MARY, the mother of Jesus. At the time when the gospel history begins, she had her home in Galilee, at the village of Nazareth.
Of her parentage nothing is recorded in any extant historical document of the 1st century, for the genealogy in Luke iii. (cf.
i. 27) is manifestly that of Joseph.
In early life she became the wife of Joseph (q.v.) and the mother of Jesus Christ ; that she afterwards had other children is inferred by some from Matt. i. 25.
The few incidents mentioned in Scripture about her show that she followed our Lord to the very close of His earthly career with unfailing motherliness, but the "Magnificat" assigned to her in Luke i. is the only passage which would distinctly im ply on her part a high prophetic appreciation of His divine mis sion. It is however doubtful whether Luke really intended to assign this hymn to Mary or to Elizabeth (cf. especially Niceta of Remesiana by A. E. Burn, Cambridge, 1905 ; Harnack's "Das Magnificat der Elizabeth" in the Sitzungsberichte of the Berlin Academy for 1900, and Burkitt's "Who spoke the Magnificat?" in the Journal of Theological Studies, Jan. 1906). The original text of Luke probably mentioned no name in introducing the Magnificat ; scribes supplied the ambiguity by inserting, some Mary, others Elizabeth. It is doubtful which represents the in tention of the writer : there is perhaps more to be said for the view that he meant to assign the Magnificat to Elizabeth. The Fourth Gospel records that Mary was present at the Crucifixion, where she was commended by Jesus to the care of the Apostle John (John xix. 26 f.), Joseph having apparently died before this time. Mary is mentioned in Acts i. 14 as having been among those who continued in prayer along with the apostles at Jerusalem dur ing the interval between the Ascension and Pentecost. There is no mention in the New Testament of the time or place of her death. The subsequent growth of ecclesiastical tradition, legend and belief regarding Mary will be traced most conveniently under the separate heads of (I) her perpetual virginity, (2) her absolute sinlessness, (3) her peculiar relation to the Godhead, which spe cially fits her for successful intercession on behalf of mankind.
Icarapeevla, though very ancient, is in reality a doctrine of non Catholic origin, and first occurs in a work proscribed by the ear liest papal Index librorum prohibitorum (attributed to Gelasius) as heretical—the so-called Protevangelium Jacobi, written, it is generally admitted, within the 2nd century. According to this very early romance, which seems to have formed the basis of the later Liber de infantia Mariae et Christi salvatoris and Evangelium de nativitate Mariae, the name of Mary's father was Joachim (in the Liber de infantia a shepherd of the tribe of Judah, living in Jerusalem) ; he had long been married to Anna her mother, whose continual childlessness had become a cause of much humiliation and sorrow to them both. The birth of a daughter was at last angelically predicted to each parent sep arately. From her third to her twelfth year "Mary was in the Temple of the Lord as a dove that is nurtured ; and she received food from the hand of an angel." When she became of nubile age a guardian was sought for her by the priests among the widowers of Israel "lest she should defile the sanctuary of the Lord"; and Joseph, an elderly man with a family, was indicated for this charge by a miraculous token. Some time afterwards the annunciation took place; when the Virgin's pregnancy was dis covered, Joseph and she were brought before the high priest, and, though asserting their innocence in all sincerity, were ac quitted only after they had been tried with "the water of the ordeal of the Lord" (Num. v. ff.). Numerous details regarding the birth at Bethlehem are then given. To Jerome the perpetual virginity not only of Mary but even of Joseph appeared of so much consequence that while a young man he wrote (387) the long and vehement tract Against Helvidius, in which he was the first to broach the theory (which has since gained wide cur rency) that the brethren of our Lord were children neither of Mary by her husband nor of Joseph by a former marriage, but of another Mary, sister to the Virgin and wife of Clopas or Alphaeus. At last the epithet of 6.€1 rapNvos was authoritatively applied to the Virgin by the council of Chalcedon in 451, and the doctrine implied has ever since been an undisputed point of orthodoxy both in the Eastern and in the Roman Churches, some even seeking to hold the Anglican Church committed to it on ac count of the general declaration (in the Homilies) of concurrence in the decisions of the first four general councils.