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Quote Archive: Holy Mary, Mother of God, New Eve, Ever-Virgin

The “Becoming Catholic” series presents the biblical, philosophical, and historical evidence for why Eternal Christendom Founder, Joshua Charles, became and remains Catholic. The series table of contents is here.

This Quote Archive on the Holy Mary, Mother of God, New Eve, Ever-Virgin, is part of the Becoming Catholic series. Each archive of quotes is intended to serve as a reference source on the various topics addressed in the articles. They are periodically updated as more research is completed.

Apostolic Era Documents

 Ascension of Isaiah (Ch. 11, §§12-14) (c. 90)

Source: R.H. Charles, ed., The Ascension of Isaiah (London: Adam and Charles Black, 1900), 76-77.

(§12) And the story regarding the infant was spread abroad in Bethlehem. (§13) Some said: “The Virgin Mary has borne a child, before she was married two months.” (§14) And many said, “She has not borne a child, nor has a midwife gone up (to her), nor have we heard the cries of (labor) pains.”

Odes of Solomon (No. 19, §§7-9) (c. 125)1

So the Virgin became a Mother with great mercies. And she labored and bore the Son, but without pain, because it did not occur without purpose. And she did not seek a midwife, because he caused her to give life.

 Protoevangelium of James (§§4, 8-9, 15) (c. 150)

(§4) And, behold, an angel of the Lord stood by, saying: “Anna, Anna, the Lord has heard your prayer, and you shall conceive, and shall bring forth; and your seed shall be spoken of in all the world.” And Anna said: “As the Lord my God lives, if I beget either male or female, I will bring it as a gift to the Lord my God; and it shall minister to Him in holy things all the days of its life.” [1 Sam. 1:11]…

(§8) And her parents went down marveling, and praising the Lord God, because the child had not turned back. And Mary was in the temple of the Lord as if she were a dove that dwelt there, and she received food from the hand of an angel. And when she was twelve years old there was held a council of the priests, saying: “Behold, Mary has reached the age of twelve years in the temple of the Lord. What then shall we do with her, lest perchance she defile the sanctuary of the Lord?” And they said to the high priest: “You stand by the altar of the Lord; go in, and pray concerning her; and whatever the Lord shall manifest unto you, that also will we do.” And the high priest went in, taking the robe with the twelve bells into the holy of holies; and he prayed concerning her. And behold an angel of the Lord stood by him, saying unto him: “Zacharias, Zacharias, go out and assemble the widowers of the people, and let them bring each his rod; and to whomsoever the Lord shall show a sign, his wife shall she be…”

(§9) …And the priest said to Joseph, “You have been chosen by lot to take into your keeping the virgin of the Lord.” But Joseph refused, saying: “I have children, and I am an old man, and she is a young girl…”…

(§15) And Annas the scribe came to him, and said: “Why have you not appeared in our assembly?” And Joseph said to him: “Because I was weary from my journey, and rested the first day.” And he turned, and saw that Mary was with child. And he ran away to the priest, and said to him: “Joseph, whom you vouched for, has committed a grievous crime.” And the priest said: “How so?” And he said: “He has defiled the virgin whom he received out of the temple of the Lord, and has married her by stealth, and has not revealed it to the sons of Israel…”…And the priest said: “Mary, why have you done this? And why have you brought your soul low, and forgotten the Lord your God? You that wast reared in the holy of holies, and that received food from the hand of an angel, and heard the hymns, and danced before Him, why have you done this?” And she wept bitterly, saying: “As the Lord my God lives, I am pure before Him, and know not a man.”…

St. Justin Martyr (c. 100-165) (EAST)

St. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho (Ch. 100) (c. 155)

(Ch. 100) …[Jesus] became man by the Virgin, in order that the disobedience which proceeded from the serpent might receive its destruction in the same manner in which it derived its origin. For Eve, who was a virgin and undefiled, having conceived the word of the serpent, brought forth disobedience and death. But the Virgin Mary received faith and joy, when the angel Gabriel announced the good tidings to her that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon her, and the power of the Highest would overshadow her: wherefore also the Holy Thing begotten of her is the Son of God; and she replied, “Be it unto me according to your word.” [Luke 1:38] And by her has He been born, to whom we have proved so many Scriptures refer, and by whom God destroys both the serpent and those angels and men who are like him; but works deliverance from death to those who repent of their wickedness and believe upon Him.

St. Irenaeus of Lyon (c. 130-c. 202) (EAST/WEST)

St. Irenaeus of Lyon, Against Heresies (Book 3, Ch. 22, §4; Book 5, Ch. 19, §1) (c. 180)

(Book 3, Ch. 22, §4)

(§4) In accordance with this design, Mary the Virgin is found obedient, saying, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to your word.” [Luke 1:38] But Eve was disobedient; for she did not obey when as yet she was a virgin. And even as she, having indeed a husband, Adam, but being nevertheless as yet a virgin (for in Paradise “they were both naked, and were not ashamed,” [Gen. 2:25] inasmuch as they, having been created a short time previously, had no understanding of the procreation of children: for it was necessary that they should first come to adult age, and then multiply from that time onward), having become disobedient, was made the cause of death, both to herself and to the entire human race; so also did Mary, having a man betrothed [to her], and being nevertheless a virgin, by yielding obedience, become the cause of salvation, both to herself and the whole human race. And on this account does the law term a woman betrothed to a man, the wife of him who had betrothed her, although she was as yet a virgin; thus indicating the back-reference from Mary to Eve, because what is joined together could not otherwise be put asunder than by inversion of the process by which these bonds of union had arisen; so that the former ties be cancelled by the latter, that the latter may set the former again at liberty. And it has, in fact, happened that the first compact looses from the second tie, but that the second tie takes the position of the first which has been cancelled. For this reason did the Lord declare that the first should in truth be last, and the last first. [Matt. 19:30, 20:16] And the prophet, too, indicates the same, saying, “instead of fathers, children have been born unto you.” For the Lord, having been born “the first-begotten of the dead,” [Apoc. 1:5] and receiving into His bosom the ancient fathers, has regenerated them into the life of God, He having been made Himself the beginning of those that live, as Adam became the beginning of those who die. [1 Cor. 15:20-22] Wherefore also Luke, commencing the genealogy with the Lord, carried it back to Adam, indicating that it was He who regenerated them into the Gospel of life, and not they Him. And thus also it was that the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the virgin Mary set free through faith.

(Book 5, Ch. 19, §1)

(§1) That the Lord then was manifestly coming to His own things, and was sustaining them by means of that creation which is supported by Himself, and was making a recapitulation of that disobedience which had occurred in connection with a tree, through the obedience which was [exhibited by Himself when He hung] upon a tree, [the effects] also of that deception being done away with, by which that virgin Eve, who was already espoused to a man, was unhappily misled—was happily announced, through means of the truth [spoken] by the angel to the Virgin Mary, who was [also espoused] to a man. For just as the former was led astray by the word of an angel, so that she fled from God when she had transgressed His word; so did the latter, by an angelic communication, receive the glad tidings that she should sustain [bear] God [Mother of God], being obedient to His word. And if the former did disobey God, yet the latter was persuaded to be obedient to God, in order that the Virgin Mary might become the patroness of the virgin Eve. And thus, as the human race fell into bondage to death by means of a virgin, so is it rescued by a virgin; virginal disobedience having been balanced in the opposite scale by virginal obedience. For in the same way the sin of the first created man receives amendment by the correction of the First-begotten, and the coming of the serpent is conquered by the harmlessness of the dove, those bonds being unloosed by which we had been fast bound to death.

Tertullian (c. 155-c. 220) (WEST)

Tertullian, The Flesh of Christ (Ch. 17) (c. 210)

(Ch. 17) …But that I may lose no opportunity of supporting my argument from the name of Adam, why is Christ called Adam by the apostle, unless it be that, as man, He was of that earthly origin? And even reason here maintains the same conclusion, because it was by just the contrary operation that God recovered His own image and likeness, of which He had been robbed by the devil. For it was while Eve was yet a virgin, that the ensnaring word had crept into her ear which was to build the edifice of death. Into a virgin’s soul, in like manner, must be introduced that Word of God which was to raise the fabric of life; so that what had been reduced to ruin by this sex, might by the selfsame sex be recovered to salvation. As Eve had believed the serpent, so Mary believed the angel. The delinquency which the one occasioned by believing, the other by believing effaced. But (it will be said) Eve did not at the devil’s word conceive in her womb. Well, she at all events conceived; for the devil’s word afterwards became as seed to her that she should conceive as an outcast, and bring forth in sorrow. Indeed she gave birth to a fratricidal devil; while Mary, on the contrary, bare one who was one day to secure salvation to Israel, His own brother after the flesh, and the murderer of Himself. God therefore sent down into the virgin’s womb His Word, as the good Brother, who should blot out the memory of the evil brother. Hence it was necessary that Christ should come forth for the salvation of man, in that condition of flesh into which man had entered ever since his condemnation.

St. Ephrem the Syrian (c. 306-373) (EAST)

St. Ephrem the Syrian, Nisibene Hymn 27 (Ch. 8) (c. 370)2

 You alone and your Mother are more beautiful than any others, for there is no blemish in you nor any stains upon your Mother. Who of my children can compare in beauty to these?

St. Ephrem the Syrian, Hymn 8 on the Nativity

To Thy Mother, Lord, no man knew what name to give. Should he call her Virgin, her Child stood [there]; and married no man knew her to be! If then none comprehended Thy Mother, who shall suffice for Thee?

For she was, alone, Thy Mother; along with all, Thy Sister. She was Thy mother, she was Thy Sister. She along with chaste women [Ps. 45:14] was Thy betrothed. With everything didst Thou adorn Her, Thou ornament of Thy Mother.

For she was Thy Bride by nature ere Thou hadst come; she conceived Thee not by nature after Thou wast come, O Holy One, and was a Virgin when she had brought Thee forth holily.

Mary gained in Thee, O Lord, the honors of all married women. She conceived [Thee] within her without marriage. There was milk in her breasts, not after the way of nature. Thou madest the thirsty land suddenly a fountain of milk.

If she carried Thee, Thy mighty look made her burden light; if she gave Thee to eat, it was because Thou wert hungry; if she gave Thee to drink [it was], because Thou wert thirsty; willingly if she embraced Thee, Thou, the coal of mercies, didst keep her bosom safe.

A wonder is Thy Mother. The Lord entered her, and became a servant: the Word entered her, and became silent within her; thunder entered her, and His voice was still: the Shepherd of all entered her; He became a Lamb in her, and came forth bleating.

The Belly of Thy Mother changed the order of things, O Thou that orderest all! The rich went in, He came out poor: the High One went in, He came out lowly. Brightness went into her and clothed Himself, and came forth a despised form.

The Mighty went in, and clad Himself with fear from the Belly. He that giveth food to all went in, and gat hunger. He that giveth all to drink went in, and gat thirst. Naked and bare came forth from her the Clother of all.

Origen (c. 184-c. 253) (EAST)

Origin, Commentary on Matthew (Book 10, Ch. 17) (c. 249)

(Ch. 17) …But some say, basing it on a tradition in the Gospel according to Peter, as it is entitled, or “The Book [Protoevangelium] of James,” that the brethren of Jesus were sons of Joseph by a former wife, whom he married before Mary. Now those who say so wish to preserve the honor of Mary in virginity to the end, so that that body of hers which was appointed to minister to the Word which said, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon you, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you,” [Luke 1:35] might not know intercourse with a man after that the Holy Ghost came into her and the power from on high overshadowed her. And I think it in harmony with reason that Jesus was the first-fruit among men of the purity which consists in chastity, and Mary among women; for it were not pious to ascribe to any other than to her the first-fruit of virginity

St. Gregory Thaumaturgus (c. 213-270) (EAST)

St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, Four Homilies on the Annunciation to the Holy Virgin Mary (Homily 1) (c. 256)

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…

St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, Four Homilies on the Annunciation to the Holy Virgin Mary (Homily 2) (c. 256)

 It is our duty to present to God, like sacrifices, all the festivals and hymnal celebrations; and first of all, the annunciation to the holy mother of God, to wit, the salutation made to her by the angel, “Hail, thou that art highly favored!”…

St. Peter of Alexandria (died 311) (EAST)

St. Peter of Alexandria, The Genuine Acts of Peter of Alexandria (305)

[T]hey 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.

St. Methodius of Olympus (died c. 311) (EAST)

St. Methodius of Olympus, Oration on Simeon and Anna (§§7, 14) (c. 300)

(§7) 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.…

(§14) Hail to you forever, you virgin mother of God, our unceasing joy, for unto you do I again return. You are the beginning of our feast; you are its middle and end; the pearl of great price that belongs to the kingdom; the fat of every victim, the living altar of the bread of life. Hail, you treasure of the love of God. Hail, you fount of the Son’s love for man. Hail, you overshadowing mount of the Holy Ghost. You gleamed, sweet gift-bestowing mother, of the light of the sun; you gleamed with the insupportable fires of a most fervent charity, bringing forth in the end that which was conceived of you before the beginning, making manifest the mystery hidden and unspeakable, the invisible Son of the Father—the Prince of Peace, who in a marvelous manner showed Himself as less than all littleness. Wherefore, we pray you, the most excellent among women, who boast 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 you, and who in hymns august celebrate the memory, which will ever live, and never fade away

St. Athanasius the Great (c. 296/98-373) (EAST)

St. Athanasius the Great, Four Discourses Against the Arians (Discourse 2, §70) (c. 360)

(§70) …Therefore let those who deny that the Son is from the Father by nature and proper to His Essence, deny also that He took true human flesh of Mary Ever-Virgin; for in neither case had it been of profit to us men, whether the Word were not true and naturally Son of God, or the flesh not true which He assumed…

St. Athanasius the Great, On the Incarnation of the Word (Ch. 8) (c. 365)

(Ch. 8) …He took pity on our race, and had mercy on our infirmity, and condescended to our corruption, and, unable to bear that death should have the mastery—lest the creature should perish, and His Father’s handiwork in men be spent for naught—He takes unto Himself a body, and that of no different sort from ours. For He did not simply will to become embodied, or will merely to appear. For if He willed merely to appear, He was able to effect His divine appearance by some other and higher means as well. But He takes a body of our kind, and not merely so, but from a spotless and stainless virgin, knowing not a man, a body clean and in very truth pure from intercourse of men. For being Himself mighty, and Artificer of everything, He prepares the body in the Virgin as a temple unto Himself, and makes it His very own as an instrument, in it manifested, and in it dwelling

St. Athanasius the Great, Homily of the Papyrus of Turin: In Praise of the Blessed Virgin3

O noble Virgin, truly you are greater than any other greatness. For who is your equal in greatness, O dwelling place of God the Word? To whom among all creatures shall I compare you, O Virgin? You are greater than them all. O [Ark of the New] Covenant, clothed with purity instead of gold! You are the Ark in which is found the golden vessel containing the true manna, that is, the flesh in which divinity resides. Should I compare you to the fertile earth and its fruits? You surpass them, for it is written: “The earth is my footstool” (Isa. 66:1). But you carry within you the feed, the head, and the entire body of the perfect God.

If I say that heaven is exalted, yet it does not equal you, for it is written: “Heaven is my throne” (ibid.), while you are God’s place of repose. If I say that the angels and archangels are greater—but you are greater than them all, for the angels and archangels serve with trembling the One who dwells in your womb, and they dare not speak in his presence, while you speak to him freely.

If we say that the cherubim are great, you are greater than they, for the cherubim carry the throne of God (cf. Ps. 80:1; 99:1), while you hold God in your hands. If we say that the seraphim are great, you are greater than them all, for the seraphim cover their faces with their wings (cf. Isa. 6:2), unable to look upon the perfect glory, while you not only gaze upon his face but caress it and offer your breasts to his holy mouth

As for Eve, she is the mother of the dead, “for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22). Eve took [fruit] from the tree and made her husband eat of it along with her. And so they ate of that tree of which God had told them: “The day you eat of it, you shall die” (Gen. 2:17). Eve took [fruit] from it, ate some of it, and gave some to her husband [that he might eat] with her. He ate of it, and he died.

In you, instead, O wise Virgin, dwells the Son of God: he, that is, who is the tree of life. Truly he has given us his body, and we have eaten of it. That is how life came to all, and all have come to life by the mercy of God, your beloved Son. That is why your spirit is full of joy in God your Savior (Luke 1:47)!

St. Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 313-386) (EAST)

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lecture 10 (§19) (c. 350)

(§19) Many, my beloved, are the true testimonies concerning Christ. The Father bears witness from heaven of His Son: the Holy Ghost bears witness, descending bodily in likeness of a dove: the Archangel Gabriel bears witness, bringing good tidings to Mary: the Virgin Mother of God bears witness: the blessed place of the manger bears witness…

St. Gregory Nazianzen (c. 329-390) (EAST)

St. Gregory Nazianzen, Letter 101: To Cledonius the Priest, Against Apollinarius (382)

If anyone does not believe that Holy Mary is the Mother of God, he is severed from the Godhead. If anyone should assert that He passed through the Virgin as through a channel, and was not at once divinely and humanly formed in her (divinely, because without the intervention of a man; humanly, because in accordance with the laws of gestation), he is in like manner godless.

St. Pope Siricius I (334-399) WEST)

St. Pope Siricius I, Letter to Bishop Anysius (392)4

Surely, we cannot deny that regarding the sons of Mary the statement is justly censured, and your holiness rightly abhors it, that from the same virginal womb from which Christ was born, another offspring was brought forth. For neither would the Lord Jesus have chosen to be born of a Virgin if he had judged she would be so incontinent that with the seed of human copulation she would pollute the generative chamber of the Lord’s body, the palace of the eternal king.

St. Ambrose of Milan (c. 340-397) (WEST)

St. Ambrose of Milan, Concerning Virgins (Book 2, Ch. 2, §§6-7) (377)

(§6) Let, then, the life of Mary be as it were virginity itself, set forth in a likeness, from which, as from a mirror, the appearance of chastity and the form of virtue is reflected. From this you may take your pattern of life, showing, as an example, the clear rules of virtue: what you have to correct, to effect, and to hold fast.

(§7) 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? What more chaste than she who bore a body without contact with another body? For why should I speak of her other virtues? She was a virgin not only in body but also in mind, who stained the sincerity of its disposition by no guile, who was humble in heart, grave in speech, prudent in mind, sparing of words, studious in reading, resting her hope not on uncertain riches, but on the prayer of the poor, intent on work, modest in discourse; wont to seek not man but God as the judge of her thoughts, to injure no one, to have goodwill towards all, to rise up before her elders, not to envy her equals, to avoid boastfulness, to follow reason, to love virtue. When did she pain her parents even by a look? When did she disagree with her neighbors? When did she despise the lowly? When did she avoid the needy?

St. Ambrose of Milan, Commentary on Psalm 118 (Ch. 22, §30) (c. 387)5

Come, then, and search out your sheep, not through your servants or hired men, but do it yourself. Lift me up bodily and in the flesh, which is fallen in Adam. Lift me up not from Sarah but from Mary, a virgin not only undefiled, but a virgin whom grace had made inviolate, free of every stain of sin.

St. Ambrose of Milan, Letter 63 (§111) (396)

(§111) Imitate her [Mary], holy mothers, who in her only dearly beloved Son set forth so great an example of maternal virtue; for neither have you sweeter children, nor did the Virgin seek the consolation of being able to bear another son [ever-virgin].

St. Jerome (c. 342/347-420) (EAST/WEST)

St. Jerome, Against Helvidius: The Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary (§§19, 21) (c. 383)

(§19) Now that I have cleared the rocks and shoals I must spread sail and make all speed to reach his epilogue. Feeling himself to be a smatterer, he there produces Tertullian as a witness and quotes the words of Victorinus bishop of Petavium. Of Tertullian I say no more than that he did not belong to the Church. But as regards Victorinus, I assert what has already been proved from the Gospel— that he spoke of the brethren of the Lord not as being sons of Mary, but brethren in the sense I have explained, that is to say, brethren in point of kinship not by nature. We are, however, spending our strength on trifles, and, leaving the fountain of truth, are following the tiny streams of opinion. Might I not array against you the whole series of ancient writers? Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, and many other apostolic and eloquent men, who against Ebion, Theodotus of Byzantium, and Valentinus, held these same views, and wrote volumes replete with wisdom. If you had ever read what they wrote, you would be a wiser man. But I think it better to reply briefly to each point than to linger any longer and extend my book to an undue length…

(§21) …We believe that God was born of the Virgin, because we read it. That Mary was married after she brought forth, we do not believe, because we do not read it. Nor do we say this to condemn marriage, for virginity itself is the fruit of marriage; but because when we are dealing with saints we must not judge rashly. If we adopt possibility as the standard of judgment, we might maintain that Joseph had several wives because Abraham had, and so had Jacob, and that the Lord’s brethren were the issue of those wives, an invention which some hold with a rashness which springs from audacity not from piety. You say that Mary did not continue a virgin: I claim still more, that Joseph himself on account of Mary was a virgin, so that from a virgin wedlock a virgin son was born. For if as a holy man he does not come under the imputation of fornication, and it is nowhere written that he had another wife, but was the guardian of Mary whom he was supposed to have to wife rather than her husband, the conclusion is that he who was thought worthy to be called father of the Lord, remained a virgin.

St. Jerome, Apology Against Rufinus (Book 2, §10) (401)

(§10) …As to how a virgin became the mother of God, he [Rufinus] has full knowledge…

St. Jerome, Commentaries on Isaiah (Book 3, Ch. 7, §15) (c. 409)6

Do not marvel at the novelty of the thing, if a Virgin gives birth to God [Mother of God].

St. Augustine (354-430) (WEST)

St. Augustine, Holy Virginity (§§4, 6) (401)

(§4) …Thus Christ by being born of a virgin, who, before she knew Who was to be born of her, had determined to continue a virgin [ever-virgin], chose rather to approve, than to command, holy virginity. And thus, even in the female herself, in whom He took the form of a servant, He willed that virginity should be free…

(§6) And on this account, that one female, not only in the Spirit, but also in the flesh, is both a mother and a virgin. And a mother indeed in the Spirit, not of our Head, Which is the Savior Himself, of Whom rather she was born after the Spirit: forasmuch as all, who have believed in Him, among whom is herself also, are rightly called children of the Bridegroom: but clearly the mother of His members, which are we: in that she wrought together by charity, that faithful ones should be born in the Church, who are members of That Head: but in the flesh, the mother of the Head Himself. For it behooved that our Head, on account of a notable miracle, should be born after the flesh of a virgin, that He might thereby signify that His members would be born after the Spirit, of the Church a virgin: therefore Mary alone both in Spirit and in flesh is a mother and a virgin: both the mother of Christ, and a virgin of Christ; but the Church, in the Saints who shall possess the kingdom of God, in the Spirit indeed is altogether the mother of Christ, altogether a virgin of Christ: but in the flesh not altogether, but in certain a virgin of Christ, in certain a mother, but not of Christ. Forsooth both faithful women who are married, and virgins dedicated to God, by holy manners, and charity out of a pure heart, and good conscience, and faith unfeigned, because they do the will of the Father, are after a spiritual sense mothers of Christ. But they who in married life give birth to (children) after the flesh, give birth not to Christ, but to Adam, and therefore run, that their offspring having been dyed in His Sacraments, may become members of Christ, forasmuch as they know what they have given birth to.

St. Augustine, On Nature and Grace (Ch. 42) (415)

(Ch. 42) …We must except the holy Virgin Mary, concerning whom I wish to raise no question when it touches the subject of sins, out of honor to the Lord; for from Him we know what abundance of grace for overcoming sin in every particular was conferred upon her who had the merit to conceive and bear Him who undoubtedly had no sin. [1 John 3:5] Well, then, if, with this exception of the Virgin, we could only assemble together all the forementioned holy men and women, and ask them whether they lived without sin while they were in this life, what can we suppose would be their answer?…

St. John Cassian (c. 360-c. 435) (EAST)

St. John Cassian, On the Incarnation (Book 2, Ch. 2, 5) (c. 429)

(Ch. 2) And so you say, O heretic, whoever you may be, who deny that God was born of the Virgin, that Mary the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ ought not to be called Theotokos, i.e., Mother of God, but Christotokos, i.e., only the Mother of Christ, not of God. For no one, you say, brings forth what is anterior in time. And of this utterly foolish argument whereby you think that the birth of God can be understood by carnal minds, and fancy that the mystery of His Majesty can be accounted for by human reasoning, we will, if God permits, say something later on. In the meanwhile we will now prove by Divine testimonies that Christ is God, and that Mary is the Mother of God…He said that God would come upon her; that the Son of God would be born. Ask now, if you like, how the Son of God can help being God, or how she who brought forth God can fail to be Theotokos, i.e., the Mother of God? This alone ought to be enough for you; aye this ought to be amply sufficient for you.

(Ch. 5) …Therefore the Lord Jesus Christ is God. But if He be, as He certainly is, God: then she who bore God is Theotokos, i.e., the mother of God. Unless perhaps you want to take refuge in so utterly absurd and blasphemous a contradiction as to deny that she from whom God was born is the mother of God, while you cannot deny that He who was born is God

St. Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444) (EAST)

St. Cyril of Alexandria, Letter 1: To Clergy and Monks in Egypt (§5)7

(§5) Therefore, I am amazed if some should question at all whether the Holy Virgin should be called the Mother of God. For if our Lord Jesus Christ is God, how is the Holy Virgin who bore him not the Mother of God? The inspired disciples transmitted this faith to us, even if they have not made mention of the term. So we have been taught to think by the holy Fathers.

Leporius the Monk (late 300s/early 400s) (WEST)

Leporius the Monk, Document of Amendment (§3) (426)8

We confess, therefore, that our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, born of the Father before the ages, and in times most recent, made man of the Holy Spirit and the Ever-Virgin Mary.

St. Pope Leo the Great (c. 400-461) (WEST)

St. Pope Leo the Great, Sermon 22 (Ch. 2) (450)

(Ch. 2) …The origin is different but the nature like: not by intercourse with man but by the power of God was it brought about: for a Virgin conceived, a Virgin bare, and a Virgin she remained

St. Vincent of Lerins (died c. 445) (WEST)

St. Vincent of Lerins, Commonitory (Ch. 12, §35; Ch. 15, §40) (c. 434)

(Ch. 12, §35)

(§35) 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 Theotokos (the mother of God), but Christotokos (the mother of Christ), seeing that she gave birth not to the Christ who is God, but to the Christ who is man…

(Ch. 15, §40)

(§40) …From this unity of Person it follows, by reason of a like mystery, that, since the flesh of the Word was born of an undefiled mother, God the Word Himself is most Catholicly believed, most impiously denied, to have been born of the Virgin; which being the case, God forbid that anyone should seek to defraud Holy Mary of her prerogative of divine grace and her special glory. For by the singular gift of Him who is our Lord and God, and withal, her own son, she is to be confessed most truly and most blessedly—The mother of God Theotokos, but not in the sense in which it is imagined by a certain impious heresy which maintains, that she is to be called the Mother of God for no other reason than because she gave birth to that man who afterwards became God, just as we speak of a woman as the mother of a priest, or the mother of a bishop, meaning that she was such, not by giving birth to one already a priest or a bishop, but by giving birth to one who afterwards became a priest or a bishop. Not thus, I say, was the holy Mary Theotokos, the mother of God, but rather, as was said before, because in her sacred womb was wrought that most sacred mystery whereby, on account of the singular and unique unity of Person, as the Word in flesh is flesh, so Man in God is God.

Timothy of Jerusalem (500s) (EAST)

Timothy of Jerusalem, Homily on Simeon and Anna (c. 500)9

Therefore the Virgin is immortal to this day, seeing that he who had dwelt in her transported her to the regions of her Assumption.

Pseudo-John

Pseudo-John, Falling Asleep of Mary (c. 550)

[T]he Lord said to his Mother, “Let your heart rejoice and be glad, for every favor and every gift has been given to you from my Father in heaven and from me and from the Holy Spirit. Every soul that calls upon your name shall not be ashamed, but shall find mercy and comfort and support and confidence, both in the world that now is and in what is to come, in the presence of my Father in the heavens”…And from that time forth all knew that the spotless and precious body had been transferred to paradise.

St. Gregor of Tours (c. 538-594) (WEST)

St. Gregory of Tours, Eight Books of Miracles (Book 1, Ch. 4) (c. 590)10

The course of this life having been completed by blessed Mary, when now she would be called from the world, all the apostles came together from their various regions to her house. And when they had heard that she was about to be taken from the world, they kept watch together with her. And behold, the Lord Jesus came with his angels, and, taking her soul, he gave it over to the angel Michael and withdrew. At daybreak, however, the 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; the holy body having been received, he commanded that it be taken in a cloud into paradise, where now, rejoined to the soul, [Mary’s body] rejoices with the Lord’s chosen ones and is in the enjoyment of the good of an eternity that will never end.

Councils

Ecumenical Council of Constantinople II (Sentence of the Synod) (553)

(Sentence of the Synod) …In addition to these we also anathematize the impious Epistle which Ibas is said to have written to Maris, the Persian, which denies that God the Word was incarnate of the holy Mother of God, and ever Virgin Mary

Other Documents

Pseudo-Melito, Passing of the Virgin (Ch. 16, §2-Ch. 17, §1) (c. 475)11

If therefore it might come to pass by the power of your grace, it has appeared right to us your servants that, as you, having overcome death, do reign in glory, so you should raise up the body of your Mother and take her with you, rejoicing, into heaven. Then said the Savior: “Be it done according to your will.” [Luke 1:38]

Footnotes

  1. Jimmy Akins, The Fathers Know Best: Your Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church (San Diego: Catholic Answers Press, 2010), 338. ↩︎
  2. Jimmy Akins, The Fathers Know Best: Your Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church (San Diego: Catholic Answers Press, 2010), 341; St. Ephrem, Nisibene Hymns, XXVII, 8 (Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, 219, 76). ↩︎
  3. Luigi Gambero, S.M., Thomas Buffer, trans., Marty and the Fathers of the Church: The Blessed Virgin Mary in Patristic Thought (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1999), 106-107; Athanasius, Homily of the Papyrus of Turin, ed. T. Lefort, in Le Muséon 71 (1958): 216-17. ↩︎
  4. Jimmy Akins, The Fathers Know Best: Your Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church (San Diego: Catholic Answers Press, 2010), 352-53. ↩︎
  5. Jimmy Akins, The Fathers Know Best: Your Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church (San Diego: Catholic Answers Press, 2010), 341-42. ↩︎
  6. Jimmy Akins, The Fathers Know Best: Your Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church (San Diego: Catholic Answers Press, 2010), 347. ↩︎
  7. St. Cyril of Alexandria, John I. McEnerney, trans., The Fathers of the Church, Vol. 76: St. Cyril of Alexandria, Letters 1-50 (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2007), 15. ↩︎
  8. Jimmy Akins, The Fathers Know Best: Your Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church (San Diego: Catholic Answers Press, 2010), 347. ↩︎
  9. Jimmy Akins, The Fathers Know Best: Your Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church (San Diego: Catholic Answers Press, 2010), 343. ↩︎
  10. Jimmy Akins, The Fathers Know Best: Your Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church (San Diego: Catholic Answers Press, 2010), 343. ↩︎
  11. Jimmy Akins, The Fathers Know Best: Your Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church (San Diego: Catholic Answers Press, 2010), 342. ↩︎
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