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The Marian Dogmas

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The Mother of God

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“There is one Physician who is possessed both of flesh and spirit; both made and not made; God existing in flesh; true life in death; both of Mary and of God; first possible and then impossible, even Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Ignatius of Antioch, To the Ephesians, 7
(c. A.D. 110)

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“After this, we receive the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead, of which Jesus Christ our Lord became the first-fruits; Who bore a Body, in truth, not in semblance, derived from Mary the mother of God in the fullness of time sojourning among the race, for the remission of sins: who was crucified and died, yet for all this suffered no diminution of His Godhead.”

Alexander of Alexandria, Epistle to Alexander, 12
(A.D. 324)

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“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.”

Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, X:19
(c. A.D. 350)

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And the Angel on his appearance, himself confesses that he has been sent by his Lord; as Gabriel confessed in the case of Zacharias, and also in the case of Mary, bearer of God.”

Athanasius, Orations III, 14
(A.D. 362)

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Just as, in the age of Mary the mother of God, he who had reigned from Adam to her time found, when he came to her and dashed his forces against the fruit of her virginity as against a rock, that he was shattered to pieces upon her, so in every soul which passes through this life in the flesh under the protection of virginity, the strength of death is in a manner broken and annulled, for he does not find the places upon which he may fix his sting.”

Gregory of Nyssa, On Virginity, 14
(A.D. 370)

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“He reshaped man to perfection in Himself, from Mary the Mother of God through the Holy Spirit.”

Epiphanius, The man well-anchored, 75
(A.D. 374)

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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. The first thing which kindles ardour in learning is the greatness of the teacher. What is greater than the Mother of God?”

Ambrose, Virginity, II:6
(c. A.D. 378)

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If anyone does not believe that Holy Mary is the Mother of God, he is severed from the Godhead.”

Gregory of Nazianzus, To Cledonius, 101
(A.D. 382)

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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 Theotocos, i.e., Mother of God, but Christotocos, 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.”

John Cassian, The Incarnation of Christ, II:2
(A.D. 430)

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But since the Holy Virgin brought forth after the flesh God personally united to the flesh, for this reason we say of her that she is Theotokos, not as though the nature of the Word had its beginning of being from the flesh, for he was in the beginning, and the Word was God, and the Word was with God…but, as we said before, because having personally united man’s nature to himself…”

Cyril of Alexandria, To Nestorius, Epistle 17:11
(A.D. 430)

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“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 ‘Theotocos,’ 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 ‘Theotocos,’ 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.”

Vincent of Lerins
Commonitory for the Antiquity and Universality
of the Catholic Faith, 15
(A.D. 434)

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“So then He was both in all things and above all things and also dwelt in the womb of the holy Mother of God, but in it by the energy of the incarnation.”

John Damascene, Source of Knowledge, III:7
(A.D. 743)

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The Perpetual Virginity of Mary

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The Word will become flesh,
and the Son of God the son of man–
the Pure One opening purely that pure womb,
which generates men unto God.”

St. Irenaeus , Against Heresies, 4, 33, 12
(A.D. 180-190)

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For if Mary, as those declare who with sound mind extol her, had no other son but Jesus, and yet Jesus says to His mother, Woman, behold thy son,’ and not Behold you have this son also,’ then He virtually said to her, Lo, this is Jesus, whom thou didst bear.’ Is it not the case that every one who is perfect lives himself no longer, but Christ lives in him; and if Christ lives in him, then it is said of him to Mary, Behold thy son Christ.’

Origen, Commentary on John, I:6
(A.D. 232)

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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.”

Athanasius, Orations against the Arians, II:70
(A.D. 362)

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And when he had taken her, he knew her not, till she had brought forth her first-born Son.’ He hath here used the word till,’ not that thou shouldest suspect that afterwards he did know her, but to inform thee that before the birth the Virgin was wholly untouched by man. But why then, it may be said, hath he used the word, till’? Because it is usual in Scripture often to do this, and to use this expression without reference to limited times. For so with respect to the ark likewise, it is said, The raven returned not till the earth was dried up.’ And yet it did not return even after that time. And when discoursing also of God, the Scripture saith, From age until age Thou art,’ not as fixing limits in this case. And again when it is preaching the Gospel beforehand, and saying, In his days shall righteousness flourish, and abundance of peace, till the moon be taken away,’ it doth not set a limit to this fair part of creation. So then here likewise, it uses the word “till,” to make certain what was before the birth, but as to what follows, it leaves thee to make the inference.”

John Chrysostom, Gospel of Matthew, V:5
(A.D. 370)

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The Son of God…was born perfectly of the holy ever-virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit…”

Epiphanius, Well Anchored Man, 120
(A.D. 374)

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“The friends of Christ do not tolerate hearing that the Mother of God ever ceased to be a virgin.”

 Basil
Homily In Sanctum Christi generationem, 5
(ante A.D. 379)

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Imitate her, 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.”

Ambrose
To the Christian at Vercellae, Letter 63:111
(A.D. 396)

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“Her virginity also itself was on this account more pleasing and accepted, in that it was not that Christ being conceived in her, rescued it beforehand from a husband who would violate it, Himself to preserve it; but, before He was conceived, chose it, already dedicated to God, as that from which to be born. This is shown by the words which Mary spake in answer to the Angel announcing to her conception; How,’ saith she, shall this be, seeing I know not a man?’ Which assuredly she would not say, unless she had before vowed herself unto God as a virgin. But, because the habits of the Israelites as yet refused this, she was espoused to a just man, who would not take from her by violence, but rather guard against violent persons, what she had already vowed. Although, even if she had said this only, How shall this take place ?’ and had not added, seeing I know not a man,’ certainly she would not have asked, how, being a female, she should give birth to her promised Son, if she had married with purpose of sexual intercourse. She might have been bidden also to continue a virgin, that in her by fitting miracle the Son of God should receive the form of a servant, but, being to be a pattern to holy virgins, lest it should be thought that she alone needed to be a virgin, who had obtained to conceive a child even without sexual intercourse, she dedicated her virginity to God, when as yet she knew not what she should conceive, in order that the imitation of a heavenly life in an earthly and mortal body should take place of vow, not of command; through love of choosing, not through necessity of doing service. 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, 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.”

Augustine, Of Holy Virginity, 4
(A.D. 401)

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“Where are they who think that the Virgin’s conception and giving birth to her child are to be likened to those of other woman? For, this latter case is one of the earth, and the Virgin’s is one from heaven. The one case is a case of divine power; the other of human weakness. The one case occurs in a body subject to passion; the other in the tranquility of the divine Spirit and peace of the human body. The blood was still, and the flesh astonished; her members were put at rest, and her entire womb was quiescent during the visit of the Holy One, until the Author of flesh could take on His garment of flesh, and until He, who was not merely to restore the earth to man but also to give him heaven, could become a heavenly Man. The virgin conceives, the Virgin brings forth her child, and she remains a virgin.”

Peter Chrysoslogus, Sermon 117,
(A.D. 432)

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“And by a new nativity He was begotten, conceived by a Virgin, born of a Virgin, without paternal desire, without injury to the mother’s chastity: because such a birth as knew no taint of human flesh, became One who was to be the Saviour of men, while it possessed in itself the nature of human substance. For when God was born in the flesh, God Himself was the Father, as the archangel witnessed to the Blessed Virgin Mary: because the Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee: and therefore, that which shall be born of thee shall be called holy, the Son of God.’ 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.”

Pope Leo the Great
On the Feast of the Nativity, Sermon 22:2
(ante A.D. 461)

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“The ever-virgin One thus remains even after the birth still virgin, having never at any time up till death consorted with a man. For although it is written, And knew her not till she had brought forth her first-born Son, yet note that he who is first-begotten is first-born even if he is only-begotten. For the word first-born’ means that he was born first but does not at all suggest the birth of others. And the word till’ signifies the limit of the appointed time but does not exclude the time thereafter. For the Lord says, And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world, not meaning thereby that He will be separated from us after the completion of the age. The divine apostle, indeed, says, And so shall we ever be with the Lord, meaning after the general resurrection.”

John of Damascus, Orthodox Faith, 4:14
(A.D. 743)

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The Immaculate Conception

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“He was the ark formed of incorruptible wood. For by this is signified that His tabernacle was exempt from putridity and corruption.”

Hippolytus
Orations Inillud, Dominus pascit me
(ante A.D. 235)

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“Thou alone and thy Mother are in all things fair,
there is no flaw in thee
and no stain in thy Mother.”

Ephraem, Nisibene Hymns, 27:8
(A.D. 370)

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“Mary, a Virgin not only undefiled
but a Virgin whom grace has made inviolate,
free of every stain of sin.”

Ambrose, Sermon 22:30
(A.D. 388)

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“As he formed her without my stain of her own,
so He proceeded from her contracting no stain.”

Proclus of Constantinople, Homily 1
(ante A.D. 446)

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“A virgin, innocent, spotless, free of all defect, untouched, unsullied, holy in soul and body,
like a lily sprouting among thorns.”

Theodotus of Ancyra, Homily VI:11
(ante A.D. 446)

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“The angel took not the Virgin from Joseph, but gave her to Christ, to whom she was pledged from Joseph, but gave her to Christ, to whom she was pledged in the womb, when she was made.”

Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 140
(A.D. 449)

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“The very fact that God has elected her proves that none was ever holier than Mary, if any stain had disfigured her soul, if any other virgin had been purer and holier, God would have selected her and rejected Mary.”

Jacob of Sarug (ante A.D. 521)

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“She is born like the cherubim, she who is of a pure, immaculate clay.”

Theotokos of Livias
Panegyric for the feast of the Assumption, 5:6
(ante A.D. 650)

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“Today humanity, in all the radiance of her immaculate nobility, receives its ancient beauty. The shame of sin had darkened the splendour and attraction of human nature; but when the Mother of the Fair One par excellence is born, this nature regains in her person its ancient privileges and is fashioned according to a perfect model truly worthy of God…. The reform of our nature begins today and the aged world, subjected to a wholly divine transformation, receives the first fruits of the second creation.”

Andrew of Crete
Sermon I, On the Birth of Mary
(A.D. 733)

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“Truly elect, and superior to all, not by the altitude of lofty structures, but as excelling all in the greatness and purity of sublime and divine virtues, and having no affinity with sin whatever.”

Germanus of Constantinople
Marracci in S. Germani Mariali
(ante A.D. 733)

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“O most blessed loins of Joachim from which came forth a spotless seed.
O glorious womb of Anne in which a most holy offspring grew.”

John of Damascus, Homily I
(ante A.D. 749)

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The Assumption of Mary

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“If the Holy Virgin had died and was buried, her falling asleep would have been surrounded with honour, death would have found her pure, and her crown would have been a virginal one…Had she been martyred according to what is written: ‘Thine own soul a sword shall pierce’, then she would shine gloriously among the martyrs, and her holy body would have been declared blessed; for by her, did light come to the world.”

Epiphanius, Panarion, 78:23
(A.D. 377)

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

Timothy of Jerusalem
Homily on Simeon and Anne
[A.D. 400]

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“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; and the holy body having been received, He commanded that it be taken in a cloud into paradise: where now, rejoined to the soul, [Mary] rejoices with the Lord’s chosen ones…”

Gregory of Tours, Eight Books of Miracles, 1:4
(inter A.D. 575-593)

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“As the most glorious Mother of Christ, our Savior and God and the giver of life and immortality, has been endowed with life by him, she has received an eternal incorruptibility of the body together with him who has raised her up from the tomb and has taken her up to himself in a way known only to him.”

Modestus of Jerusalem
Encomium in dormitionnem Sanctissimae Dominae nostrae Deiparae semperque Virginis Mariae
(PG 86-II,3306)
(ante A.D. 634)

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“It was fitting …that the most holy-body of Mary, God-bearing body, receptacle of God, divinised, incorruptible, illuminated by divine grace and full glory …should be entrusted to the earth for a little while and raised up to heaven in glory, with her soul pleasing to God.”

Theoteknos of Livias
Homily on the Assumption
(ante A.D. 650)

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“You are she who, as it is written, appears in beauty, and your virginal body is all holy, all chaste, entirely the dwelling place of God, so that it is henceforth completely exempt from dissolution into dust. Though still human, it is changed into the heavenly life of incorruptibility, truly living and glorious, undamaged and sharing in perfect life.”

Germanus of Constantinople
Sermon I (PG 98,346)
(ante A.D. 733)

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“It was fitting that the she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles. It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped when giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father, It was fitting that God’s Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God.”

John of Damascene
Dormition of Mary (PG 96,741)
(ante A.D. 749)

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“Behold, from now on shall all generations call me blessed, for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.”
Luke 1, 48-49

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