of evangelisation in the Americas and parts of Asia and Africa, e.g. gaining impetus from reported apparitions at Our Lady of Guadalupe, which resulted in a large number of conversions to Christianity in Mexico.
Following the Reformation, baroque literature on Mary experienced unprecedented growth, with over 500 instances of Mariological writings during the 17th century alone. During the Age of Enlightenment, the emphasis on scientific progress and rationalism put Catholic theology and Mariology often on the defensive later in the 18th century. Books, such as The Glories of Mary by Alphonsus Liguori, were written in defence of the cult of Mary.
In the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches the Assumption of Mary may be translated as the Dormition of the Mother of God; it is an important feast day, not based on a scriptural canon but affirmed by tradition.
"Our Lady" is a common title to give to Mary as a sign of respect and honor. In French she is called "Notre Dame" and in Spanish she is "Nuestra Señora".
|Mary||Maria||Mariam (Μαριάμ), Maria (Μαρία)||Arabic: Maryām (مريم), Chinese: (瑪利亞), Coptic: Maria (Ⲙⲁⲣⲓⲁ), French: Marie, German: Maria, Italian: Maria, Judeo-Aramaic: Maryām (מרים), Maltese: Marija, Portuguese: Maria, Russian: Marija (Мария), Spanish: María, Syriac: Mariam, Vietnamese: Maria|
|"Full of Grace", "Blessed", "Most Blessed"||Gratia plena, Beata, Beatissima||kecharitomene (κεχαριτωμένη)||from the angel's greeting to Mary in Luke 1:28;|
|"Virgin", "the Virgin"||Virgo||Parthenos (Παρθένος)||Greek parthenos used in Matthew 1:22; Ignatius of Antioch refers to Mary's virginity and motherhood (ca. 110);|
|"Cause of our Salvation"||causa salutis||according to Irenaeus of Lyons (150–202);|
|"Mother of God"||Mater Dei||Meter Theou (Μήτηρ Θεοῦ)||often abbr. ΜΡ ΘΥ in Greek iconography;|
|"God-bearer"||Deipara, Dei genitrix||Theotokos (Θεοτόκος)||lit. "one who bears the One who is God"; a common title in Eastern Christianity with christological implications; adopted officially during Council of Ephesus (431) in response to Nestorianism, which questioned the Church's teaching that Jesus Christ's nature was unified;|
|"Ever-virgin"||semper virgo||aei-parthenos (ἀειπάρθενος)||Hippolytus of Rome(c.170 – c.235) held Mary to be "all-holy ever-virgin"|
|"Holy Mary", "Saint Mary"||Sancta Maria||Hagia Maria (Ἁγία Μαρία)||Greek invocation is infrequent in contemporary Eastern Christianity;|
|"Most Holy"||Sanctissima, tota Sancta||Panagia (Παναγία)||Hippolytus held Mary to be "all-holy ever-virgin"|
|"Most Pure"||Purissima||Parallels have been drawn between the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Mother. She travels to the hill country of Judea, where John leaps at her approach, Elizabeth cries out and says "Who Am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me", stays in Zechariah's home for three months, blessing it. Afterward she goes to Jerusalem.|
|"Immaculate"||immaculata||akeratos (ἀκήρατος)||The Angel Gabriel calls Mary "Full of Grace". This is taken by many Christians to imply that Mary was free from all sin.|
|"Lady", "Mistress"||Domina||Despoina (Δέσποινα)||related, "Madonna" (Italian: Madonna, from ma "my" + donna "lady"; from Latin domina); also, "Notre Dame" (French: Notre Dame, lit. "our lady");|
|"Queen of Heaven"||Regina caeli, Regina coeli||As the mother of Jesus, who in mainstream Christianity is God and King of Heaven, multiple Christian denominations give her the title "Queen of Heaven". Mary is identified with the figure in Revelation 12:1;|
In the Loreto Litanies Mary's prayers are invoked under more than fifty separate titles, such as "Mother Most Pure", "Virgin Most Prudent", and "Cause of Our Joy".
Other devotional titles include:
With the exception of the Jesus Christ, who is believed to have a twofold nature, both human and divine, (dyophysitism), the Blessed Virgin Mary is considered among many Christians to be the unique human being about whom there is a dogma. She is connected to four different dogmas and numerous Marian titles. Christian invocations, titles, and art bear witness to the prominent role she has been accorded in the history and programme of salvation in parts of Christendom, although this is not shared by many (mainly reformed) Christian churches.
In the Hail Mary prayer, she is addressed as "full of grace" by Archangel Gabriel of the Annunciation speaking in the Name of God. The Nicene Creed, declares that Jesus was "incarnate by the Holy Ghost and of the Virgin Mary, and was made man,". This has given rise to the descriptive, "spouse of the Holy Spirit".
Tradition has it that the Virgin Mother of God was anointed by the Holy Spirit, hence putting her on a par with the anointing of the Kings, Prophets, Judges, and High Priests of Israel, as Jesus Christ is said to have been. This in turn opens the way to titles such as:
In the Roman Catholic and in the Orthodox Churches, the Virgin Mother of God is venerated in a special form expressed in Greek as hyperdulia, that is, secondary only to the adoration reserved for the Triune God. She is venerated and honoured in this way since no other being--whether angelic or human--has greater power than Mary to intercede with God in the distribution of Grace to His children.
Titles of images related to epithets include:
Titles of images related to places of worship include:
See also: Marian apparitions
A number of titles of Mary found in Latin America pertain to cultic images of her represented in iconography identified with a particular already existent title adapted to a particular place. Our Lady of Luján in Argentina refers to a small terracotta image made in Brazil and sent to Argentina in May, 1630. Its appearance seems to have been inspired by Murillo's Immaculates. Our Lady of Copacabana (Bolivia): is a figure related to devotion to Mary under the title "Most Blessed Virgin de la Candelaria, Our Lady of Copacabana". About four feet in height, the statue was made by Francisco Tito Yupanqui around 1583 and is garbed in the colors and dress of an Inca princess.
Theotokos means "God-bearer" and is translated as "Mother of God". This title was given to Mary at the Third Ecumenical Council in Ephesus in 431 AD.(cf. Luke 1:43).
Main article: Mary's names and titles in Islam
The Qur'an refers to Mary (Arabic: مريم, romanized: Maryam) by the following titles:
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