Throughout history Roman Catholic Mariology has been influenced by a number of saints who have attested to the central role of Mary in God's plan of salvation. The analysis of Early Church Fathers continues to be reflected in modern encyclicals. Irenaeus vigorously defended the title of "Theotokos" or Mother of God. The views of Anthony of Padua, Robert Bellarmine and others supported the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, which was declared a dogma in 1850.
Irenaeus was a Greek cleric noted for his role in guiding and expanding Christian communities in what is now the south of France and, more widely, for the development of Christian theology by combatting heresy and defining orthodoxy. Originating from Smyrna, now Izmir in Turkey, he had heard the preaching of Polycarp, who in turn was said to have heard John the Evangelist.
Saint Anthony of Padua, born Fernando Martins de Bulhões - also known as Saint Anthony of Lisbon - was a Portuguese Catholic priest and friar of the Franciscan Order. He was born and raised by a wealthy family in Lisbon, Portugal, and died in Padua, Italy. Noted by his contemporaries for his powerful preaching, expert knowledge of scripture, and undying love and devotion to the poor and the sick, he was one of the most quickly canonized saints in church history. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church on 16 January 1946. He is also the patron saint of lost things.
Saint Robert Bellarmine, S.J. was an Italian Jesuit and a cardinal of the Catholic Church. He was canonized a saint in 1930 and named Doctor of the Church, one of only 36. He was one of the most important figures in the Counter-Reformation.
Writings of the saints have contributed to both popular piety and a greater understanding of Mary's role in salvation history.
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Virgo by Josef Moroder-Lusenberg
One of the earliest images of Mary in Christian tradition is that of the "New Eve". Irenaeus of Lyons (circa 140–202) is perhaps the earliest of the Church Fathers to develop a thorough Mariology. In his youth he had met Polycarp and other Christians who had been in direct contact with the Apostles. Following Romans 5, his analysis is both scriptural and Christological. presenting Christ as the "New Adam". Irenaeus expands upon the thought of Justin Martyr (100–165), and illustrates the distinction between Eve and Mary in both Adversus haereses (Against Heresies) and in Demonstratio Apostolicae Praedicationis (Proof of the Apostolic Preaching).
Polycarp was a 2nd-century Christian bishop of Smyrna. According to the Martyrdom of Polycarp he died a martyr, bound and burned at the stake, then stabbed when the fire failed to touch him. Polycarp is regarded as a saint and Church Father in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches. His name 'Polycarp' means 'much fruit' in Greek.
Justin Martyr was an early Christian apologist, and is regarded as the foremost interpreter of the theory of the Logos in the 2nd century. He was martyred, alongside some of his students, and is considered a saint by the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Oriental Orthodox Churches.
According to Irenaeus, Christ, being born out of the Virgin Mary, created a totally new historical situation.This view influenced Ambrose of Milan and Tertullian, who wrote about the virginal conception of the Mother of God. Pope Pius IX made reference to this theme of Irenaeus in the 1854 apostolic constitution Ineffabilis Deus , which defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.
Tertullian was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. Of Berber origin, he was the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was an early Christian apologist and a polemicist against heresy, including contemporary Christian Gnosticism. Tertullian has been called "the father of Latin Christianity" and "the founder of Western theology."
The virgin birth of Jesus is the doctrine that Jesus was conceived and born by his mother Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit and without a human father. The Catholic church holds it authoritative for faith and Protestants regard it as an explanation of the mixture of the human and divine natures of Jesus, but the scholarly consensus is that its historical foundations are very flimsy.
Pope Pius IX, born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, was head of the Catholic Church from 16 June 1846 to his death on 7 February 1878. He was the longest-reigning elected pope in the history of the Catholic Church, serving for over 31 years. During his pontificate, Pius IX convened the First Vatican Council (1869–70), which decreed papal infallibility, but the council was cut short owing to the loss of the Papal States.
Saint Ambrose of Milan (339–397), Bishop of Milan and Doctor of the Church, was one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the Fourth Century. A student of Simplician, the virginity of Mary and her role as Mother of God were central to his views on Mary.He portrayed the Mother of God "as devoid off any defect or imperfection, radiant with exceptional greatness and holiness."
Simplician was Bishop of Milan from 397 to 400 or 401 AD. He is honoured as a Saint in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches and his feast day is August 14.
Virginity is the state of a person who has never engaged in sexual intercourse. There are cultural and religious traditions that place special value and significance on this state, predominantly towards unmarried females, associated with notions of personal purity, honor and worth.
In 390 he defended the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary, rejected by Jovinian. He also disputed the teaching of Bonosus of Sardica that Mary had other children after Jesus, citing John 19: 25-26 and arguing that if that were so, Jesus would not have entrusted his mother to John. He addressed this further in De Institutione Virginis.
Jovinian, was an opponent of Christian asceticism in the 4th century and was condemned as a heretic at synods convened in Rome under Pope Siricius and in Milan by St Ambrose in 393. Our information about him is derived principally from the work of St. Jerome in two books, Adversus Jovinianum. Jerome referred to him as the "Epicurus of Christianity". He was a native of Corduene. John Henry Newman called Aerius of Sebaste, Jovinian and Vigilantius the forerunners of Protestantism, likening them to the "Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli of the fourth century".
Bonosus was a Bishop of Sardica in the latter part of the fourth century, who taught against the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary. His followers were later labelled "Bonosians" and considered heretical.
The cultus of Mary was not as strong in North Africa during the time of Augustine (354–430) as compared with that of recent martyrs. Augustine died the year before the Council of Ephesus in 431 declared Mary to be the Mother of God, which prompted a more indepth consideration of Mary's role. He did not develop an independent Mariology, but his statements on Mary surpass in number and depth those of other early writers.His main themes are discussed in De santa virginitate (“On holy virginity”), where he explains that, like the church, Mary is both virgin and mother, both physically and spiritually.
Saint Augustine of Hippo was a Roman African, early Christian theologian and philosopher from Numidia whose writings influenced the development of Western Christianity and Western philosophy. He was the bishop of Hippo Regius in north Africa and is viewed as one of the most important Church Fathers in Western Christianity for his writings in the Patristic Period. Among his most important works are The City of God, De doctrina Christiana and Confessions.
Augustine said that Mary was more blessed in accepting faith in Christ than in conceiving the flesh of Christ.Augustine’s interest in Mary’s maternity was Christ-centred and underscored both the full humanity and full divinity of Christ.
Cyril of Alexandria (412–444) presided over the Third Ecumenical Council held in 431 at Ephesus which defined it as an article of faith that Mary was truly the Mother of God. This arose from an apparent Christological dispute pitting Cyril against Nestorius of Constantinople.
Veneration of Mary as “Theotokos” (God bearer) supported the doctrine of the incarnation, and Christ's status as equal to the God the Father. Cyril believed that Nestorius' preference for the term “Christotokos” (Christ-bearer) undermined this and suggested that Christ was distinct persons: one fully human and born of Mary, the other fully divine and not subject to birth or death.The Council endorsed the name "Theotokos", which in the West is translated as Mother of God.
Bernard of Clairvaux was one of the influential churchmen of his time. In the "Sermon on the Sunday in the Octave of the Assumption" he described Mary's participation in redemption.Bernard's Praises on the Virgin Mother" was a small but complete treatise on Mariology.
Bernard wrote of Mary under the title "Our Lady, Star of the Sea".
When the storms of temptation burst upon you, when you see yourself driven upon the rocks of tribulation, look at the star, call upon Mary. When swallowed by pride or ambition, or hatred, or jealousy, look at the star, call upon Mary. Should anger, or avarice, or fleshly desire violently assail the frail vessel of your soul, look at the star, call upon Mary. If troubled on account of the heinousness of your sins, distressed at the filthy state of your conscience, and terrified at the thought of the awful judgment to come, you are beginning to sink into the bottomless gulf of sadness and to be swallowed in the abyss of despair, then think of Mary. In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name leave thy lips, never suffer it to leave your heart.
In 1953, on the eighth centenary of Bernard's death, Pope Pius XII issued the encyclical Doctor Mellifluus on St. Bernard of Clairvaux.
Hildegard of Bingen "presents the most complex Mariology of Medieval German women writers."While following the traditional juxtaposition of Eve and Mary, Adam is depicted in the illustrated Scivias as listening to the tempter, and thus bears equal blame. Of the sixty-three songs in Hildegard's Symphonia, sixteen focus on the role of Mary in salvation history, the most dedicated to any one figure. In Hildegard’s Mariology, Mary assumes the status of an essential, active partner in the plan of redemption. A second characteristic Marian theme is that of the Virgin Mother healing the brokenness brought into the world by the first mother, Eve. Hildegard belongs more to the Romanesque than the Gothic Age. Untouched by a new affective style of piety that friars will popularize across Europe, Hildegard’s Mary, like her overall spirituality, is monastic.
A popular legend holds that Dominic received the Rosary from Mary. Although widely believed to have made use of the Rosary in working for the conversion of the Albigensians, the canonization Acts of Saint Dominic emphasize his frequent praying of the plainsong hymn Ave Maris Stella . The Rosary remains a unique part of the charism of the Order of Preachers.
The many sermons of Anthony of Padua (1195–1231) on the Virgin Mary reflect his belief in various Marian doctrines that were declared as dogmas centuries after his death. He reflected on the Assumption of Mary and referring to Psalm 132 argued that, just as Jesus had risen up to Heaven, so did Mary.He also supported Mary's freedom from sin and her Immaculate Conception. Given that Anthony was one of the best educated and articulate of the early Franciscans, he was treated as a Doctor of the Church by his order, even before the title was granted to him in 1946.
As a Doctor of the Church the views of Anthony of Padua shaped the Mariological approach of a large number of Franciscans who followed his approach for centuries after his death.
Catherine of Siena, a third order Dominican, began almost all of her more than 300 letters with, "In the name of Jesus Christ crucified and of gentle Mary”. For Catherine, the Incarnation is the beginning of the redemption.The city of Siena was dedicated to Mary in 1260, and Catherine absorbed its ambient spirituality. She adopted the custom of dedicating Saturday to Mary and recommended praying the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Her writings influenced theologian Charles Journet.
Saint Petrus Canisius (1521–1597), of the Society of Jesus, taught that while there are many roads leading to Jesus Christ, Marian veneration is the best. Canisius tried to show a practical rationale for Marian devotion and defended it against opposing Protestant arguments. His lasting contribution to this "applied mariology" are his three catechisms, which he published in Latin and German, and which became widespread and popular in Catholic regions. Under the heading "prayer" he explains the Ave Maria, (Hail Mary), as the basis for Catholic Marian piety.Less known are his Marian books, in which he published prayers and contemplative texts.
He is credited with adding to the Hail Mary the sentence Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners. This sentence appeared for the first time in his catechism of 1555.It was eleven years later included in the Catechism of the Council of Trent of 1566.
"Petrus Canisius provided a classical defence of the whole Catholic mariology against Protestantism", as judged three hundred years later by a leading Catholic theologian.
While the Jesuit Cardinal Robert Bellarmine daily prayed the Rosary and the Little Office, he also had a particular devotion to the Immaculate Conception. Pope Pius XII quotes Bellarmine in the 1950 apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus promulgating the dogma of the Assumption.
Francis de Sales was about twelve years old when he was to Paris to be educated at the Jesuit Collège de Clermont, where he joined the Sodality of Mary. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, although still at that time debated, was an important element of Jesuit Marian devotion. In 1584 a personal religious crisis led him to the chapel of Notre Dame de Bonne Deliverance at the Dominican church of St. Etienne des Gres, where he dedicated himself to the Blessed Virgin.
As provost to the Bishop of Geneva, de Sales undertook missionary work in the Calvinist Chablais, recently annexed to Catholic Savoy. Promoting the cult of Mary was part of his evangelizing efforts. As bishop, he erected churches and chapels dedicated to Notre Dame. Many of these were consecrated in honor of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption, thus giving prominence to these doctrines.
In Introduction to the Devout Life, de Sales' recommended devotion to Mary, especially entrusting oneself to her maternal heart. In The Treatise on the Love of God, he follows Duns Scotus in maintaining that being preordained to be the Mother of God, Mary was, by a singular privilege, preserved from original sin at the moment of her conception. This was done through the prevenient application of Christ's merits to her and thus a preservative redemption. "For him, the reciprocal love of God and humankind is paradigmatically discovered in the union of the hearts of Mary and Jesus."
Jean Eudes (1601–1680) was influenced in part by the writings of Saint Francis de Sales on the perfections of the Heart of Mary as the model of love for God.He introduced the devotion to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary and established the Society of the Heart of the Mother Most Admirable. Eudes began his devotional teachings with the Heart of Mary, and then extended it to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The feast of the Holy Heart of Mary was celebrated for the first time in 1648, and that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1670. The Mass and Office proper to these feasts were composed by Saint Jean Eudes in 1668.
Louis de Montfort (1673–1716) was defender of Mariology against Jansenism; his True Devotion to Mary synthesized many of the writings of earlier saints. Montfort's approach of "total consecration to Jesus Christ through Mary" had a strong impact on Marian devotion both in popular piety and in the spirituality of religious institutes. Pope John Paul II quoted Montfort in his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae : Since Mary is of all creatures the one most conformed to Jesus Christ, it follows that among all devotions that which most consecrates and conforms a soul to our Lord is devotion to Mary, his Holy Mother, and that the more a soul is consecrated to her the more will it be consecrated to Jesus Christ."
Montfort's The Secret of the Rosary is also widely read.
Mainly pastoral in nature, the Mariology of Alphonsus Liguori rediscovers, integrates and defends the Mariology of Augustine and Ambrose and other fathers and represents an intellectual defence of Mariology in the eighteenth century.Liguori promoted the doctrine of the bodily Assumption of Mary into Heaven, arguing that Jesus would not have wanted his mother's body corrupted in flesh, for that would have been a dishonour, given that he had himself been born of the Virgin, and hence Mary must have been assumed into Heaven.
In The Glories of Mary , Liguori based his analysis of Mary as the "Gate to Heaven" on Saint Bernard's statement: “No one can enter Heaven unless by Mary, as though through a door.” He also wrote Hail Holy Queen: An Explanation of the Salve Regina.
It is said that for Thérèse of Lisieux "...it was more important for people to imitate Mary than to admire her. She was outspokenly impatient with sermons that exaggerated the Blessed Virgin's privileges – as though Mary did not walk in the darkness that shrouds all true faith."Speaking of Mary, Thérèse said,"She is more Mother than Queen."
In 1915, while still in the seminary, Saint Maximillian Kolbe (1894–1941) and six other students started the movement Militia Immaculatae to promote devotion to the Immaculate Conception, partly relying on the 1858 messages of Our Lady of Lourdes. Kolbe emphasized the renewal of the baptismal promises by making a total consecration to the Immaculata, which he considered the most perfect means of achieving unity with Jesus.Kolbe later founded the monastery of Immaculate City and founded the publication Militia Immaculatae (Knight of the Immaculate). Kolbe's efforts in promoting consecration to the Immaculata made him known as the "Apostle of Consecration to Mary".
In Christian theology, the Immaculate Conception is the conception of the Virgin Mary free from original sin by virtue of the merits of her son Jesus. The Catholic Church teaches that God acted upon Mary in the first moment of her conception, keeping her "immaculate".
The First Saturdays Devotion is a Catholic devotion which, according to Sister Lúcia of Fátima, was requested by the Virgin Mary in an apparition at Pontevedra, Spain, in December 1925. This devotion has been approved by the Roman Catholic Church.
The Salve Regina, also known as the Hail Holy Queen, is a Marian hymn and one of four Marian antiphons sung at different seasons within the Christian liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church. The Salve Regina is traditionally sung at Compline in the time from the Saturday before Trinity Sunday until the Friday before the first Sunday of Advent. The Hail Holy Queen is also the final prayer of the Rosary.
Catholic Mariology refers to Mariology—the systematic study of the person of Mary, mother of Jesus, and of her place in the Economy of Salvation—within Catholic theology. Mary is seen as having a singular dignity above the saints. The Catholic Church teaches that she was conceived without original sin, therefore receiving a higher level of veneration than all other saints. Catholic Mariology thus studies not only her life but also the veneration of her in daily life, prayer, hymns, art, music, and architecture in modern and ancient Christianity throughout the ages.
Marian devotions are external pious practices directed to the person of Mary, mother of Jesus, by members of certain Christian traditions. They are performed in Roman Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity, but generally rejected in Protestant denominations.
Ineffabilis Deus is an apostolic constitution by Pope Pius IX. It defines the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The decree was promulgated on December 8, 1854, the date of the annual Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and followed from a positive response to the encyclical Ubi primum. Mary's immaculate conception is one of only two pronouncements that were made ex cathedra and is therefore considered by the Catholic Church to be infallible through the extraordinary magisterium.
Anglican Marian theology is the summation of the doctrines and beliefs of Anglicanism concerning Mary, mother of Jesus. As Anglicans believe that Jesus was both human and God the Son, the second Person of the Trinity, within the Anglican Communion and Continuing Anglican movement, Mary is accorded honour as the theotokos, a Koiné Greek term that means "God-bearer" or "one who gives birth to God".
Mary is known by many different titles, epithets, invocations and other names.
Mariology is the theological study of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mariology methodically relates teachings about her to other parts of the faith, such as teachings about Jesus, redemption and grace. Christian Mariology aims to connect scripture, tradition and the teachings of the Church on Mary. In the context of social history, Mariology may be broadly defined as the study of devotion to and thinking about Mary throughout the history of Christianity.
Marian feast days are specific holy days of the liturgical year recognized by Christians as significant Marian days for the celebration of events in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her veneration. The number of Marian feasts celebrated, their names can vary among Christian denominations.
Protestant views on Mary include the theological positions of major Protestant representatives such as Martin Luther and John Calvin as well as some modern representatives. While it is difficult to generalize about the place of Mary, mother of Jesus in Protestantism given the great diversity of Protestant beliefs, some summary statements are attempted.
The history of Catholic Mariology traces theological developments and views regarding Mary from the early Church to the 21st century. Mariology is a mainly Catholic ecclesiological study within theology, which centers on the relation of Mary and the Church. Catholic Mariology is the encyclopedic area of theology concerned with Mary, the Mother of God. Theologically, it not only deals with her life, but her veneration in daily life, prayer, art, music, architecture, in modern and ancient Christianity throughout the ages.
The Mariology of the popes is the theological study of the influence that the popes have had on the development, formulation and transformation of the Roman Catholic Church’s doctrines and devotions relating to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Luther's Marian theology is derived from his views of Mary, the mother of Jesus. It was developed out of the deep Christian Marian devotion on which he was reared, and it was subsequently clarified as part of his mature Christocentric theology and piety. Lutherans hold Mary in high esteem. Martin Luther dogmatically asserted what he considered firmly established biblical doctrines like the divine motherhood of Mary while adhering to pious opinions of the Immaculate Conception and the perpetual virginity of Mary along with the caveat that all doctrine and piety should exalt and not diminish the person and work of Jesus Christ. By the end of Luther's theological development, his emphasis was always placed on Mary as merely a receiver of God's love and favor. His opposition to regarding Mary as a mediatrix of intercession or redemption was part of his greater and more extensive opposition to the belief that the merits of the saints could be added to those of Jesus Christ to save humanity.
In the Catholic Church, the veneration of Mary, mother of Jesus, encompasses various Marian devotions which include prayer, pious acts, visual arts, poetry, and music devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Popes have encouraged it, while also taking steps to reform some manifestations of it. The Holy See has insisted on the importance of distinguishing "true from false devotion, and authentic doctrine from its deformations by excess or defect". There are significantly more titles, feasts, and venerative Marian practices among Roman Catholics than in other Western Christian traditions. The term hyperdulia indicates the special veneration due to Mary, greater than the ordinary dulia for other saints, but utterly unlike the latria due only to God. The term "Mariolatry" is a Protestant pejorative label for perceived excessive Catholic devotion to Mary.
The Blessed Virgin Mary has been one of the major subjects of Western Art for centuries. Numerous pieces of Marian art in the Catholic Church covering a range of topics have been produced, from masters such as Michelangelo and Botticelli to works made by unknown peasant artisans.
Mariological papal documents have been a major force that has shaped Roman Catholic Mariology over the centuries. Mariology is developed by theologians on the basis not only of Scripture and Tradition but also of the sensus fidei of the faithful as a whole, "from the bishops to the last of the faithful", and papal documents have recorded those developments, defining Marian dogmas, spreading doctrines and encouraging devotions within the Catholic Church.
Catholic Marian movements and societies have developed from the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary by members of the Catholic Church. These societies form part of the fabric of Mariology in the Catholic Church. Popular membership in Marian organizations grew significantly in the 20th century, as apparitions such as Our Lady of Fátima gave rise to societies with millions of members, and today many Marian societies exist around the world. This article reviews the major Marian movements and organizations.
The Glories of Mary is a classic book in the field of Roman Catholic Mariology, written during the 18th century by Saint Alphonsus Liguori, a Doctor of the Church.
The Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary refers to the historical, theological and spiritual links in Catholic devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Devotions to the two hearts are key elements of Catholic teachings, and terms such as Holy Heart, Agonizing Heart and Compassionate Heart have also been used in devotions.