THE TITLES OF MARY

   The Blessed Virgin Mary is known by many titles. Some of these are outlined below.

The Blessed Mother. She is called blessed because of the scriptural references. Her kinswoman Elizabeth told her "Blessed are you among women..." Luke 1:42. Mary herself said "All generations will call me blessed" Luke 1:48.

Mother of God. Perhaps her most common and most profound title is Mother of God. She was declared to be the Mother of God at the Council of Ephesus in 431. That council decreed Can. 1. If anyone does not confess that God is truly Emmanuel, and that on this account the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God (for according to the flesh she gave birth to the Word of God become flesh by birth), let him be anathema. The Council of Ephesus was called to combat the heresy of Nestorianism, which held that in Jesus Christ there were two persons. The official title given to her at the Council of Ephesus was Theotokos which means "God-Bearer". For this reason she is also known as "The Ark of the New Covenant". The Church celebrates her title of "Mother of God" with a solemnity on January 1st.

Mother of the Church. Because the Church is Jesus Christ, and Mary His mother, it is only logical to call her Mother of the Church. Our Lord also indicated that Mary be the mother of the Church when He presented her to St. John at the foot of the cross, with the words "Behold your mother." John 19:27. Pope Leo XIII, and Paul VI both declared that she have this title.

The Immaculate Conception. Mary was declared to have been conceived without original sin by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854. The Church makes the anniversary of Pius IX's declaration December 8th a solemnity.

Our Lady of Lourdes. Just a few years after the declaration of Pius IX, in 1858 The Blessed Virgin identified herself by this title in a private revelation to St. Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes in France. She asked the young Bernadette to drink from a spring where none existed. Bernadette scratched the surface and water began flowing which has not stopped since. The Church honors these events and remembers them with the optional memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes on February 11th. This is the only title of Our Lady in the universal calendar based on an apparition.

Queen of Heaven. She is known as Queen of Heaven because of scripture. "And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under feet, an on her head a crown of twelve stars;" Revelation 12:1. She is often depicted in statue form, with these symbols in place. The Church celebrates this title with a memorial on August 22 each year. This tile is also honored by our meditation on the last glorious mystery of the Rosary.

Our Lady of the Rosary. She is known by this title by proclamation of Pope St. Pius V. In the 16th century, the Islamic Turks had prepared a huge fleet to sail west to attack southern Europe. The pope begged that all Christians pray the Rosary for deliverance. The Turks were defeated at the great naval battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571. In gratitude that the tide of history had been changed, Pius declared that October 7 would be remembered, and Mary known by this title. The memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary on October 7 survives to this day.

Our Lady of Sorrows. This is another title bestowed through scripture. When Mary and St. Joseph brought the infant Jesus to the temple they were met by St. Simeon who told her "a sword will pierce through your own soul also" (Luke 2:35). This prophesy of sorrow itself is general, while scripture has enumerated them. Over the years the number of sorrows attached to this title has solidified into seven, which traditionally are: the prophecy of Simeon, flight into Egypt, loss of Jesus in the temple, way of the cross, crucifixion, the taking down from the cross, and burial. The Church commemorates this title with a memorial on September 15.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Hermits living on Mount Carmel in the Palestine area dedicated a chapel to the Blessed Virgin. The order later spread and carried dedication to the Blessed Virgin with them through the brown scapular. This order eventually became known as the Carmelites. The optional memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is celebrated on July 16.

Perhaps the simplest title is the one that shows she elicits love from anyone who considers her. She is simply, "Our Lady".

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Published by The Minnesota St. Thomas More Chapter of Catholics United for the Faith, April 2003.