Naturally, everyone knows about the biblical Mary. The woman is an icon of epic proportions. Images of her are ubiquitous, and yet Anglican, eastern Orthodox, Islamic (yes), Lutheran, Protestant, and Catholic all hold different views about her.
With that in mind, remember this as I offer a few pieces of information about the Virgin Mother. Dogma and opinions vary!
WARNING: The following is non-academic.
For scholarly information check out the University of Dayton’s The Mary Page, which has amassed the world’s largest collection of printed material about Mary
or The New Advent Organization, Catholic Encyclopedia.
And for all you Catholics out there, don’t forget, the Pope Tweets. His handle is: @Pontifex
A few non-academic Mary facts:
- Mary is known by many names. Here are a few: In Hebrew she is Miriam; in Arabic, Maryam. She also goes by Saint Mary, Mother Mary, Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, Bearer of God, Mother of the Church, and Our Lady.
- She was born in the late 1st century BC and died sometime in the 1st centaury AD
- She is identified in both the Qur’an and New Testament
- Mary was engaged ( betrothed) to Joseph at 12 years old ( this was typical)
- Both Mary and Joseph were from the House of David and from the Tribe of Judah. The genealogical aspect is fascinating.
- The Angel Gabriel gives her the prophetic news during her betrothal.
- Joseph is informed by an angel several months later—important, since there is no way he would have married a non-virgin.
- Mary and Joseph complete wedding rites.
- Elizabeth greets Mary as “the mother of my Lord.”
- By order of Roman Emperor Augustus (Octavious- Julius Caesar’s adopted son), Joseph had to return to his home town of Bethlehem to be taxed (the Romans were tax-happy—but that’s another story).
- Mary gave birth to Jesus at 13 yrs old and canonical gospels attest to her virginity.
- Per Jewish law, Jesus is circumcised 8 days later.
- A month or so later, Jesus is presented to the temple. Mary makes the traditional burnt offering for her sins and is thereby “cleansed.”
- Months later, Wise men pay homage with their symbolic gifts The word Magi describes the Zoroastrian priests who used astrology. Note: Our word magic comes from Magi.
- Gold is a symbol of royalty, kingship, or virtue.
- Frankincense, an incense, is the symbol for a deity, or prayer.
- Myrrh, an oil used to embalm, was a symbol of death, or suffering
- The gospel of Luke mentions Mary the most—12 times. Matthew refers to her 6 times. John, twice; Mark, only once.
- Mary is mentioned when 12 yr old Jesus stays to teach in the Jerusalem temple.
- Mary watches her son turn water into wine.
- She was believed to be present at her son’s crucifixion ( a favorite Roman death sentence).
- Mary disappears from scripture after she is mentioned attending a meeting with the 11 apostles
- Some religions believe her physical body ascended to heaven after she died—her grave was found empty
- Nobody knows exactly when she died: There are no records. If you do the math, Mary would have been 46 yrs old at the time of her son’s crucifixion. This was well past the average life expectancy of the time.
My humblest apologies if I got some information wrong.
There is a wealth of information about Mary of Nazareth. If you’re a reader of Dan Brown, you might wonder if, in fact, the Vatican secret treasure vault holds more information about this mysterious figure. Who knows?