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The god of small things essay questions



The Blessed Virgin Mary is the mother of Jesus Christ. the mother of God.

In general, the theology and history of Mary the Mother of God follow the chronological order of their respective sources, i.e. the Old Testament. the New Testament. the early Christian and Jewish witnesses.

(1) First, the Hebrew text employs the same verb for the two renderings "she shall crush" and "thou shalt lie in wait"; the Septuagint renders the verb both times by terein. to lie in wait; Aquila, Symmachus. the Syriac and the Samaritan translators, interpret the Hebrew verb by expressions which mean to crush, to bruise; the Itala renders the terein employed in the Septuagint by the Latin "servare", to guard; St. Jerome [1] maintains that the Hebrew verb has the meaning of "crushing" or "bruising" rather than of "lying in wait", "guarding". Still in his own work, which became the Latin Vulgate. the saint employs the verb "to crush" (conterere ) in the first place, and "to lie in wait" (insidiari ) in the second. Hence the punishment inflicted on the serpent and the serpent's retaliation are expressed by the same verb: but the wound of the serpent is mortal, since it affects his head, while the wound inflicted by the serpent is not mortal, being inflicted on the heel.

(2) The second point of difference between the Hebrew text and our version concerns the agent who is to inflict the mortal wound on the serpent: our version agrees with the present Vulgate text in reading "she" (ipsa ) which refers to the woman. while the Hebrew text reads hu' (autos, ipse ) which refers to the seed of the woman. According to our version, and the Vulgate reading, the woman herself will win the victory; according to the Hebrew text. she will be victorious through her seed. In this sense does the Bull "Ineffabilis" ascribe the victory to Our Blessed Lady. The reading "she" (ipsa ) is neither an intentional corruption of the original text, nor is it an accidental error ; it is rather an explanatory version expressing explicitly the fact of Our Lady's part in the victory over the serpent. which is contained implicitly in the Hebrew original. The strength of the Christian tradition as to Mary's share in this victory may be inferred from the retention of "she" in St. Jerome's version in spite of his acquaintance with the original text and with the reading "he" (ipse ) in the old Latin version.

The second prophecy referring to Mary is found in Isaias 7:1-17. Critics have endeavoured to represent this passage as a combination of occurrences and sayings from the life of the prophet written down by an unknown hand [6]. The credibility of the contents is not necessarily affected by this theory, since prophetic traditions may be recorded by any writer without losing their credibility. But even Duhm considers the theory as an apparent attempt on the part of the critics to find out what the readers are willing to bear patiently; he believes it is a real misfortune for criticism itself that it has found a mere compilation in a passage which so graphically describes the birth-hour of faith.

According to 2 Kings 16:1-4. and 2 Chronicles 27:1-8. Achaz. who began his reign 736 B.C. openly professed idolatry. so that God gave him into the hands of the kings of Syria and Israel. It appears that an alliance had been concluded between Phacee, King of Israel. and Rasin, King of Damascus. for the purpose of opposing a barrier to the Assyrian aggressions. Achaz. who cherished Assyrian proclivities, did not join the coalition; the allies invaded his territory, intending to substitute for Achaz a more subservient ruler, a certain son of Tabeel. While Rasin was occupied in reconquering the maritime city Elath, Phacee alone proceeded against Juda. "but they could not prevail". After Elath had fallen, Rasin joined his forces with those of Phacee; "Syria hath rested upon Ephraim", whereupon "his (Achaz' ) heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the woods are moved with the wind". Immediate preparations must be made for a protracted siege, and Achaz is busily engaged near the upper pool from which the city received the greater part of its water supply. Hence the Lord says to Isaias. "Go forth to meet Achaz. at the end of the conduit of the upper pool". The prophet's commission is of an extremely consoling nature: " See thou be quiet; hear not, and let not thy heart be afraid of the two tails of these firebrands". The scheme of the enemies shall not succeed: "it shall not stand, and this shall not be." What is to be the particular fate of the enemies?
  • Syria will gain nothing, it will remain as it has been in the past: "the head of Syria is Damascus. and the head of Damascus is Rasin".
  • Ephraim too will remain in the immediate future as it has been hitherto: "the head of Ephraim is Samaria. and the head of Samaria the son of Romelia"; but after sixty-five years it will be destroyed, "within threescore and five years Ephraim shall cease to be a people".

Achaz had abandoned the Lord for Moloch. and put his trust in an alliance with Assyria ; hence the conditional prophecy concerning Juda. "if you will not believe. you shall not continue". The test of belief follows immediately: "ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God. either unto the depth of hell or unto the height above". Achaz hypocritically answers: "I will not ask, and I will not tempt the Lord ", thus refusing to express his belief in God. and preferring his Assyrian policy. The king prefers Assyria to God. and Assyria will come: "the Lord shall bring upon thee and upon thy people, and upon the house of thy father, days that have not come since the time of the separation of Ephraim from Juda with the king of the Assyrians ." The house of David has been grievous not merely to men. but to God also by its unbelief; hence it "shall not continue", and, by an irony of Divine punishment, it will be destroyed by those very men whom it preferred to God.

Still the general Messianic promises made to the house of David cannot be frustrated: "The Lord Himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel. He shall eat butter and honey, that he may know to refuse the evil and to choose the good. For before the child know to refuse the evil. and to choose the good. the land which thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of the face of her two kings." Without answering a number of questions connected with the explanation of the prophecy. we must confine ourselves here to the bare proof that the virgin mentioned by the prophet is Mary the Mother of Christ. The argument is based on the premises that the prophet's virgin is the mother of Emmanuel. and that Emmanuel is Christ. The relation of the virgin to Emmanuel is clearly expressed in the inspired words; the same indicate also the identity of Emmanuel with the Christ.

The connection of Emmanuel with the extraordinary Divine sign which was to be given to Achaz predisposes one to see in the child more than a common boy. In 8:8. the prophet ascribes to him the ownership of the land of Juda. "the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Emmanuel ". In 9:6. the government of the house of David is said to be upon his shoulders, and he is described as being endowed with more than human qualities: "a child is born to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty. the Father of the World to Come, and the Prince of Peace". Finally, the prophet calls Emmanuel "a rod out of the root of Jesse" endowed with "the spirit of the Lord. the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge and of godliness"; his advent shall be followed by the general signs of the Messianic era, and the remnant of the chosen people shall be again the people of God (11:1-16 ).

But how does the prophecy refer to the Virgin Mary? Our Blessed Lady is denoted by the phrase, "till the time wherein she that travaileth shall bring forth". It is true that "she that travaileth" has been referred to the Church (St. Jerome. Theodoret ), or to the collection of the Gentiles united with Christ (Ribera. Mariana ), or again to Babylon (Calmet ); but, on the one hand, there is hardly a sufficient connection between any of these events and the promised redeemer. on the other hand, the passage ought to read "till the time wherein she that is barren shall bring forth" if any of these events were referred to by the prophet. Nor can "she that travaileth" be referred to Sion: Sion is spoken of without figure before and after the present passage so that we cannot expect the prophet to lapse suddenly into figurative language. Moreover, the prophecy thus explained would not give a satisfactory sense. The contextual phrases "the ruler in Israel ", "his going forth", which in Hebrew implies birth, and "his brethren" denote an individual, not a nation; hence we infer that the bringing forth must refer to the same person. It has been shown that the person of the ruler is the Messias ; hence "she that travaileth" must denote the mother of Christ. or Our Blessed Lady. Thus explained the whole passage becomes clear: the Messias must be born in Bethlehem. an insignificant village in Juda. his family must be reduced to poverty and obscurity before the time of his birth; as this cannot happen if the theocracy remains intact, if David's house continues to flourish, "therefore will he give them up till the time wherein she that travaileth shall bring forth" the Messias. [8]

In order to be sure of the typical sense, it must be revealed. i.e. it must come down to us through Scripture or tradition. Individual pious writers have developed copious analogies between certain data of the Old Testament and corresponding data of the New ; however ingenious these developments may be, they do not prove that God really intended to convey the corresponding truths in the inspired text of the Old Testament. On the other hand, it must be kept in mind that not all truths contained in either Scripture or tradition have been explicitly proposed to the faithful as matters of belief by the explicit definition of the Church.

The reader of the Gospels is at first surprised to find so little about Mary; but this obscurity of Mary in the Gospels has been studied at length by Blessed Peter Canisius [17], Auguste Nicolas [18], Cardinal Newman [19], and Very Rev. J. Spencer Northcote [20]. In the commentary on the "Magnificat". published 1518, even Luther expresses the belief that the Gospels praise Mary sufficiently by calling her (eight times) the Mother of Jesus. In the following paragraphs we shall briefly group together what we know of Our Blessed Lady's life before the birth of her Divine Son. during the hidden life of Our Lord. during His public life and after His resurrection.

Though few commentators adhere to this view of St. Luke's genealogy. the name of Mary's father, Heli. agrees with the name given to Our Lady's father in a tradition founded upon the report of the Protoevangelium of James. an apocryphal Gospel which dates from the end of the second century. According to this document the parents of Mary are Joachim and Anna. Now, the name Joachim is only a variation of Heli or Eliachim. substituting one Divine name (Yahweh ) for the other (Eli, Elohim ). The tradition as to the parents of Mary, found in the Gospel of James, is reproduced by St. John Damascene [24], St. Gregory of Nyssa [25], St. Germanus of Constantinople [26], pseudo-Epiphanius [27], pseudo-Hilarius [28], and St. Fulbert of Chartres [29]. Some of these writers add that the birth of Mary was obtained by the fervent prayers of Joachim and Anna in their advanced age. As Joachim belonged to the royal family of David. so Anna is supposed to have been a descendant of the priestly family of Aaron ; thus Christ the Eternal King and Priest sprang from both a royal and priestly family [30].

It is said that, as early as in the fifth century the empress Eudoxia built a church over the place where Mary was born, and where her parents lived in their old age. The present Church of St. Anna stands at a distance of only about 100 Feet from the pool Probatica. In 1889, 18 March, was discovered the crypt which encloses the supposed burying-place of St. Anna. Probably this place was originally a garden in which both Joachim and Anna were laid to rest. At their time it was still outside of the city walls, about 400 feet north of the Temple. Another crypt near St. Anna's tomb is the supposed birthplace of the Blessed Virgin; hence it is that in early times the church was called St. Mary of the Nativity [34]. In the Cedron Valley. near the road leading to the Church of the Assumption, is a little sanctuary containing two altars which are said to stand over the burying-places of Sts. Joachim and Anna ; but these graves belong to the time of the Crusades [35]. In Sephoris too the Crusaders replaced by a large church an ancient sanctuary which stood over the legendary house of Sts. Joachim and Anna. After 1788 part of this church was restored by the Franciscan Fathers.

As to the place of the birth of Our Blessed Lady, there are three different traditions to be considered.

First, the event has been placed in Bethlehem. This opinion rests on the authority of the following witnesses: it is expressed in a writing entitled "De nativ. S. Mariae" [36] inserted after the works of St. Jerome ; it is more or less vaguely supposed by the Pilgrim of Piacenza. erroneously called Antoninus Martyr, who wrote about A.D. 580 [37]; finally the popes Paul II (1471), Julius II (1507), Leo X (1519), Paul III (1535), Pius IV (1565), Sixtus V (1586), and Innocent XII (1698) in their Bulls concerning the Holy House of Loreto say that the Blessed Virgin was born, educated. and greeted by the angel in the Holy House. But these pontiffs hardly wish to decide an historical question; they merely express the opinion of their respective times.

A second tradition placed the birth of Our Blessed Lady in Sephoris. about three miles north of Bethlehem. the Roman Diocaesarea. and the residence of Herod Antipas till late in the life of Our Lord. The antiquity of this opinion may be inferred from the fact that under Constantine a church was erected in Sephoris to commemorate the residence of Joachim and Anna in that place [38]. St. Epiphanius speaks of this sanctuary [39]. But this merely shows that Our Blessed Lady may have lived in Sephoris for a time with her parents. without forcing us to believe that she had been born there.

The third tradition. that Mary was born in Jerusalem. is the most probable one. We have seen that it rests upon the testimony of St. Sophronius, St. John Damascene. and upon the evidence of the recent finds in the Probatica. The Feast of Our Lady's Nativity was not celebrated in Rome till toward the end of the seventh century; but two sermons found among the writings of St. Andrew of Crete (d. 680) suppose the existence of this feast, and lead one to suspect that it was introduced at an earlier date into some other churches [40]. In 799 the 10th canon of the Synod of Salzburg prescribes four feasts in honour of the Mother of God: the Purification. 2 February; the Annunciation. 25 March; the Assumption. 15 August; the Nativity. 8 September.

But what has been said does not exceed the certainty of antecedently probable pious conjectures. The consideration that Our Lord could not have refused His Blessed Mother any favours which depended merely on His munificence does not exceed the value of an a priori argument. Certainty in this question must depend on external testimony and the teaching of the Church.

Now, the Protoevangelium of James (7-8), and the writing entitled "De nativit. Mariae" (7-8), [43] state that Joachim and Anna. faithful to a vow they had made, presented the child Mary in the Temple when she was three years old; that the child herself mounted the Temple steps, and that she made her vow of virginity on this occasion. St. Gregory of Nyssa [44] and St. Germanus of Constantinople [45] adopt this report; it is also followed by pseudo-Gregory of Nazianzus in his "Christus patiens". [46] Moreover, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation. though it does not specify at what age the child Mary was presented in the Temple. when she made her vow of virginity. and what were the special natural and supernatural gifts with which God endowed her. The feast is mentioned for the first time in a document of Manuel Commenus, in 1166; from Constantinople the feast must have been introduced into the western Church. where we find it at the papal court at Avignon in 1371; about a century later, Pope Sixtus IV introduced the Office of the Presentation. and in 1585 Pope Sixtus V extended the Feast of the Presentation to the whole Church.

The apocryphal writings to which we referred in the last paragraph state that Mary remained in the Temple after her presentation in order to be educated with other Jewish children. There she enjoyed ecstatic visions and daily visits of the holy angels.

When she was fourteen, the high priest wished to send her home for marriage. Mary reminded him of her vow of virginity. and in his embarrassment the high priest consulted the Lord. Then he called all the young men of the family of David. and promised Mary in marriage to him whose rod should sprout and become the resting place of the Holy Ghost in form of a dove. It was Joseph who was privileged in this extraordinary way.

We have already seen that St. Gregory of Nyssa. St. Germanus of Constantinople. and pseudo-Gregory Nazianzen seem to adopt these legends. Besides, the emperor Justinian allowed a basilica to be built on the platform of the former Temple in memory of Our Lady's stay in the sanctuary; the church was called the New St. Mary's so as to distinguish it from the Church of the Nativity. It seems to be the modern mosque el-Aksa. [47]

According to Jewish custom, the union between Joseph and Mary had to be arranged by the parents of St. Joseph. One might ask why Mary consented to her betrothal. though she was bound by her vow of virginity. As she had obeyed God's inspiration in making her vow. so she obeyed God's inspiration in becoming the affianced bride of Joseph. Besides, it would have been singular among the Jews to refuse betrothal or marriage ; for all the Jewish maidens aspired after marriage as the accomplishment of a natural duty. Mary trusted the Divine guidance implicitly, and thus was certain that her vow would be kept even in her married state.

The place of Elizabeth's home has been variously located by different writers: it has been placed in Machaerus, over ten miles east of the Dead Sea. or in Hebron. or again in the ancient sacerdotal city of Jutta, about seven miles south of Hebron. or finally in Ain-Karim, the traditional St. John-in-the Mountain, nearly four miles west of Jerusalem. [51] But the first three places possess no traditional memorial of the birth or life of St. John ; besides, Machaerus was not situated in the mountains of Juda ; Hebron and Jutta belonged after the Babylonian captivity to Idumea. while Ain-Karim lies in the "hill country" [52] mentioned in the inspired text of St. Luke.

Mary's answer is the canticle of praise commonly called "Magnificat" from the first word of its Latin text; the "Magnificat" has been treated in a SEPARATE ARTICLE.

St. Luke (2:1-5 ) explains how Joseph and Mary journeyed from Nazareth to Bethlehem in obedience to a decree of Caesar Augustus which prescribed a general enrolment. The questions connected with this decree have been considered in the article BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGY. There are various reasons why Mary should have accompanied Joseph on this journey; she may not have wished to lose Joseph's protection during the critical time of her pregnancy, or she may have followed a special Divine inspiration impelling her to go in order to fulfil the prophecies concerning her Divine Son. or again she may have been compelled to go by the civil law either as an heiress or to settle the personal tax payable by women over twelve years of age. [54]

As the enrolment had brought a multitude of strangers to Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph found no room in the caravansary and had to take lodging in a grotto which served as a shelter for animals. [55]

"And it came to pass, that when they were there, her days were accomplished, that she should be delivered" (Luke 2:6 ); this language leaves it uncertain whether the birth of Our Lord took place immediately after Joseph and Mary had taken lodging in the grotto, or several days later. What is said about the shepherds "keeping the night watches over their flock" (Luke 2:8 ) shows that Christ was born in the night time.

On the other hand, it required a journey of at least ten days from Bethlehem to reach the nearest habitable districts of Egypt. We do not know by what road the Holy Family effected its flight; they may have followed the ordinary road through Hebron ; or they may have gone by way of Eleutheropolis and Gaza. or again they may have passed west of Jerusalem towards the great military road of Joppe.

There is hardly any historical document which will assist us in determining where the Holy Family lived in Egypt. nor do we know how long the enforced exile lasted. [64]

Finally, the "brothers of Jesus" are neither the sons of Mary, nor the brothers of Our Lord in the proper sense of the word, but they are His cousins or the more or less near relatives. [70] The Church insists that in His birth the Son of God did not lessen but consecrate the virginal integrity of His mother (Secret in Mass of Purification ). The Fathers express themselves in similar language concerning this privilege of Mary. [71]

The evangelists connect Mary's name with three different events in Our Lord's public life. with the miracle in Cana. with His preaching, and with His passion. The first of these incidents is related in John 2:1-10.

There was a marriage feast in Cana of Galilee. and the mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus also was invited, and his disciples. to the marriage. And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to him: They have no wine. And Jesus saith to her: Woman, what is that to me and to thee? my hour is not yet come.

In reality, Jesus in both these passages places the bond that unites the soul with God above the natural bond of parentage which unites the Mother of God with her Divine Son. The latter dignity is not belittled; as men naturally appreciate it more easily, it is employed by Our Lord as a means to make known the real value of holiness. Jesus. therefore, really, praises His mother in a most emphatic way; for she excelled the rest of men in holiness not less than in dignity. [86] Most probably, Mary was found also among the holy women who ministered to Jesus and His apostles during their ministry in Galilee (cf. Luke 8:2-3 ); the Evangelists do not mention any other public appearance of Mary during the time of Jesus's journeys through Galilee or Judea. But we must remember that when the sun appears, even the brightest stars become invisible.

Since the Passion of Jesus Christ occurred during the paschal week, we naturally expect to find Mary at Jerusalem. Simeon's prophecy found its fulfilment principally during the time of Our Lord's suffering. According to a tradition. His Blessed Mother met Jesus as He was carrying His cross to Golgotha. The Itinerarium of the Pilgrim of Bordeaux describes the memorable sites which the writer visited A.D. 333, but it does not mention any locality sacred to this meeting of Mary and her Divine Son. [87] The same silence prevails in the so-called Peregrinatio Silviae which used to be assigned to A.D. 385, but has lately been placed in A.D. 533-540. [88] But a plan of Jerusalem. dating from the year 1308, shows a Church of St. John the Baptist with the inscription "Pasm. Vgis.", Spasmus Virginis, the swoon of the Virgin. During the course of the fourteenth century Christians began to locate the spots consecrated by the Passion of Christ. and among these was the place where Mary is said to have fainted at the sight of her suffering Son. [89] Since the fifteenth century one finds always "Sancta Maria de Spasmo" among the Stations of the Way of the Cross. erected in various parts of Europe in imitation of the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem. [90] That Our Blessed Lady should have fainted at the sight of her Son's sufferings, hardly agrees with her heroic behaviour under the cross ; still, we may consider her woman and mother in her meeting with her Son on the way to Golgotha. while she is the Mother of God at the foot of the cross.

Among the early writers. Origen is the only one who considers Mary's motherhood of all the faithful in this connection. According to him, Christ lives in his perfect followers, and as Mary is the Mother of Christ. so she is mother of him in whom Christ lives. Hence, according to Origen. man has an indirect right to claim Mary as his mother, in so far as he identifies himself with Jesus by the life of grace. [91] In the ninth century, George of Nicomedia [92] explains Our Lord's words on the cross in such a way as to entrust John to Mary, and in John all the disciples. making her the mother and mistress of all John's companions. In the twelfth century Rupert of Deutz explained Our Lord's words as establishing Mary's spiritual motherhood of men. though St. Bernard. Rupert's illustrious contemporary, does not enumerate this privilege among Our Lady's numerous titles. [93] After this time Rupert's explanation of Our Lord's words on the cross became more and more common, so that in our day it has found its way into practically all books of piety. [94]

The inspired record of the incidents connected with Christ's Resurrection do not mention Mary; but neither do they pretend to give a complete account of all that Jesus did or said. The Fathers too are silent as to Mary's share in the joys of her Son's triumph over death. Still, St. Ambrose [95] states expressly: "Mary therefore saw the Resurrection of the Lord ; she was the first who saw it and believed. Mary Magdalen too saw it, though she still wavered". George of Nicomedia [96] infers from Mary's share in Our Lord's sufferings that before all others and more than all she must have shared in the triumph of her Son. In the twelfth century, an apparition of the risen Saviour to His Blessed Mother is admitted by Rupert of Deutz [97], and also by Eadmer [98], St. Bernardin of Siena [99], St. Ignatius of Loyola [100], Suarez [101], Maldonado [102], etc. [103] That the risen Christ should have appeared first to His Blessed Mother, agrees at least with our pious expectations.

Though the Gospels do not expressly tell us so, we may suppose that Mary was present when Jesus showed himself to a number of disciples in Galilee and at the time of His Ascension (cf. Matthew 28:7, 10, 16 ; Mark 16:7 ). Moreover, it is not improbable that Jesus visited His Blessed Mother repeatedly during the forty days after His Resurrection.

As to the Epistles. the only direct reference to Mary is found in Galatians 4:4. "But when the fulness of time was come, God sent his Son. made of a woman. made under the law ". Some Greek and Latin manuscripts. followed by several Fathers. read gennomenon ek gynaikos instead of genomenon ek gynaikos. "born of a woman " instead of "made of a woman ". But this variant reading cannot be accepted. For
  • gennomenon is the present participle, and must be rendered, "being born of a woman ", so that it does not fit into the context. [104]
  • though the Latin variant rendering "natum" is the perfect participle, and does not imply the inconveniences of its Greek original, St. Bede [105] rejects it, on account of its less appropriate sense.
  • In Romans 1:3. which is to a certain extent a parallel of Galatians 4:4. St. Paul writes genomenos ek stermatos Daveid kata sarka. i.e. "made of the seed of David. according to the flesh".
  • Tertullian [106] points out that the word "made" implies more than the word "born"; for it calls to mind the "Word made flesh", and establishes the reality of the flesh made of the Virgin.

Furthermore, the Apostle employs the word "woman" in the phrase under consideration, because he wishes to indicate merely the sex, without any ulterior connotation. In reality, however, the idea of a man made of a woman alone, suggests the virginal conception of the Son of God. St. Paul seems to emphasize the true idea of the Incarnation of the Word ; a true understanding of this mystery safeguards both the Divinity and the real humanity of Jesus Christ. [107]

In the Apocalypse (12:1-16) occurs a passage singularly applicable to Our Blessed Mother:

And a great sign appeared in heaven. A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; and being with child, she cried travailing in birth, and was in pain to be delivered. And there was seen another sign in heaven. and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads, and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems; and his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven ; and cast them to the earth; and the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be delivered; that when she should be delivered, he might devour her son. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with an iron rod; and her son was taken up to God. and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared by God. that there they should feed her a thousand two hundred sixty days.

The applicability of this passage to Mary is based on the following considerations:
  • At least part of the verses refer to the mother whose son is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; according to Psalm 2:9. this is the Son of God. Jesus Christ. Whose mother is Mary.
  • It was Mary's son that "was taken up to God. and to his throne" at the time of His Ascension into heaven.
  • The dragon, or the devil of the earthly paradise (cf. Apocalypse 12:9 ; 20:2 ), endeavoured to devour Mary's Son from the first moments of His birth, by stirring up the jealousy of Herod and, later on, the enmities of the Jews.
  • Owing to her unspeakable privileges, Mary may well be described as "clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars".
  • It is true that commentators generally understand the whole passage as applying literally to the Church. and that part of the verses is better suited to the Church than to Mary. But it must be kept in mind that Mary is both a figure of the Church. and its most prominent member. What is said of the Church. is in its own way true of Mary. Hence the passage of the Apocalypse (12:5-6) does not refer to Mary merely by way of accommodation [108], but applies to her in a truly literal sense which appears to be partly limited to her, and partly extended to the whole Church. Mary's relation to the Church is well summed up in the expression "collum corporis mystici" applied to Our Lady by St. Bernardin of Siena. [109]

Cardinal Newman [110] considers two difficulties against the foregoing interpretation of the vision of the woman and child: first, it is said to be poorly supported by the Fathers ; secondly, it is an anachronism to ascribe such a picture of the Madonna to the apostolic age. As to the first exception, the eminent writer says:

Christians have never gone to Scripture for proof of their doctrines. till there was actual need, from the pressure of controversy; if in those times the Blessed Virgin's dignity was unchallenged on all hands, as a matter of doctrine. Scripture. as far as its argumentative matter was concerned, was likely to remain a sealed book to them.

After developing this answer at length, the cardinal continues:

As to the second objection which I have supposed, so far from allowing it, I consider that it is built upon a mere imaginary fact, and that the truth of the matter lies in the very contrary direction. The Virgin and Child is not a mere modern idea ; on the contrary, it is represented again and again, as every visitor to Rome is aware, in the paintings of the Catacombs. Mary is there drawn with the Divine Infant in her lap, she with hands extended in prayer. he with his hand in the attitude of blessing .

Thus far we have appealed to the writings or the remains of the early Christian era in as far as they explain or illustrate the teaching of the Old Testament or the New. concerning the Blessed Virgin. In the few following paragraphs we shall have to draw attention to the fact that these same sources, to a certain extent, supplement the Scriptural doctrine. In this respect they are the basis of tradition ; whether the evidence they supply suffices, in any given case, to guarantee their contents as a genuine part of Divine revelation. must be determined according to the ordinary scientific criteria followed by theologians. Without entering on these purely theological questions, we shall present this traditional material, first, in as far as it throws light on the life of Mary after the day of Pentecost ; secondly, in as far as it gives evidence of the early Christian attitude to the Mother of God.

As to tradition. there is some testimony for Mary's temporary residence in or near Ephesus. but the evidence for her permanent home in Jerusalem is much stronger.

Mary's Ephesian residence rests on the following evidence:

(1) A passage in the synodal letter of the Council of Ephesus [111] reads: "Wherefore also Nestorius. the instigator of the impious heresy. when he had come to the city of the Ephesians. where John the Theologian and the Virgin Mother of God St. Mary, estranging himself of his own accord from the gathering of the holy Fathers and Bishops. " Since St. John had lived in Ephesus and had been buried there [112], it has been inferred that the ellipsis of the synodal letter means either, "where John. and the Virgin. Mary lived", or, "where John. and the Virgin. Mary lived and are buried ".

(2) Bar-Hebraeus or Abulpharagius, a Jacobite bishop of the thirteenth century, relates that St. John took the Blessed Virgin with him to Patmos. then founded the Church of Ephesus. and buried Mary no one knows where. [113]

(3) Benedict XIV [114] states that Mary followed St. John to Ephesus and died there. He intended also to remove from the Breviary those lessons which mention Mary's death in Jerusalem. but died before carrying out his intention. [115]

(4) Mary's temporary residence and death in Ephesus are upheld by such writers as Tillemont [116], Calmet [117], etc.

(5) In Panaghia Kapoli, on a hill about nine or ten miles distant from Ephesus. was discovered a house, or rather its remains, in which Mary is supposed to have lived. The house was found, as it had been sought, according to the indications given by Catherine Emmerich in her life of the Blessed Virgin.

On closer inspection these arguments for Mary's residence or burial in Ephesus are not unanswerable.

(1) The ellipsis in the synodal letter of the Council of Ephesus may be filled out in such a way as not to imply the assumption that Our Blessed Lady either lived or died in Ephesus. As there was in the city a double church dedicated to the Virgin Mary and to St. John. the incomplete clause of the synodal letter may be completed so as to read, "where John the Theologian and the Virgin. Mary have a sanctuary". This explanation of the ambiguous phrase is one of the two suggested in the margin in Labbe's Collect. Concil. (l.c.) [118]

(2) The words of Bar-Hebraeus contain two inaccurate statements; for St. John did not found the Church of Ephesus. nor did he take Mary with him to Patmos. St. Paul founded the Ephesian Church. and Mary was dead before John's exile in Patmos. It would not be surprising, therefore, if the writer were wrong in what he says about Mary's burial. Besides, Bar-Hebraeus belongs to the thirteenth century; the earlier writers had been most anxious about the sacred places in Ephesus ; they mention the tomb of St. John and of a daughter of Philip [119], but they say nothing about Mary's burying place.

(3) As to Benedict XIV. this great pontiff is not so emphatic about Mary's death and burial in Ephesus. when he speaks about her Assumption in heaven.

(4) Neither Benedict XIV nor the other authorities who uphold the Ephesian claims, advance any argument that has not been found inconclusive by other scientific students of this question.

(5) The house found in Panaghia-Kapouli is of any weight only in so far as it is connected with the visions of Catherine Emmerich. Its distance from the city of Ephesus creates a presumption against its being the home of the Apostle St. John. The historical value of Catherine's visions is not universally admitted. Mgr. Timoni, Archbishop of Smyrna. writes concerning Panaghia-Kapouli: "Every one is entire free to keep his personal opinion". Finally the agreement of the condition of the ruined house in Panaghia-Kapouli with Catherine's description does not necessarily prove the truth of her statement as to the history of the building. [120]

Two considerations militate against a permanent residence of Our Lady in Jerusalem. first, it has already been pointed out that St. John did not permanently remain in the Holy City ; secondly, the Jewish Christians are said to have left Jerusalem during the periods of Jewish persecution (cf. Acts 8:1 ; 12:1 ). But as St. John cannot be supposed to have taken Our Lady with him on his apostolic expeditions, we may suppose that he left her in the care of his friends or relatives during the periods of his absence. And there is little doubt that many of the Christians returned to Jerusalem. after the storms of persecution had abated.

Independently of these considerations, we may appeal to the following reasons in favour of Mary's death and burial in Jerusalem.

(1) In 451 Juvenal, Bishop of Jerusalem. testified to the presence of Mary's tomb in Jerusalem. It is strange that neither St. Jerome. nor the Pilgrim of Bordeaux, nor again pseudo-Silvia give any evidence of such a sacred place. But when the Emperor Marcion and the Empress Pulcheria asked Juvenal to send the sacred remains of the Virgin Mary from their tomb in Gethsemani to Constantinople. where they intended to dedicate a new church to Our Lady, the bishop cited an ancient tradition saying that the sacred body had been assumed into heaven. and sent to Constantinople only the coffin and the winding sheet. This narrative rests on the authority of a certain Euthymius whose report was inserted into a homily of St. John Damascene [121] now read in the second Nocturn of the fourth day within the octave of the Assumption. Scheeben [122] is of opinion that Euthymius's words are a later interpolation: they do not fit into the context; they contain an appeal to pseudo-Dionysius [123] which are not otherwise cited before the sixth century; and they are suspicious in their connection with the name of Bishop Juvenal, who was charged with forging documents by Pope St. Leo. [124] In his letter the pontiff reminds the bishop of the holy places which he has under his very eyes, but does not mention the tomb of Mary. [125] Allowing that this silence is purely incidental, the main question remains, how much historic truth underlies the Euthymian account of the words of Juvenal?

(2) Here must be mentioned too the apocryphal "Historia dormitionis et assumptionis B.M.V.", which claims St. John for its author. [126] Tischendorf believes that the substantial parts of the work go back to the fourth, perhaps even to the second, century. [127] Variations of the original text appeared in Arabic and Syriac. and in other languages; among these must be noted a work called "De transitu Mariae Virg.", which appeared under the name of St. Melito of Sardes. [128] Pope Gelasius enumerates this work among the forbidden books. [129] The extraordinary incidents which these works connect with the death of Mary do not concern us here; but they place her last moments and her burial in or near Jerusalem.

(3) Another witness for the existence of a tradition placing the tomb of Mary in Gethsemani is the basilica erected above the sacred spot, about the end of the fourth or the beginning of the fifth century. The present church was built by the Latins in the same place in which the old edifice had stood. [130]

(4) In the early part of the seventh century, Modestus, Bishop of Jerusalem. located the passing of Our Lady on Mount Sion, in the house which contained the Cenacle and the upper room of Pentecost. [131] At that time, a single church covered the localities consecrated by these various mysteries. One must wonder at the late evidence for a tradition which became so general since the seventh century.

(5) Another tradition is preserved in the "Commemoratorium de Casis Dei" addressed to Charlemagne. [132] It places the death of Mary on Mt. Olivet where a church is said to commemorate this event. Perhaps the writer tried to connect Mary's passing with the Church of the Assumption as the sister tradition connected it with the cenacle. At any rate, we may conclude that about the beginning of the fifth century there existed a fairly general tradition that Mary had died in Jerusalem. and had been buried in Gethsemani. This tradition appears to rest on a more solid basis than the report that Our Lady died and was buried in or near Ephesus. As thus far historical documents are wanting, it would be hard to establish the connection of either tradition with apostolic times. [133]

It has been seen that we have no absolute certainty as to the place in which Mary lived after the day of Pentecost. Though it is more probable that she remained uninterruptedly in or near Jerusalem. she may have resided for a while in the vicinity of Ephesus. and this may have given rise to the tradition of her Ephesian death and burial. There is still less historical information concerning the particular incidents of her life. St. Epiphanius [134] doubts even the reality of Mary's death; but the universal belief of the Church does not agree with the private opinion of St. Epiphanius. Mary's death was not necessarily the effect of violence ; it was undergone neither as an expiation or penalty, nor as the effect of disease from which, like her Divine Son. she was exempt. Since the Middle Ages the view prevails that she died of love. her great desire to be united to her Son either dissolving the ties of body and soul. or prevailing on God to dissolve them. Her passing away is a sacrifice of love completing the dolorous sacrifice of her life. It is the death in the kiss of the Lord (in osculo Domini ), of which the just die. There is no certain tradition as to the year of Mary's death. Baronius in his Annals relies on a passage in the Chronicon of Eusebius for his assumption that Mary died A.D. 48. It is now believed that the passage of the Chronicon is a later interpolation. [135] Nirschl relies on a tradition found in Clement of Alexandria [136] and Apollonius [137] which refers to a command of Our Lord that the Apostles were to preach twelve years in Jerusalem and Palestine before going among the nations of the world; hence he too arrives at the conclusion that Mary died A.D. 48.

The Assumption of Our Lady into heaven has been treated in a SPECIAL ARTICLE. [138] The feast of the Assumption is most probably the oldest among all the feasts of Mary properly so called. [139] As to art. the assumption was a favourite subject of the school of Siena which generally represents Mary as being carried to heaven in a mandorla.

No picture has preserved for us the true likeness of Mary. The Byzantine representations, said to be painted by St. Luke. belong only to the sixth century, and reproduce a conventional type. There are twenty-seven copies in existence, ten of which are in Rome. [140] Even St. Augustine expresses the opinion that the real external appearance of Mary is unknown to us, and that in this regard we know and believe nothing. [141] The earliest picture of Mary is that found in the cemetery of Priscilla; it represents the Virgin as if about to nurse the Infant Jesus. and near her is the image of a prophet. Isaias or perhaps Micheas. The picture belongs to the beginning of the second century, and compares favourably with the works of art found in Pompeii. From the third century we possess pictures of Our Lady present at the adoration of the Magi ; they are found in the cemeteries of Domitilla and Calixtus. Pictures belonging to the fourth century are found in the cemetery of Saints Peter and Marcellinus; in one of these she appears with her head uncovered, in another with her arms half extended as if in supplication, and with the Infant standing before her. On the graves of the early Christians. the saints figured as intercessors for their souls. and among these saints Mary always held the place of honour. Besides the paintings on the walls and on the sarcophagi, the Catacombs furnish also pictures of Mary painted on gilt glass disks and sealed up by means of another glass disk welded to the former. [142] Generally these pictures belong to the third or fourth century. Quite frequently the legend M ARIA or M ARA accompanies these pictures.

Towards the end of the fourth century, the name Mary becomes rather frequent among Christians ; this serves as another sign of the veneration they had for the Mother of God. [143]

No one will suspect the early Christians of idolatry. as if they had paid supreme worship to Mary's pictures or name ; but how are we to explain the phenomena enumerated, unless we suppose that the early Christians venerated Mary in a special way? [144]

Nor can this veneration be said to be a corruption introduced in later times. It has been seen that the earliest picture dates from the beginning of the second century, so that within the first fifty years after the death of St. John the veneration of Mary is proved to have flourished in the Church of Rome.

For the attitude of the Churches of Asia Minor and of Lyons we may appeal to the words of St. Irenaeus. a pupil of St. John's disciple Polycarp [145]; he calls Mary our most eminent advocate. St. Ignatius of Antioch. part of whose life reached back into apostolic times, wrote to the Ephesians (c. 18-19) in such a way as to connect the mysteries of Our Lord's life more closely with those of the Virgin Mary. For instance, the virginity of Mary, and her childbirth, are enumerated with Christ's death. as forming three mysteries unknown to the devil. The sub-apostolic author of the Epistle to Diognetus. writing to a pagan inquirer concerning the Christian mysteries. describes Mary as the great antithesis of Eve. and this idea of Our Lady occurs repeatedly in other writers even before the Council of Ephesus. We have repeatedly appealed to the words of St. Justin and Tertullian. both of whom wrote before the end of the second century.

As it is admitted that the praises of Mary grow with the growth of the Christian community, we may conclude in brief that the veneration of and devotion to Mary began even in the time of the Apostles.

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