Mary or Mariam or Miriam was the mother of Jesus Christ according to the New Testament of the Bible. She is known by various titles and honorific.
The Gospels of Luke and Mathew describe Mary as a virgin and according to Christian belief, Mary was the virgin mother of Jesus whom she conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. Christians believe in the triumvirate of God: God, the Father, The Holy Spirit and the Son. Thus, she has three roles: chosen one of the God, spouse of the Holy Spirit and Mother of the Son of God.
Mention in the Bible:
- The name of Mary is mentioned most (12 times) in the Gospel of Luke, all regarding the Infancy story of Jesus.
- She is mentioned six times in the Gospel of Mathew, five times in the Infancy narrative and only once outside it.
- She is called once by name in the Gospel of Mark and twice as the mother of Jesus without her name.
- She is referred to twice in the Gospel of John but never by name.
- In the Acts of the Apostles, she is referred to twice; at the event of the Pentecost and the Ascension of Jesus.
Titles of Mary:
Mary has many names: ‘Blessed Virgin Mary,’ ‘Saint Mary,’ ‘Mother of God,’ ‘Our Lady,’ ‘Queen of Heaven,’ ‘Our Lady of Sorrows,’ ‘Theotokos (Mother of God),’ and ‘Queen Mother.’
Mary in the New Testament:
Mary is believed to be the greatest among saints in Christianity. The Virgin Mother was apart from Jesus, regarded divinely above all men and angels. The main events of Mary’s life are venerated as liturgical festivals of the Church.
The life of Mary is predicted in the Old Testament, but the story of her life is accounted for in the New Testament. The apocryphal gospel identifies Mary as the child of Saint Joachim and Saint Anne. She was presented to the Temple as a young girl.
The crucial event in Mary’s life is described as The Annunciation. She is visited by Angel Gabriel, who informs her about her being chosen to be the virgin mother of the Son of God, through the working of the Holy Spirit.
At that time, she was betrothed to Joseph, a pious man. When Joseph came to know Mary was with child, he planned to break the betrothal in secret. But an angel appeared in his dreams saying that Mary was carrying the child of God and that he should not abandon her. Joseph married Mary and waited for the birth of Jesus.
While Mary was pregnant, she visited her cousin named Elizabeth; she was pregnant with John the Baptist. Elizabeth realized that Mary was carrying Jesus and addressed her as the Mother of God. At this, Mary, in turn recited what is now called as the Magnificat: meaning she was happy to submit to the Will of God? After three months, she returned to Nazareth.
At that time, a census was declared by Emperor Augustus throughout the huge Roman Empire. Joseph and Mary set out to Bethlehem, the city of his lineage (he was from the House of David). The couple could not find lodgings for the night in Bethlehem, and Joseph and his heavily pregnant wife chose to rest in the stable of an inn. There Jesus was born in a manger. They were visited by shepherds who wanted to pay homage to Jesus as they were led there by angels. Mary also witnessed the visit by the Magi- three kings from the East, who brought gifts to present to the King of Kings.
The next event in the life of Mary is the flight to Egypt. Urged by an angel, the Holy Family fled to Egypt in order to avoid being harmed by Herod, who was thirsting to kill the newborn king. After the death of Herod, the Holy family came to settle in Nazareth where Jesus grew up to a strong and wise boy, cared for by his parents.
Next reference to Mary comes in the incident when Joseph and Mary find the boy Jesus missing from their caravan while returning from a trip to the Temple at Jerusalem. After three days, Jesus is found in the temple in discussion with elders and Mary treasured all these in her heart.
The Miracle of the Wedding at Cana is the first miracle done by Jesus and is also notable because it was performed by him at the request of Mother Mary.
Mary was also present during the Passion of Jesus, beside his cross where he gave up his spirit. Before dying, Jesus entrusted his mother in the care of the Apostle John. She was also present at the resurrection of Jesus and his ascension to heaven.
Another important reference to Mother Mary was her receiving the Holy Spirit while assembling with the Apostles in an upper room during the Pentecost.
There are no references to last years of Mary in the Scriptures. According to the Catholic Church, she is assumed to have been lifted bodily to heaven in the arms of angels (Assumption).
In 1950, this belief was made Catholic dogma by Pope Pius XII. The four Catholic dogmas are Mother of God, Mary’s Perpetual Virginity, The Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary. The Feast of Assumption is observed on August 15th.
May and October are regarded as special Marian months featuring devotions like the Rosary. Veneration of Mother Mary as the intercessor of petitions is well established all over the world. She has also appeared in many visions to chosen saints and places like Lourdes.
The Catholic Church also accepted the dogma that Mary was conceived without original sin. The feast of Immaculate Conception is observed on December 8th. Since the 7th century, the birthday of Mother Mary has been marked on September 8th.
The special role of Mary in the salvation history is proved by references to her in Gospels. She accompanied Jesus in some important points in his life: from his birth in Bethlehem to the painful crucifixion. That she is the heavenly intercessor for us humans is without a doubt.