All those who have studied the Bible know it: Mary, the mother of Jesus. People in many religions and in many places in the world worship her. Who is this saint and "Mother of God"? What does the Bible say about her? What place does she occupy in Christianity? And, is she also a model for women today?
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The life of Mary Mother of Jesus
Mary, a Jewish woman from Palestine and mother of Jesus, plays only a minor role in the Bible. Who was Mary? The Holy Scriptures give only vague information about her.
Mary in the Bible
Nothing is written in the Bible about Mary's parentage or youth. In the New Testament, she appears by name in the birth narratives of the Evangelists Matthew and Luke and in the Acts of the Apostles, where she is often referred to as "Mother of Jesus" However, the texts of the two evangelists do not count as reliable biographical sources, since the proclamation of Jesus Christ is central to them.
An indication of their prominent position is given by the words of the angel Gabriel in Luke 1:28-30:
And he came in to her and said: Hail, beloved! The Lord is with you. But she was dismayed at the word and wondered what kind of greeting it was. And the angel said to her, "Fear not, Mary. For you have found favour with God.
Mary's life is only described in more detail in religious writings outside the Bible - the so-called Apocrypha. However, these are not intended as an account, but as a personal interpretation of an event by its author. An example is the Protoevangelium of James from the 2nd century, which refers to the Gospels. In it we read, among other things, that Mary is the daughter of the owner of the flock, Joachim, and his wife Anne.
Since the Bible tells only a little about Mary, legends and myths have formed around the Mother of God. A myth is also the biblical statement that Mary was still a virgin when Jesus was born. Only the Greek translation turned a 'young woman', as the original Hebrew says, into a 'virgin'. The virgin myth, however, has become the starting point for a deep Marian devotion in the Catholic Church.
Mary and Jesus
During the Christmas season, as a believer, there is no getting around Mary: no nativity set without the 'Mother of God', who gave birth to the Son of God and Saviour in perfect purity. After his birth he had to flee to Egypt to save his newborn son from Herod's persecution. When they finally returned to their hometown of Nazareth, Jesus spent more time in the temple and with people on the fringes of society than with his own family. The relationship with his mother was not without its tensions. Thus, in the biblical passage about the wedding in Canaan (John 2:4), Jesus asked his mother: "Woman, what shall I do with you? My hour is not yet come". With this he expressed that he obeyed his own law and that faith in God was more important than family. Nevertheless, Mary remained the first disciple at her Son's side and lived through even his most difficult hours - torture and death in the cross. She died according to different hypotheses, both in Israel and Turkey. According to Christian tradition, she is buried in Mary's tomb in the Kidron Valley in Jerusalem.
Marian devotion in Christianity
Although historically the Gospels testify to Mary only indirectly and neglect her in their texts, the veneration of Mary, which originated in popular piety, plays an important role in the official teaching of the Church. Why is Mary, the mother of Jesus, so venerated by the faithful? Mary was no one special, just one girl among many. But her deep faith and trust in God distinguished her from other women of her age.
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