Saturday, January 1, 2011


Mary, Mother of God is not just a Marian title.  It is a Marian Dogma. Presently, the Catholic Church has four Marian Dogmas, namely:  1) Mary, Mother of God; 2) The Virginity of Mary; 3) The Immaculate Conception of Mary; 4) The Assumption of Mary.

What is a Dogma?  A dogma is a doctrine of our faith officially proclaimed by the Church. - from The Pope's Calendar 2008: Marian Dogmas, SHMI-QCP, Manila, Philippines.

cc photo by Heather Clemons on flickr
The first Marian Dogma, Mary, Mother of God was defined by the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD. The Council was called to solve a dispute arising from the doctrine of Nestorius, Archbishop of Constantinople who  rejected Mary's title Theotokos (Mother of God). His doctrine emphasized the disunity of Christ's human and divine natures. In the end, the council condemned him for heresy. 

Here are some excerpts from the Council's statements most notably from Cyril, the Patriarch of Alexandria:
From the Third Letter of Cyril to Nestorius.

- He took flesh from the holy virgin and made it his own, undergoing a birth like ours from her womb and coming forth a man from a woman.
- He did not cast aside, what he was, but although he assumed flesh and blood, he remained what he was, God in nature and truth.
- We do not say that his flesh was turned into the nature of the godhead or that the unspeakable Word of God was changed into the nature of the flesh.  For he (the Word) is unalterable and absolutely unchangeable and remains always the same as the scripture says.

Therefore, because the holy virgin bore in the flesh God who was united hypostatically with flesh, for that reason we call her mother of God, not as though the nature of the Word had the beginning of its existence from the flesh (for "the Word was in the beginning and the Word was God and the Word was with God", and he made the ages and is coeternal with the Father and craftsman of all things), but because, as we have said, he united to himself hypostatically the human and underwent a birth according to the flesh from her womb.

From the Twelve Anathemas Proposed by Cyril and accepted by the Council of Ephesus.

1.  If anyone does not confess that Emmanuel is God in truth, and therefore that the holy virgin is the mother of God (for she bore in a fleshly way the Word of God become flesh), let him be anathema.

From the Letter of Cyril to John of Antioch about peace.

". . . . . For you must surely know that almost all our fight for the faith arose in connection with out insistence that the holy virgin is the mother of God.  But if we claim that the holy body of our common saviour Christ is born from heaven and was not of her, why should she still be considered God-bearer?  For whom indeed did she bear, if it is untrue that she bore Emmanuel according to the flesh? . . . . . For the holy prophet Isaiah does not lie when he says, "Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which is interpreted God with us." . . . ."

The judgment against Nestorius

"Our Lord Jesus Christ, who has been blasphemed by him, has determined through this most holy synod that the same Nestorius should be stripped of his episcopal dignity and removed from the college of priests."

The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God is celebrated every 1st of January. It is a holyday of obligation.

Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!
References and sources:

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