The mother of Jesus, Mary of Nazareth, also known as the Virgin Mary, is one of the most revered women in history, beloved and revered by several denominations. Here’s a look at what makes Mary so unique.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
– Isaiah 9:6
We know Mary is special because the Bible tells us that the angel Gabriel told her the Lord highly favored her.
The Bible tells us that Mary, a Jewish woman, lived in the first century in Nazareth. She was a virgin, engaged to marry Joseph.
Mary’s lineage traces back to David (hers is in the book of Luke, Joseph’s lineage to David is in the book of Matthew).
The Bible and the Koran tell us that Jesus was conceived through Immaculate Conception, impregnated by the Holy Spirit while still a virgin.
Mary was informed of this by the angel Gabriel.
“The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.'”
To venerate someone is to revere them and regard them with great respect.
Certain denominations, in particular Catholicism, High Church Lutheranism, Anglo-Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Oriental Orthodoxy, practice Marian devotions. These consist of special prayers or acts, which may be accompanied by specific requests for Mary’s intercession with God.
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
– Matthew 18:20
Some believe the above verse supports the idea of praying to Mary asking for her intercession, adding power to prayers.
Some denominations are wrongly accused of worshiping Mary. However, those who pray to Mary and venerate her say their reverence of Mary stems from her importance. God chose her to give birth to the son of God, viewing her as a “new Eve,” and they envision her as our spiritual mother and a heavenly advocate.
Another phenomenon surrounding the virgin Mary is her reported supernatural appearances, also called Marian apparitions. These have consisted of dreams, visions, and the alleged perception of Mary and natural phenomena that would be ordinarily unexplainable, including believed miracles such as weeping statues.
While the Catholic Church believes these are possible, it believes most are imagined and maintains standards for validating such apparitions.
There have been many Marian apparitions, but possibly the most well-known of all time is Our Lady of Fátima, where Mary appeared to three shepherd children in Portugal in 1917, giving them three secrets that were to be revealed over time.