The Early Christians Speak on Mary

Scriptural Praises | Church Fathers

Frequently Asked Questions about Mary

I have walked in the waves of the sea, (Eccles 24:8).I walk with my servants in the midst of the tempest to which they are constantly exposed (says Our Lady), to assist and preserve them from falling into sin.

Ecclesiasticus 24:24

I am the Mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and holy hope.

Ecclesiasticus 4:15

They that serve Her shall be servants to the Holy One; and GOD loves them that love Her.

Wisdom 7:26

For she is a vapor of the power of GOD, and a certain pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty GOD; and therefore no defiled thing comes into her. For she is the brightness of Eternal Light, and the unspotted mirror of God's Majesty, and the image of His Goodness.

Proverbs 8:35

Who finds me finds life, and draws salvation from the Lord.

Judges 8:22

Rule you over us, you and your Son

Judith 15; 10

You are the glory of Jerusalem! You are the great pride of Israel! You are the highest honour of our race!

Ezekial 44:2-3

He said to me: This gate is to remain closed; it is not to be opened for anyone to enter by it; since the LORD, the God of Israel, has entered by it, it shall remain closed. Only the prince may sit down in it to eat his meal in the presence of the LORD. He must enter by way of the vestibule of the gate, and leave by the same way.

The above is a reference to Mary's perpetual virginity .

Luke 1:48

for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.

The Early Christians Speak


On the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven:  

St. Epiphanius, (A.D. 377)

"If the Holy Virgin had died and was buried, her falling asleep would have been surrounded with honour, death would have found her pure, and her
crown would have been a virginal one...Had she been martyred according to what is written: 'Thine own soul a sword shall pierce', then she would shine
gloriously among the martyrs, and her holy body would have been declared blessed; for by her, did light come to the world." - Panarion,78:23,in PG 42:737

Gregory of Tours (inter A.D. 575-593)

"[T]he Apostles took up her body on a bier and placed it in a tomb; and they guarded it, expecting the Lord to come. And behold, again the Lord
stood by them; and the holy body having been received, He commanded that it be taken in a cloud into paradise: where now, rejoined to the soul,
[Mary] rejoices with the Lord's chosen ones..." -  Eight Books of Miracles,1:4,inJUR,III:306

Modestus of Jerusalem (ante A.D.634)

"As the most glorious Mother of Christ,our Savior and God and the giver of life and immortality, has been endowed with life by him, she has received an
eternal incorruptibility of the body together with him who has raised her up from the tomb and has taken her up to himself in a way known only to him." -
,Encomium in dormitionnem Sanctissimae Dominae nostrae Deiparae semperque Virginis Mariae(PG 86-II,3306),from Munificentis simus Deus

Theoteknos of Livias, (ante A.D. 650)

"It was fitting ... that the most holy-body of Mary, God-bearing body, receptacle of God, divinised, incorruptible, illuminated by divine grace and
full glory ... should be entrusted to the earth for a little while and raised up toheaven in glory, with her soul pleasing to God." - Homily on the Assumption, in THEO,57

Germanus of Constantinople (ante A.D. 733)

"You are she who, as it is written, appears in beauty, and your virginal body is all holy, all chaste, entirely the dewlling place of God, so that it is
henceforth completely exempt from dissoultion into dust. Though still human, it is changed into the heavenly life of incorruptibility, truly living and
glorious, undamaged and sharing in perfect life." - ,Sermon I(PG 98,346),,from Munificentis simus Deus

St. John of Damascene, (ante A.D. 749)

"It was fitting that the she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was
fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles. It was fitting that the spouse, whom the
Father had taken to himself, should live in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby
received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped when giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father, It was
fitting that God's Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid
of God"  - Dormition of Mary (PG 96,741), from Munificentis simus Deus

John of Damascene (A.D. 747-751)

" 'St. Juvenal, Bishop of Jerusalem, at the Council of Chalcedon (451), made known to the Emperor Marcian and Pulcheria, who wished to possess
the body of the Mother of God, that Mary died in the presence of all the Apostles, but that her tomb, when opened upon the request of St. Thomas,
was found empty; wherefrom the Apostles concluded that the body was taken up to heaven.' " - PG(96:1)

Gregorian Sacramentary, (ante A.D. 795)

"Venerable to us, O Lord, is the festivity of this day on which the holy Mother of God suffered temporal death, but still could not be kept down by
the bonds of death, who has begotten Thy Son our Lord incarnate from herself." - Veneranda, from Munificentis simus Deus

Timotheus of Jerusalem (6th-8th century)

"[A]n effable mystery all the more worthy of praise as the Virgin's Assumption is something unique among men."
Gallican Sacramentary, from Munificentis simus Deus "God, the King of the universe, has granted you favors that surpass nature. As he kept you virgin in childbirth, thus he kept your body incorrupt in the tomb and has glorified it by his divine act of transferring it from the tomb."
Byzantine Liturgy, from Munificentis simus Deus "[T]he virgin is up to now immortal, as He who lived, translated her into the place of reception" in OTT,208


Mary as the Second Eve:

St. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho (155 A.D.):

"For Eve, a Virgin and undefiled, conceived the word of the serpent, and bore disobedience and death. But the Virgin Mary received faith and joy when the angel Gabriel announced to her the glad tidings that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon her and the power of the Most High God. And she replied: 'Be it done unto me according to thy word.'"

St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies (C. 180 A.D.):

"Consequently, then, Mary the Virgin is found to be obedient, saying:' Behold, O Lord, your handmaid; be it done to me according to your word.' Eve, however, was disobedient; and when yet a Virgin, she did not obey. So also Mary, betrothed to a man but nevertheless still a virgin, being obedient, was made the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race...Thus, the knot of Eve's disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. What the virgin had bound in unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosed through faith."

Tertullian, The Flesh of Christ (C. 210 A.D.):

"Likewise, through a Virgin, the Word of God was introduced to setup a structure of life. Thus, what had been laid waste in ruin by this sex, was by the same sex re-established in salvation. Eve had believed the serpent; Mary believed Gabriel. That which the one destroyed by believing, the other, by believing, set straight."

St. Ambrose of Milan, The Virgins (377 A.D.):

"Mary's life should be for you a pictorial image of virginity. Her life is like a mirror reflecting the face of chastity and the form of virtue. Therein you may find a model for your own life...showing what to improve, what to imitate, what to hold fast to."

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Scholia on the Incarnation of the Only-Begotten(Post 431 A.D.):

"The Word, then, was God, and He became also Man; and since He was born according to the flesh for the sake of mankind, it is necessary that she who bore Him is the Mother of God. For if she did not bear God, neither is He that was born of her to be called God. If the divinely inspired Scriptures name Him God, as God having been made man and incarnate, He could not become Man in any other way than through birth from a woman: how then should she who bore Him not be the Mother of God?"


On Mary as the Mother of God:

St. Irenaeus of Lyons (Martyr, Bishop of Lyons, died 202 A. D.)

'The Virgin Mary, being obedient to his word, received from an angel the glad tidings that she would bear God' (Against Heresies, 5:19:1 [189 A.D.]).

St. Hippolytus of Rome, died 235 A. D.

'[T]o all generations they [the prophets] have pictured forth the grandest subjects for contemplation and for action. Thus, too, they preached of the advent of God in the flesh to the world, His advent by the spotless and God-bearing (theotokos) Mary in the way of birth and growth, and the manner of His life and conversation with men, and His manifestation by baptism, and the new birth that was to be to all men, and the regeneration by the laver [of baptism]' (Discourse on the End of the World 1 [217 A.D.]).

St. Gregory the Wonderworker (c. 213-270/275 A. D.)

'For Luke, in the inspired Gospel narratives, delivers a testimony not to Joseph only, but also to Mary the Mother of God, and gives this account with reference to the very family and house of David' (Four Homilies 1 [262 A.D.]).

St. Gregory the Wonderworker

'It is our duty to present to God, like sacrifices, all the festivals and hymnal celebrations; and first of all, [the feast of] The Annunciation to the holy Mother of God, to wit, the salutation made to her by the angel, 'Hail, full of grace!'' (ibid., 2).

St. Peter of Alexandria (Martyr, Bishop of Alexandria, died c. 311 A. D.)

'[T]hey [those engaged in the public transport service] came to the church of the most blessed Mother of God, and Ever-Virgin Mary, which, as we began to say, he had constructed in the western quarter, in a suburb, for a cemetery of the martyrs' (The Genuine Acts of Peter of Alexandria [305 A.D.]).

St. Methodius (Martyr, Bishop of Philippi, died c. 311 A. D.)

'While the old man [Simeon] was thus exultant, and rejoicing with exceeding great and holy joy, that which had before been spoken of in a figure by the prophet Isaiah, the holy Mother of God now manifestly fulfilled' (Oration on Simeon and Anna 7 [A.D. 305]).

St. Methodius

'Hail to thee for ever, you virgin Mother of God, our unceasing joy, for unto thee do I again return. . . . Hail, you fount of the Son's love for man. . . . Wherefore, we pray thee, the most excellent among women, who boasts in the confidence of your maternal honors, that you would unceasingly keep us in remembrance. O holy Mother of God, remember us, I say, who make our boast in thee, and who in hymns august celebrate the memory, which will ever live, and never fade away' (ibid., 14).

Alexander of Alexandria (died 328 A. D.)

'We acknowledge the resurrection of the dead, of which Jesus Christ our Lord became the firstling; he bore a body not in appearance but in truth derived from Mary the Mother of God' (Letter to All Non-Egyptian Bishops 12 [324 A.D.]).

St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Bishop of Jerusalem, 319-386 A. D.)

'The Father bears witness from heaven to his Son. The Holy Spirit bears witness, coming down bodily in the form of a dove. The Archangel Gabriel bears witness, bringing the good tidings to Mary. The Virgin Mother of God bears witness' (Catechetical Lectures 10:19 [350 A.D.]).

St. Ephraim the Syrian (Deacon, died 373 A. D.)

'Though still a virgin she carried a child in her womb, and the handmaid and work of his wisdom became the Mother of God' (Songs of Praise 1:20 [351 A.D.]).

St. Athanasius (c. 295-373 A. D.)

'The Word begotten of the Father from on high, inexpressibly, inexplicably, incomprehensibly, and eternally, is he that is born in time here below of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God' (The Incarnation of the Word of God 8 [365 A.D.]).

Epiphanius of Salamis (Bishop of Salamis, c. 315-403 A. D.)

'Being perfect at the side of the Father and incarnate among us, not in appearance but in truth, he [the Son] reshaped man to perfection in himself from Mary the Mother of God through the Holy Spirit' (The Man Well-Anchored 75 [374 A.D.]).

St. Ambrose of Milan (Bishop of Milan, 339-397 A. D.)

'The first thing which kindles ardor in learning is the greatness of the teacher. What is greater than the Mother of God? What more glorious than she whom Glory Itself chose?' (The Virgins 2:2[7] [377 A.D.]).

St. Gregory of Nazianz (c. 330-c. 389 A. D.)''

'If anyone does not agree that Holy Mary is Mother of God, he is at odds with the Godhead' (Letter to Cledonius the Priest 101 [382 A.D.]).

St. Jerome (Author of the Vulgate, 347-420 A. D.)

'As to how a virgin became the Mother of God, he [Rufinius] has full knowledge; as to how he himself was born, he knows nothing' (Against Rufinus 2:10 [401 A.D.]).

St. Jerome

'Do not marvel at the novelty of the thing, if a Virgin gives birth to God' (Commentaries on Isaiah 3:7:15 [409 A.D.]).

St. Cyril of Alexandria (Patriarch of Alexandria, died 444 A. D.)

'I have been amazed that some are utterly in doubt as to whether or not the Holy Virgin is able to be called the Mother of God. For if our Lord Jesus Christ is God, how should the Holy Virgin who bore him not be the Mother of God?' (Letter to the Monks of Egypt 1 [427 A.D.]).

St. Cyril of Alexandria

'This expression, however, 'the Word was made flesh' [John 1:14], can mean nothing else but that he partook of flesh and blood like to us; he made our body his own, and came forth man from a woman, not casting off his existence as God, or his generation of God the Father, but even in taking to himself flesh remaining what he was. This the declaration of the correct faith proclaims everywhere. This was the sentiment of the holy Fathers; therefore they ventured to call the holy Virgin, the Mother of God, not as if the nature of the Word or his divinity had its beginning from the holy Virgin, but because of her was born that holy body with a rational soul, to which the Word, being personally united, is said to be born according to the flesh' (First Letter to Nestorius [430 A.D.]).

St. Cyril of Alexandria

'And since the holy Virgin corporally brought forth God made one with flesh according to nature, for this reason we also call her Mother of God, not as if the nature of the Word had the beginning of its existence from the flesh' (Third Letter to Nestorius [430 A.D.]).

St. Cyril of Alexandria

'If anyone will not confess that the Emmanuel is very God, and that therefore the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God, inasmuch as in the flesh she bore the Word of God made flesh [John 1:14]: let him be anathema' (ibid.).

St. John Cassian (c. 360/365-435 A. D.)

'Now, you heretic, you say (whoever you are who deny that God was born of the Virgin), that Mary, the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, cannot be called the Mother of God, but the Mother only of Christ and not of God, for no one, you say, gives birth to one older than herself. And concerning this utterly stupid argument'let us prove by divine testimonies both that Christ is God and that Mary is the Mother of God' (On the Incarnation of Christ Against Nestorius 2:2 [429 A.D.]).

St. John Cassian

'You cannot then help admitting that the grace comes from God. It is God then who has given it. But it has been given by our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore the Lord Jesus Christ is God. But if He is God, as he certainly is, then she who bore God is the Mother of God' (ibid., 2:5).

Council of Ephesus (431 A. D.)

'We confess, then, our lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God perfect God and perfect man of a rational soul and a body, begotten before all ages from the Father in his godhead, the same in the last days, for us and for our salvation, born of Mary the virgin, according to his humanity, one and the same consubstantial with the Father in godhead and consubstantial with us in humanity, for a union of two natures took place. Therefore we confess one Christ, one Son, one Lord. According to this understanding of the unconfused union, we confess the holy virgin to be the Mother of God because God the Word took flesh and became man and from his very conception united to himself the temple he took from her' (Formula of Union [431 A.D.]).

St. Vincent of Lerins (died before 450 A. D.)

'Nestorius, whose disease is of an opposite kind, while pretending that he holds two distinct substances in Christ, brings in of a sudden two Persons, and with unheard of wickedness would have two sons of God, two Christs, -- one, God, the other, man; one, begotten of his Father, the other, born of his mother. For which reason he maintains that Saint Mary ought to be called, not the Mother of God, but the mother of Christ' (The Notebooks 12[35] [434 A.D.]).