Publié le : 2022-08-31 18:30:00
Catégories : Religious News
On September 12, the Catholic Church will celebrate the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary. This feast was instituted following the victory of John Sobieski, King of Poland, and Duke Charles V of Lorraine over the armies of the Ottoman Empire on 12 September 1683. This day of thanksgiving to the Virgin Mary is an opportunity to question our knowledge of the Holy Mary:
- What do we know about the history of the holy mary?
- Why is the mother of Jesus called the Holy Mary?
- What are the other names given to the holy mary?
- Finally, for which of her qualities is the holy mary prayed to?
To know the history of the Mother of Jesus, our only sources are the writings of the apostles: the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. Subsequently, many theologians have spoken about the Virgin. This is how the cult of Mary was instituted in the first centuries of the Church.
The New Testament is one of the main sources of information on the story of Mary. Among the four evangelists and the writing of the Acts of the Apostles there are several mentions of her, particularly in the Gospels of St. Luke and St. Matthew.
It is therefore these last two gospels and the Acts of the Apostles that will give us the most knowledge about the story of Mary.
Luke and Matthew, each in their own way, relate the conception of Jesus, while at the same time clarifying the setting. Luke speaks of Mary as Joseph's fiancée, of the visit of the archangel Gabriel during the Annunciation, announcing to Mary that she was carrying the Son of God in her womb. Matthew relates a dream informing Joseph of the divine conception of Jesus.
It is always thanks to these two evangelists and especially to St Luke for the birth of Jesus that we have details of Mary's presence during the visit of the Magi to her newborn Jesus.
The childhood of Jesus allows us to learn about several episodes in Mary's life: the flight to Egypt, the return to Israel and the settlement in Nazareth, and finally, the disappearance of Jesus at the age of 12 during the annual pilgrimage of Mary and Joseph to the temple in Jerusalem is recounted by Luke. The latter specifies Mary's great anxiety during this episode.
During the period when Jesus travels around Israel to announce the good news, it is the evangelist Saint John who takes over by teaching us about the role of Mary during two episodes: at the wedding in Cana and during the Crucifixion. Finally, the Acts of the Apostles tells us that Mary was present with the disciples during Pentecost.
Several other gospels were found from the second century onwards. Although they were not retained in the New Testament, they provide information on the life of Mary that has been integrated into Christian worship. The main source is the Protevangel of James. All of these writings mention new details about Mary's life: the names of Mary's parents Anne and Joachim, her Nativity, her life in Ephesus and her adolescence and finally her Dormition and Assumption.
Throughout the history of the Church, councils and popes have established dogmas that have helped to shape the cult of the holy mary:
- In 431 at the Council of Ephesus, Mary was declared Theotokos, which means "Mother of God",
- In 553 the perpetual virginity of Mary was made official by the Second Council of Constantinople,
- The Assumption of Mary has been a liturgical feast since the 8th century,
- In 1169, Pope Alexander III proclaimed that Mary's body remained incorruptible after her death,
- In 1477, Pope Sixtus VI invited people to give thanks for "the admirable conception of the Immaculate Virgin".
- finally, in 1854 Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.
These official announcements have always followed debates within the church and cults that spread among Christians. One example is the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which was made official by Pius IX, even though the Immaculate Conception was often mentioned in Christian cults.
The virginity of Mary is announced in the Gospels by St Luke and St Matthew. The Catholic and Orthodox Churches have never questioned this mystery of faith. This mystery is linked to many other mysteries such as the resurrection of Christ or the Holy Trinity.
It is this virginity that makes Mary an exceptionally pure being. It gives her a special place in prayer, since the Catholic Church considers that worship of Mary is superior to worship of the saints and angels. This is the principle of the hyperdulia of Mary.
In the second and third centuries, many church fathers defended the virginity of Mary before, during and after childbirth. This is called the perpetual virginity of Mary, represented in some iconographies by three stars on her forehead and on her two shoulders. These three stars are the symbol of this perpetual virginity.
Among Christians, the division on the subject of Mary occurred in the sixteenth century, during the spread of Protestantism by Luther and then Calvin. Calvin refused to celebrate Marian feasts, especially because he did not accept the term "Mother of God".
From the beginning of Protestantism, the place of Mary was relativised. It was from the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854 and the proclamation of the Assumption in 1950 that the gap with Catholicism was definitively widened. From then on, the Protestant churches denounced the excesses of the Marian cult, especially since these dogmas were established much later than the initial writings of the Church: the New Testament.
To put it differently, what the Protestants particularly denounce is that the Marian cult does not really have its sources in the Scriptures. It derives from a succession of traditions validated by councils and popes throughout the history of the Church.
Among the most commonly used names are Our Lady, Holy Mary, Mother of God, New Eve, Immaculate Conception, Blessed Virgin, etc.
If we dig deeper into the subject, we realise that the shrines created in honour of the Virgin, whether they are linked to apparitions of the Virgin or not, have contributed to giving new names. We can mention Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes, Notre-Dame-des-Neiges, Notre-Dame-de-Bonne-Garde, Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, Notre-Dame-des-Cyclistes, ... the list is endless.
This diversity of names reveals the extent to which Christians need to make the holy mary their own in their daily lives. Recourse to the Mother of God is a universal phenomenon which takes on a personal dimension for each community.
The multiplicity of these names poses absolutely no problem for the Catholic Church. The councils and popes were the first to diversify the names of Mary. Their aim was to highlight particular characteristics or qualities of the holy mary.
The term "Mother of God" is a reminder of the Holy Trinity, the term "Immaculate Conception" reveals that the Holy Mary was destined from the moment of her conception to be the Mother of Christ.
If we refer to the Gospels, and in particular to that of Saint Luke, the archangel Gabriel greets her as "filled with graces". In Christian worship, the Mother of God can only be endowed with all the moral qualities and virtues that can be expected of this woman who begat our Redeemer.
The subject of Mary's virtues, like that of the names given to her, is inexhaustible. This is why this theme will be the subject of a future article on the Rosary Palace blog.