Mary, Aramaic, Hebrew: Maryām, Miriam; Arabic Maryam, was known as a Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee. Israel’s Tourism Ministry has launched tours for Christian pilgrims who would like to know more about the life of Mary, mother of Jesus.
Tour operators are able to plan special pilgrimages for tourists who wish to trace Mary’s footsteps in the Holy Land, visiting the spots where she is supposed to have lived and traveled.
Inside view of the Tomb of the Virgin Mary and Altar
The itinerary includes Mary’s birthplace near Nazareth, located in northern Israel, her Tomb near Jerusalem, Mary’s Spring, and more. In addition, the Israeli government has coordinated its efforts with the Palestinian Authority so as to facilitate trips to Bethlehem and other Christian holy sites in Judea and Samaria.
For Christians, “the Holy Land is the physical connection with the life of Jesus,” Friar Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Roman Catholic Church custodian of the Holy Land explained that one could not talk about the life of Jesus without also talking about his mother, however.
A full-color booklet outlining the new itinerary in English will also be translated into Spanish, French, Italian, Polish and Portuguese. The English name “Mary” comes from the Greek Μαρία, which is a shortened form of Μαριάμ. The New Testament name was based on her original Hebrew name Miryam.
Early writings name her parents as Joachim and Anne. However, in the canonical New Testament the gospel of Luke suggests that Mary’s father to be Heli the son of Matthat. According to the apocryphal Gospel of James Mary was the daughter of Joachim and Anne. She resided at Nazareth in Galilee, presumably with her parents and during her betrothal–the first stage of a Jewish marriage.
Mary is involved in the only event in Jesus’ adolescent life that is recorded in the New Testament. At the age of twelve Jesus, having become separated from his parents on their return journey from the Passover celebration in Jerusalem, was found among the teachers in the temple.
After Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist and his temptations by the devil in the desert, Mary was present when, at her intercession, Jesus worked his first public miracle during the marriage in Cana by turning water into wine. Subsequently there are events when Mary is present along with James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas, called Jesus’ brothers, and unnamed “sisters”.
Outside view of the Tomb of the Virgin Mary
There is also an incident in which Jesus is sometimes interpreted as rejecting his family. “And his mother and his brothers arrived, and standing outside, they sent in a message asking for him. And looking at those who sat in a circle around him, Jesus said, ‘These are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother.’”
According to some traditions, Mary died surrounded by the apostles (in either Jerusalem or Ephesus) between three days and 24 years after Jesus death. The House of Mary near Ephesus in Turkey is traditionally considered the place where Mary lived until her assumption. The Gospel of John states that Mary went to live with the Disciple whom Jesus loved, identified as John the Evangelist. Irenaeus and Eusebius of Caesarea wrote in their histories that John later went to Ephesus, which may provide the basis for the early belief that Mary also lived in Ephesus with John.
Christian devotion to Mary goes back to the 2nd century and predates the emergence of a specific Marian liturgical system in the 5th century, following the First Council of Ephesus in 431. The Council itself was held at a church in Ephesus which had been dedicated to Mary about a hundred years before. In Egypt the veneration of Mary had started in the 3rd century and the term Theotokos was used by Origen, the Alexandrian Father of the Church.
Christian Marian perspectves include a great deal of diversity. While some Christians such as Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox have well established Marian traditions, Protestants at large pay scant attention to Mariological themes. Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, and some Lutherans venerate Mary. This veneration especially takes the form of prayer for intercession with her son, Jesus.
The apocryphal Protoevangelium of James, which is not part of new testament scripture, has been the source of many Orthodox beliefs on Mary. The account of Mary’s life presented includes her consecration as a virgin at the temple at age three. The High Priest Zachariah blessed Mary and informed her that God had magnified her name among many generations.
Zachariah placed Mary on the third step of the altar, whereby God gave her grace. While in the temple, Mary was miraculously fed by an angel, until she was twelve years old. At that point an angel told Zachariah to betroth Mary to a widower in Israel, who would be indicated. This story provides the theme of many hymns for the Feast of Presentation of Mary, and icons of the feast depict the story.
The Orthodox believe that Mary was instrumental in the growth of Christianity during the life of Jesus, and after his Crucifixion, and Orthodox Theologian Sergei Bulgakov wrote: “The Virgin Mary is the center, invisible, but real, of the Apostolic Church”
Theologians from the Orthodox tradition have made prominent contributions to the development of Marian thought and devotion. John Damascene (c 650─c 750) was one of the greatest Orthodox theologians. Among other Marian writings, he proclaimed the essential nature of Mary’s heavenly Assumption or Dormition and her mediative role.
Protestants typically hold that Mary was the mother of Jesus, but was an ordinary woman devoted to God. Therefore, there is virtually no Marian veneration, Marian feasts, Marian pilgrimages, Marian art, Marian music or Marian spirituality in today’s Protestant communities.
Islamic views on Mary: Islam regards Mary as the virgin mother of Jesus who they believe was one of the prophets. In the Qur’an, Mary has one of the biggest chapters. She is treated in the Sura Maryam and Al-i imran. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is mentioned as Maryam, more in the Qur’an than in the entire New Testament. She enjoys a singularly distinguished and honored position among women in the Qur’an.
A chapter in the Qur’an is titled “Maryam” (Mary), which is the only chapter in the Qur’an named after a woman, in which the story of Mary (Maryam) and Jesus(Isa) is recounted according to the Islamic view of Jesus. She is mentioned in the Qur’an with the honorific title of “our lady” (syyidatuna) as the daughter of Imran and Hannah.
She is the only woman directly named in the Qur’an; declared (uniquely along with Jesus) to be a Sign of God to mankind Qur’an 23:50, as one who “guarded her chastity” Qur’an 66:12, an obedient one Qur’an 66:12; chosen of her mother and dedicated to God whilst still in the womb Qur’an 3:36; uniquely (amongst women) Accepted into service by God Qur’an 3:37; cared for by (one of the prophets as per Islam) Zakariya (Zacharias) Qur’an 3:37; that in her childhood she resided in the great Hebrew Temple in Jerusalem and uniquely had access to Al-Mihrab (understood to be the Holy of Holies), and was provided with heavenly ‘provisions’ by God Qur’an 3:37.
Mary is also called a Chosen One Qur’an 3:42; a Purified One Qua’an 3:42; a Truthful one Qur’an 5:75; her child conceived through “a Word from God” Qur’an 3:45; and “exalted above all women of The Worlds/Universes (the material and heavenly worlds)” Qur’an 3:42.
The Qur’an relates detailed narrative accounts of Maryam (Mary) in two places Sura 3 Qur’an 3:35 and Sura 19 Qur’an 19:16. These state beliefs in both the Immaculate Conception of Mary and the Virgin birth of Jesus. The account given in Sura 19 Qur’an 19:1 of the Qur’an is nearly identical with that in the Gospel according to Luke, and both of these (Luke, Sura 19) begin with an account of the visitation of an angel upon Zakariya (Zecharias) and Good News of the birth of Yahya (John), followed by the account of the annunciation. It mentions how Mary was informed by an angel that she would become the mother of Jesus through the actions of God alone.
In the Islamic tradition, Mary and Jesus were the only children who could not be touched by Satan at the moment of their birth, for God imposed a veil between them and Satan. According to author Shabbir Akhtar, the Islamic perspective on Mary’s Immaculate Conception is compatible with the Catholic doctrine of the same topic. The Qur’an says that Jesus was the result of a virgin birth. The most detailed account of the annunciation and birth of Jesus is provided in Sura 3 and 19 of The Qur’an wherein it is written that God sent an angel to announce that she could shortly expect to bear a son, despite being a virgin.
Other views; To date, scholars continue to debate the accounts of the birth of Jesus from several perspectives, including textual analysis, historical records and post-apostolic witnesses.
The Virgin Mary was worshipped as a Mother goddess in the heretical Christian sect Collyridianism, which was found throughout Arabia sometime during the 300s AD. Collyrdianism was made up mostly of women and even had women priests. They were known to make bread offerings to the Virgin Mary, along with other practices. The group was condemned as heretical by the Roman Catholic Church and was preached against by Epiphanius of Salamis, who wrote about the group in his writings titled Panarion.
From the early stages of Christianity, belief in the virginity of Mary and the virgin conception of Jesus, as stated in the gospels, holy and supernatural, was used by detractors, both political and religious, as a topic for discussions, debates and writings, specifically aimed to challenge the divinity of Jesus and thus Christians and Christianity alike. In the 2nd century, as part of the earliest anti-Christian polemics, Celsus suggested that Jesus was the illegitimate son of a Roman soldier named Panthera. The views of Celsus drew responses from Origen, the Church Father in Alexandria, Egypt.
In December 2010, Catherine Lawless of the University of Limerick stated that by analyzing 15th-century Florentine manuscripts, she had concluded that Ismeria was the maternal grandmother of Mary.