Theotokos (Greek: Θεοτόκος Greek pronunciation: [θeoˈtokos]) is a title of Mary, mother of Jesus, used especially in Eastern Christianity. The usual Latin translations, Dei Genetrix or Deipara (approximately "parent (fem.) of God"), are "Mother of God" or "God-bearer".[a][b]
The title has been in use since the 3rd century, in the Syriac tradition (as Classical Syriac: ܝܳܠܕܰܬ ܐܰܠܳܗܳܐ, romanized: Yoldath Aloho) in the Liturgy of Mari and Addai (3rd century) and the Liturgy of St James (4th century). The Council of Ephesus in AD 431 decreed that Mary is the Theotokos because her son Jesus is both God and man: one divine person with two natures (divine and human) intimately and hypostatically united.
The title of Mother of God (Greek: Μήτηρ (του) Θεοῦ; abbreviated ΜΡ ΘΥ, Latin Mater Dei) is most often used in English, largely due to the lack of a satisfactory equivalent of the Greek τόκος / Latin genetrix. For the same reason, the title is often left untranslated, as "Theotokos", in Orthodox liturgical usage of other languages.
Theotokos is also used as the term for an Eastern icon, or type of icon, of the Mother with Child (typically called a Madonna in western tradition), as in "the Theotokos of Vladimir" both for the original 12th-century icon and for icons that are copies or imitate its composition.
Theotokos is an adjectival compound of two Greek words Θεός "God" and τόκος "childbirth, parturition; offspring". A close paraphrase would be "[she] whose offspring is God" or "[she] who gave birth to one who was God". The usual English translation is simply "Mother of God"; Latin uses Deipara or Dei Genetrix. The Church Slavonic translation is Bogoroditsa (Russian/Serbian/Bulgarian Богородица). The full title of Mary in Slavic Orthodox tradition is Прест҃а́ѧ влⷣчица на́ша бцⷣа и҆ прⷭ҇нод҃ва мр҃і́а (Russian Пресвятая Владычица наша Богородица и Приснодева Мария), from Greek Ὑπεραγία δεσποινίς ἡμῶν Θεοτόκος καὶ ἀειπαρθένος Μαρία "Our Most Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary". German has the translation Gottesgebärerin.
"Mother of God" is the literal translation of a distinct title in Greek, Μήτηρ του Θεού (translit. Mētēr tou Theou), a term which has an established usage of its own in traditional Orthodox and Catholic theological writing, hymnography, and iconography. In an abbreviated form, ΜΡ ΘΥ (М҃Р Ѳ҃Ѵ), it often is found on Eastern icons, where it is used to identify Mary. The Russian term is Матерь Божия (also Богома́терь).
Variant forms are the compounds Θεομήτωρ (translit. Theomētōr; also spelled Θεομήτηρ, translit. Theomētēr) and Μητρόθεος (translit. Mētrotheos), which are found in patristic and liturgical texts.
The theological dispute over the term concerned the term Θεός "God" vs. Χριστός "Christ", and not τόκος (genetrix, "bearer") vs. μήτηρ (mater, "mother"), and the two terms have been used as synonyms throughout Christian tradition. Both terms are known to have existed alongside one another since the early church, but it has been argued, even in modern times, that the term "Mother of God" is unduly suggestive of Godhead having its origin in Mary, imparting to Mary the role of a Mother Goddess. But this is an exact reiteration of the objection by Nestorius, resolved in the 5th century, to the effect that the term "Mother" expresses exactly the relation of Mary to the incarnate Son ascribed to Mary in Christian theology.[c][d][e]
Theologically, the term "Mother of God" (and its variants) should not be taken to imply that Mary is the source of the existence of the divine person of Jesus, who existed with the Father from all eternity, or of her Son's divinity. Within the Orthodox and Catholic tradition, Mother of God has not been understood, nor been intended to be understood, as referring to Mary as Mother of God from eternity — that is, as Mother of God the Father — but only with reference to the birth of Jesus, that is, the Incarnation. To make it explicit, it is sometimes translated Mother of God Incarnate. (cf. the topic of Christology, and the titles of God the Son and Son of man).
The Nicene-Costantinopolitan Creed of 381 affirmed the Christian faith on "one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds (æons)", that "came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost and of the Virgin Mary, and was made man". Since that time, the expression "Mother of God" referred to the Dyophysite doctrine of the hypostatic union, about the uniqueness with the twofold nature of Jesus Christ God, which is both human and divine (nature distincted, but not separable nor mixed). Since that time, Jesus was affirmed as true Man and true God from all eternity.
The status of Mary as Theotokos was a topic of theological dispute in the 4th and 5th centuries and was the subject of the decree of the Council of Ephesus of 431 to the effect that, in opposition to those who denied Mary the title Theotokos ("the one who gives birth to God") but called her Christotokos ("the one who gives birth to Christ"), Mary is Theotokos because her son Jesus is one person who is both God and man, divine and human. This decree created the Nestorian Schism. Cyril of Alexandria wrote, "I am amazed that there are some who are entirely in doubt as to whether the holy Virgin should be called Theotokos or not. For if our Lord Jesus Christ is God, how is the holy Virgin who gave [Him] birth, not [Theotokos]?" (Epistle 1, to the monks of Egypt; PG 77:13B). But the argument of Nestorius was that divine and human natures of Christ were distinct, and while Mary is evidently the Christotokos (bearer of Christ), it could be misleading to describe her as the "bearer of God". At issue is the interpretation of the Incarnation, and the nature of the hypostatic union of Christ's human and divine natures between Christ's conception and birth.
Within the Orthodox doctrinal teaching on the economy of salvation, Mary's identity, role, and status as Theotokos is acknowledged as indispensable. For this reason, it is formally defined as official dogma. The only other Mariological teaching so defined is that of her virginity. Both of these teachings have a bearing on the identity of Jesus Christ. By contrast, certain other Marian beliefs which do not bear directly on the doctrine concerning the person of Jesus (for example, her sinlessness, the circumstances surrounding her conception and birth, her Presentation in the Temple, her continuing virginity following the birth of Jesus, and her death), which are taught and believed by the Orthodox Church (being expressed in the Church's liturgy and patristic writings), are not formally defined by the Church.
Origen (d. 254) is often cited as the earliest author to use theotokos for Mary (Socrates, Ecclesiastical History 7.32 (PG 67, 812 B) citing Origen's Commentary on Romans). Although this testimony is uncertain, the term was used c. 250 by Dionysius of Alexandria, in an epistle to Paul of Samosata.
The Greek version of the hymn Sub tuum praesidium contains the term, in the vocative, as ΘΕΟΤΟΚΕ. The oldest record of this hymn is a papyrus found in Egypt, mostly dated to after 450, but according to a suggestion by de Villiers (2011) possibly older, dating to the mid-3rd century.
The use of Theotokos was formally affirmed at the Third Ecumenical Council held at Ephesus in 431. The competing view, advocated by Patriarch Nestorius of Constantinople, was that Mary should be called Christotokos, meaning "Birth-giver of Christ," to restrict her role to the mother of Christ's humanity only and not his divine nature.
Nestorius' opponents, led by Cyril of Alexandria, viewed this as dividing Jesus into two distinct persons, the human who was Son of Mary, and the divine who was not. To them, this was unacceptable since by destroying the perfect union of the divine and human natures in Christ, it sabotaged the fullness of the Incarnation and, by extension, the salvation of humanity. The council accepted Cyril's reasoning, affirmed the title Theotokos for Mary, and anathematized Nestorius' view as heresy. (See Nestorianism)
In letters to Nestorius which were afterwards included among the council documents, Cyril explained his doctrine. He noted that "the holy fathers... have ventured to call the holy Virgin Theotokos, not as though the nature of the Word or his divinity received the beginning of their existence from the holy Virgin, but because from her was born his holy body, rationally endowed with a soul, with which [body] the Word was united according to the hypostasis, and is said to have been begotten according to the flesh" (Cyril's second letter to Nestorius).
Explaining his rejection of Nestorius' preferred title for Mary (Christotokos), Cyril wrote:
Confessing the Word to be united with the flesh according to the hypostasis, we worship one Son and Lord, Jesus Christ. We do not divide him into parts and separate man and God as though they were united with each other [only] through a unity of dignity and authority... nor do we name separately Christ the Word from God, and in similar fashion, separately, another Christ from the woman, but we know only one Christ, the Word from God the Father with his own flesh... But we do not say that the Word from God dwelt as in an ordinary human born of the holy virgin... we understand that, when he became flesh, not in the same way as he is said to dwell among the saints do we distinguish the manner of the indwelling; but he was united by nature and not turned into flesh... There is, then, one Christ and Son and Lord, not with the sort of conjunction that a human being might have with God as in a unity of dignity or authority; for equality of honor does not unite natures. For Peter and John were equal to each other in honor, both of them being apostles and holy disciples, but the two were not one. Nor do we understand the manner of conjunction to be one of juxtaposition, for this is insufficient in regard to natural union.... Rather we reject the term 'conjunction' as being inadequate to express the union... [T]he holy virgin gave birth in the flesh to God united with the flesh according to hypostasis, for that reason we call her Theotokos... If anyone does not confess that Emmanuel is, in truth, God, and therefore that the holy virgin is Theotokos (for she bore in a fleshly manner the Word from God become flesh), let him be anathema. (Cyril's third letter to Nestorius)
The Nestorian Church, known as the Church of the East within the Syrian tradition, rejected the decision of the Council of Ephesus and its confirmation at the Council of Chalcedon in 451. This was the church of the Sassanid Empire during the late 5th and early 6th centuries. The schism ended in 544, when patriarch Aba I ratified the decision of Chalcedon. After this, there was no longer technically any "Nestorian Church", i.e. a church following the doctrine of Nestorianism, although legends persisted that still further to the east such a church was still in existence (associated in particular with the figure of Prester John), and the label of "Nestorian" continued to be applied even though it was technically no longer correct. Modern research suggests that also the Church of the East in China did not teach a doctrine of two distinct natures of Christ."
Lutheran tradition retained the title of "Mother of God" (German Mutter Gottes, Gottesmutter), a term already embraced by Martin Luther; and officially confessed in the Formula of Concord (1577), accepted by Lutheran World Federation.
Calvin rejected calling Mary the "mother of God," saying, "I cannot think such language either right, or becoming, or suitable. ... To call the Virgin Mary the mother of God can only serve to confirm the ignorant in their superstitions."
Theotokos is often used in hymns to Mary in the Eastern Orthodox, Eastern Catholic and Oriental Orthodox churches. The most common is Axion Estin (It is truly meet), which is used in nearly every service.
Other examples include Sub tuum praesidium, the Hail Mary in its Eastern form, and All creation rejoices, which replaces Axion Estin at the Divine Liturgy on the Sundays of Great Lent. Bogurodzica is a medieval Polish hymn, possibly composed by Adalbert of Prague (d. 997).
One of the two earliest known depictions of the Virgin Mary is found in the Catacomb of Priscilla (3rd century) showing the adoration of the Magi. Recent conservation work at the Catacombs of Priscilla revealed that what had been identified for decades as the earliest image of the Virgin and Child was actually a traditional funerary image of a Roman matron; the pointing figure with her, formerly identified as a prophet, was shown to have had its arm position adjusted and the star he was supposedly pointing to was painted in at a later date.The putative Annunciation scene at Priscilla is also now recognized as yet another Roman matron with accompanying figure and not the Virgin Mary. Recently another third-century image of the Virgin Mary was identified at the eastern Syrian site of Dura Europos in the baptistry room of the earliest known Christian Church. The scene shows the Annunciation to the Virgin.
The tradition of Marian veneration was greatly expanded only with the affirmation of her status as Theotokos in 431. The mosaics in Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, dating from 432-40, just after the council, does not yet show her with a halo. The iconographic tradition of the Theotokos or Madonna (Our Lady), showing the Virgin enthroned carrying the infant Christ, is established by the following century, as attested by a very small number of surviving icons, including one at Saint Catherine's Monastery in Sinai, and Salus Populi Romani, a 5th or 6th-century Byzantine icon preserved in Rome. This type of depiction, with subtly changing differences of emphasis, has remained the mainstay of depictions of Mary to the present day. The roughly half-dozen varied icons of the Virgin and Child in Rome from the 6th to 8th centuries form the majority of the representations surviving from this period, as most early Byzantine icons were destroyed in the Byzantine Iconoclasm of the 8th and 9th century, notable exceptions being the 7th-century Blachernitissa and Agiosoritissa.
The iconographic tradition is well developed by the early medieval period. The tradition of Luke the Evangelist being the first to have painted Mary is established by the 8th century. An early icon of the Virgin as queen is in the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome, datable to 705-707 by the kneeling figure of Pope John VII, a notable promoter of the cult of the Virgin, to whom the infant Christ reaches his hand. The earliest surviving image in a Western illuminated manuscript of the Madonna and Child comes from the Book of Kells of about 800 (there is a similar carved image on the lid of St Cuthbert's coffin of 698). The oldest Russian icons were imports from Byzantium, beginning in the 11th century.
An Akathist Hymn (Greek: Ἀκάθιστος Ὕμνος, "unseated hymn") is a type of hymn usually recited by Eastern Orthodox or Eastern Catholic Christians, dedicated to a saint, holy event, or one of the persons of the Holy Trinity. The name derives from the fact that during the chanting of the hymn, or sometimes the whole service, the congregation is expected to remain standing in reverence, without sitting down (ἀ-, a-, "without, not" and κάθισις, káthisis, "sitting"), except for the aged or infirm. During Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Christian religious services in general, sitting, standing, bowing and the making of prostrations are set by an intricate set of rules, as well as individual discretion. Only during readings of the Gospel and the singing of Akathists is standing considered mandatory for all.
The akathist par excellence is that written in the seventh century to the Theotokos. This kontakion was traditionally attributed to Romanos the Melodist, though recent scholarship tends to reject this authorship. It is used as part of the service of the Salutations to the Theotokos (used in the Byzantine tradition during Great Lent). It is often known by its Greek or Arabic names, Chairetismoi (Χαιρετισμοί, "Rejoicings") and Madayeh, respectively; in the Slavic tradition it is known as Akafist. This Akathist is also known by the first three words of its prooimion (preamble), Te upermacho stratego (Τῇ ὑπερμάχῳ στρατηγῷ, "To you, invincible champion").
The writing of akathists (occasionally spelled acathist) continues today as part of the general composition of an akolouthia, particularly in the Slavic tradition, although not all are widely known nor translated beyond the original language. Reader Isaac E. Lambertsen has done a large amount of translation work, including many different akathists. Most of the newer akathists are pastiche, that is, a generic form imitating the original 6th-century akathist to the Theotokos into which a particular saint's name is inserted. In the Greek, Arabic, and Russian Old Rite traditions, the only akathist permitted in formal liturgical use is the original akathist.Cathedral of the Nativity of the Theotokos, Sarajevo
The Cathedral Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos (Serbo-Croatian: Саборна црква Рођења Пресвете Богородице / Saborna crkva Rođenja Presvete Bogorodice) is the largest Serbian Orthodox church in Sarajevo and one of the largest in the Balkans.
The cathedral is dedicated to the nativity of the Theotokos. It was erected at the request of the Orthodox parish of Sarajevo, with construction taking place between 1863 and 1868. The church is constructed as a three-section basilica inscribed in a cross-shaped plan, and has five domes. The domes are built on the beams; the central one is much larger than the other four side domes. The church is arched by round elements. The small gilded baroque-style belfry is built in front of the entrance. The interior walls are decorated by painted ornaments. In the lower zones of the walls the painted ornaments are simulating the marble stone construction look. Arches and vaults are decorated in ornaments only. In 1898, the Orthodox Metropolitan Palace was built near the cathedral.
The head master for construction was Andreja Damjanov, a man from the Damjanovi-Renzovski family of master builders, masons, painters, carpenters, and stonecutters from the village of Papradište, near Veles.Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos, Skopje
The Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos or Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Macedonian: Црква „Рождество на Пресвета Богородица“) is an Orthodox church in Skopje, North Macedonia.
According to the legends, there was a medieval church. During the early 19th century the locals in Skopje decided to build there a new church. The project had become possible because the Ottoman building law, which had once limited the construction or renovation of Christian churches, had been changed. The construction works began in 1809 under the direction of the builder and painter Damjan Jankulov. He died during the construction period and the church was completed by his sons, led by Andreja Damjanov. On May 1, 1835, it was consecrated to the birth of the Blessed Virgin.The church is a three-aisled stone basilica with a western extension. The iconostasis is decorated with marble and wood carvings.
One year after the completion of the church, a convent school teaching in Bulgarian was built in its courtyard. Around 1850, the school was converted according to the Lancasterian system and 1895 it was transformed into Bulgarian Pedagogical School of Skopje. According to a Firman issued by the Sultan Abdülaziz on February 28, 1870, after a plebiscite of the Slavic population of Skopje, the first bishop of the Bulgarian Orthodox Diocese of Skopje was appointed in 1874. The Diocese eventually became part of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The Church of Our Lady became its local seat. After the incorporation of Skopje in 1912 in Serbia, the church was subordinated to the Serbian Orthodox Church. During Bulgarian occupation of the area in the First and in the Second World War the church was subordinated again to the BOC.
The church was affected by a fire during an Allied bombing raid on April 6, 1944. Part of the church plate was brought out of the burning building and was subsequently taken over by the Bulgarian church authorities. During the bombing, a number of properties of the BOC's Skopje diocese were seriously damaged. According to the negationist Macedonian historiography the church was burned up by the Bulgarian "fascistic occupiers".In 1950s it was subordinated to the Macedonian Orthodox Church. It remained a bishop's church until its destruction during the Skopje earthquake of 1963. From 2005 to 2008 it was completely reconstructed.
In 2018, a report and a photograph of preserved slab appeared in Macedonian media. On the slab was an inscription: "The Main Door of the Bulgarian People's Church of the Nativity of the Holy Virgin, July 20, 1879." The report has revealed that the slab was mounted on the church itself, but later was removed and kept for years in a secret place, as not to be destroyed by the Yugoslav authorities.Dormition of the Mother of God
The Dormition of the Mother of God (Greek: Κοίμησις Θεοτόκου, Koímēsis Theotokou often anglicized as Kimisis; Bulgarian: Успение на Пресвета Богородица, "Uspenie na Presveta Bogoroditsa", Russian: Успение Пресвятыя Богородицы, Uspenie Presvetia Bogoroditsi; Georgian: მიძინება ყოვლადწმიდისა ღვთისმშობელისა), Albanian: Fjetja e Shën Marisë, is a Great Feast of the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches which commemorates the "falling asleep" or death of Mary the Theotokos ("Mother of God", literally translated as God-bearer), and her bodily resurrection before being taken up into heaven. It is celebrated on 15 August (28 August N.S. for those following the Julian Calendar) as the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God. The Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates the Dormition not on a fixed date, but on the Sunday nearest 15 August.
The death or Dormition of Mary is not recorded in the Christian canonical scriptures.
Hippolytus of Thebes, a 7th- or 8th-century author, claims in his partially preserved chronology to the New Testament that Mary lived for 11 years after the death of Jesus, dying in AD 41.The term Dormition expresses the belief that the Virgin died without suffering, in a state of spiritual peace. This belief does not rest on any scriptural basis, but is affirmed by Orthodox Christian Holy Tradition. It is testified to in some old Apocryphal writings, but neither the Orthodox Church nor other Christians regard these as possessing scriptural authority.Fatih Mosque, Trabzon
The Fatih Mosque is a mosque in Ortahisar district of Trabzon Province, Turkey. It was originally built in Byzantine times as the Panagia Chrysokephalos Church (Greek: Παναγία Χρυσοκέφαλος, "Panagia the Golden-Headed"), serving as both the catholicon for the see of Trebizond, and a church for a monastery until the Ottoman conquest of the city in 1461. The Fatih Mosque also displays the most beautiful samples of the Ottoman writing arts.Fenari Isa Mosque
Fenâri Îsâ Mosque (full name in Turkish: Molla Fenâri Îsâ Câmîi), in Byzantine times known as the Lips Monastery (Greek: Μονή του Λιβός), is a mosque in Istanbul, made of two former Eastern Orthodox churches.Great feasts in the Eastern Orthodox Church
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the feast of the Resurrection of Jesus, called Pascha (Easter), is the greatest of all holy days and as such it is called the "feast of feasts". Immediately below it in importance, there is a group of Twelve Great Feasts (Greek: Δωδεκάορτον). Together with Pascha, these are the most significant dates on the Orthodox liturgical calendar. Eight of the great feasts are in honor of Jesus Christ, while the other four are dedicated to the Virgin Mary — the Theotokos.The Twelve Great Feasts are as follows (note that the liturgical year begins with the month of September):
The Nativity of the Theotokos, 8 September
The Exaltation of the Cross, 14 September
The Presentation of the Theotokos, 21 November
The Nativity of Christ/Christmas, 25 December
The Baptism of Christ — Theophany, also called Epiphany, 6 January
The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, 2 February
The Annunciation, 25 March
The Sunday before Pascha (Easter) — the Entry into Jerusalem or Flowery/Willow/Palm Sunday
Forty Days after Pascha (Easter) — the Ascension of Christ
Fifty Days after Pascha (Easter) — Pentecost
The Transfiguration, 6 August
The Dormition (Falling Asleep) of the Theotokos, 15 AugustBesides the Twelve Great Feasts, the Orthodox Church knows five other feasts that rank as great feasts, yet without being numbered among the twelve. They are: the Circumcision of Christ (1 January), the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (24 June), the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul (29 June), the Beheading of St John the Baptist (29 August), and the Protecting Veil of the Theotokos (1 October).Hodegetria
A Hodegetria (Greek: Ὁδηγήτρια, literally: "She who shows the Way"; Russian: Одигитрия), or Virgin Hodegetria, is an iconographic depiction of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) holding the Child Jesus at her side while pointing to Him as the source of salvation for humankind. The Virgin's head usually inclines towards the Child, who raises his hand in a blessing gesture. In the Western Church this type of icon is sometimes called Our Lady of the Way.
The most venerated icon of the Hodegetria type, regarded as the original, was displayed in the Monastery of the Panaghia Hodegetria in Constantinople, which was built specially to contain it. Unlike most later copies it showed the Theotokos standing full-length. It was said to have been brought back from the Holy Land by Eudocia, the wife of emperor Theodosius II (408–450), and have been painted by Saint Luke the apostle himself. The icon was double-sided, with a crucifixion on the other side, and was "perhaps the most prominent cult object in Byzantium".The original icon has probably now been lost, although various traditions claim that it was carried to Russia or Italy. There are a great number of copies of the image, including many of the most venerated of Russian icons, which have themselves acquired their own status and tradition of copying.Hymns to Mary
Marian hymns are Christian songs focused on the Virgin Mary. They are used in both devotional and liturgical services, particularly by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran churches. They are often used in the month of May devotions. Some have also been adopted as Christmas hymns. Marian hymns are not popular among Protestants, as many Protestants see Marian veneration as idolatry. However, the practice is very common among Christians of Catholic traditions, and a key component of the Eastern Orthodox liturgy. There are many more hymns to Mary within the Eastern Orthodox yearly cycle of liturgy than in Roman Catholic liturgy.The Magnificat hymn (song of the Virgin Mary) is one of the eight most ancient Christian hymns and historian Marjorie Reeves states that it is perhaps the earliest Christian hymn. The Magnificat is named after the opening line in the 4th century Vulgate Bible, based on Luke 1:46-55, and continues to be widely used to date by Roman Catholics, Anglicans and the Eastern Orthodox.Marian hymns are at times shared among different groups of Christians, or are influenced by other hymns. For instance, The second stanza of the Anglican hymn Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones is derived from the Eastern Orthodox hymn to the Theotokos.Marian hymns may be analyzed to shed light on the Mariological approach within a given historical period, e.g. the Akathist to the Theotokos has been the subject of detailed study related to the Marian themes it presents within its various components.Intercession of the Theotokos
The Intercession of the Theotokos or the Protection of Our Most Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, is a feast of the Mother of God celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic Churches.
The feast celebrates the protection afforded the faithful through the intercessions of the Theotokos (lit. Mother of God, the Eastern title of the Virgin Mary). In the Slavic Orthodox Churches it is celebrated as the most important solemnity besides the Twelve Great Feasts and Pascha. The feast is commemorated in Eastern Orthodoxy as a whole, but by no means as fervently as it is in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. It is not a part of the ritual traditions of, and therefore is not celebrated by, the Oriental Orthodox Churches or Western Rite Orthodoxy. Yet the feast is perfectly consistent with the theology of these sister churches. It is celebrated on October 14 (OS October 1).Kalenderhane Mosque
Kalenderhane Mosque (Turkish: Kalenderhane Camii) is a former Eastern Orthodox church in Istanbul, converted into a mosque by the Ottomans. With high probability the church was originally dedicated to the Theotokos Kyriotissa. The building is sometimes referred to as Kalender Haneh Jamissi and St. Mary Diaconissa. This building represents one among the few extant examples of a Byzantine church with domed Greek cross plan.Madonna (art)
A Madonna (Italian: [maˈdɔnna]) is a representation of Mary, either alone or with her child Jesus. These images are central icons for both the Catholic and Orthodox churches. The word is from Italian ma donna, meaning 'my lady'.
The Madonna and Child type is very prevalent in Christian iconography, divided into many traditional subtypes especially in Eastern Orthodox iconography, often known after the location of a notable icon of the type, such as the Theotokos of Vladimir, Agiosoritissa, Blachernitissa, etc., or descriptive of the depicted posture, as in Hodegetria, Eleusa, etc.
The term Madonna in the sense of "picture or statue of the Virgin Mary" enters English usage in the 17th century, primarily in reference to works of the Italian Renaissance. In an Eastern Orthodox context, such images are typically known as Theotokos. "Madonna" may be generally used of representations of Mary, with or without the infant Jesus, is the focus and central figure of the image, possibly flanked or surrounded by angels or saints. Other types of Marian imagery have a narrative context, depicting scenes from the Life of the Virgin, e.g. the Annunciation to Mary, are not typically called "Madonna".
The earliest depictions of Mary date still to Early Christianity (2nd to 3rd centuries), found in the Catacombs of Rome. These are in a narrative context. The classical "Madonna" or "Theotokos" imagery develops from the 5th century, as Marian devotion rose to great importance after the Council of Ephesus formally affirmed her status as "Mother of God or Theotokos ("God-bearer") in 431.
The Theotokos iconography as it developed in the 6th to 8th century rose to great importance in the high medieval period (12th to 14th centuries) both in the Eastern Orthodox and in the Latin spheres. According to a tradition recorded in the 8th century, Marian iconography goes back to a portrait drawn from life by Luke the Evangelist, with a number of icons (such as the Panagia Portaitissa) claimed to either represent this original icon or to be a direct copy of it. In the Western tradition, depictions of the Madonna were greatly diversified by Renaissance masters such as Duccio, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Giovanni Bellini, Caravaggio, and Rubens (and further by certain modernists such as Salvador Dalí and Henry Moore), while Eastern Orthodox iconography adheres more closely to the inherited traditional types.Magnificat
The Magnificat (Latin for "[My soul] magnifies [the Lord]") is a canticle, also known as the Song of Mary, the Canticle of Mary and, in the Byzantine tradition, the Ode of the Theotokos (Greek: Ἡ ᾨδὴ τῆς Θεοτόκου). It is traditionally incorporated into the liturgical services of the Catholic Church (at vespers) and of the Eastern Orthodox churches (at the morning services). It is one of the eight most ancient Christian hymns and perhaps the earliest Marian hymn. Its name comes from the incipit of the Latin version of the canticle's text.
The text of the canticle is taken directly from the Gospel of Luke (1:46–55) where it is spoken by Mary upon the occasion of her Visitation to her cousin Elizabeth. In the narrative, after Mary greets Elizabeth, who is pregnant with John the Baptist, the latter moves within Elizabeth's womb. Elizabeth praises Mary for her faith (using words partially reflected in the Hail Mary), and Mary responds with what is now known as the Magnificat.
Within the whole of Christianity, the Magnificat is most frequently recited within the Liturgy of the Hours. In Western Christianity, the Magnificat is most often sung or recited during the main evening prayer service: Vespers in the Catholic and Lutheran churches, and Evening Prayer (or Evensong) in Anglicanism. In Eastern Christianity, the Magnificat is usually sung at Sunday Matins. Among Protestant groups, the Magnificat may also be sung during worship services, especially in the Advent season during which these verses are traditionally read.Nativity of Mary
The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Nativity of Mary, or the Birth of the Virgin Mary, refers to a Christian feast day celebrating the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The modern canon of scripture does not record Mary's birth. The earliest known account of Mary's birth is found in the Protoevangelium of James (5:2), an apocryphal text from the late second century, with her parents known as Saint Anne and Saint Joachim.In the case of saints, the Church commemorates their date of death, with Saint John the Baptist and the Virgin Mary as the few whose birth dates are commemorated. The reason for this is found in the singular mission each had in salvation history, but traditionally also because these alone (besides the prophet Jeremiah, Jer 1:5) were holy in their very birth (for Mary, see Immaculate Conception; John was sanctified in Saint Elizabeth's womb according to the traditional interpretation of Lk 1:15).
Devotion to the innocence of Mary under this Marian title is widely celebrated in many cultures across the globe.Nestorianism
Nestorianism is a Christian theological doctrine that upholds several distinctive teachings in the fields of Christology and Mariology. It opposes the concept of hypostatic union and emphasizes that the two natures (human and divine) of Jesus Christ were joined by will rather than nature. This Christological position is defined as radical dyophisitism. Nestorianism was named after Christian theologian Nestorius (386–450), Patriarch of Constantinople from 428 to 431, who was influenced by Christological teachings of Theodore of Mopsuestia at the School of Antioch.
Nestorius' teachings brought him into conflict with other prominent church leaders, most notably Cyril of Alexandria, who criticized especially his rejection of the title Theotokos ("Mother of God") for Mary, the mother of Jesus, and issued 12 anathemas against him at a council in Rome in 430. Nestorius and his teachings were eventually condemned as heretical at the Council of Ephesus in 431, and again at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, which led to the Nestorian Schism; churches supporting Nestorian teachings broke with the rest of the Christian Church.
Following that, many of Nestorius's supporters relocated to the Sasanian Empire, where they affiliated with the local Christian community, known as the Church of the East. Over the next decades the Church of the East became increasingly Nestorian in doctrine, leading to it becoming known alternatively as the Nestorian Church.New Church of the Theotokos
The New Church of the Theotokos was a Byzantine church erected in Jerusalem by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I (r. 527–565).
Like the later Nea Ekklesia (Νέα Ἐκκλησία) in Constantinople, it is sometimes referred to in English as "The Nea".
The church was completed in 543 but was severely damaged or destroyed during the Persian conquest of the city in 614. It was further used as a source of building material by the Umayyads few decades later.Paraklesis
A Paraklesis (Greek: Παράκλησις, Slavonic: молебенъ) or Supplicatory Canon in the Byzantine Rite, is a service of supplication for the welfare of the living. It is addressed to a specific Saint or to the Most Holy Theotokos whose intercessions are sought through the chanting of the supplicatory canon together with psalms, hymns, and ekteniae (litanies).
The most popular Paraklesis is that in which the supplicatory canon and other hymns are addressed to the Most Holy Theotokos (the Mother of God). There are two forms of this service: the Small Paraklesis (composed by Theosterictus the Monk in the 9th century), and the Great Paraklesis (composed by Emperor Theodore II Laskaris in the 13th century). During the majority of the year, only the Small Paraklesis to the Theotokos is chanted. However, during the Dormition Fast (August 1—14, inclusive), the Typikon prescribes that the Small and Great Paraklesis be chanted on alternate evenings, according to the following regulations:
If August 1 falls on a Monday through Friday, the cycle begins with the Small Paraklesis. If August 1 falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the cycle begins with the Great Paraklesis.
On the eves of Sundays (i.e., Saturday nights) and on the eve of the Transfiguration (the night of August 5) the Paraklesis is omitted.
On Sunday nights, the Great Paraklesis is always used unless it is the eve of Transfiguration.Presentation of Mary
The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, known in the East as The Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple, is a liturgical feast celebrated on November 21 by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
The feast is associated with an event recounted not in the New Testament, but in the apocryphal Protoevangelium of James. According to that text, Mary's parents, Joachim and Anne, who had been childless, received a heavenly message that they would have a child. In thanksgiving for the gift of their daughter, they brought her, when still a child, to the Temple in Jerusalem to consecrate her to God. Later versions of the story (such as the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew and the Gospel of the Nativity of Mary) tell us that Mary was taken to the Temple at around the age of three in fulfillment of a vow. Tradition held that she was to remain there to be educated in preparation for her role as Mother of God.
In Eastern Orthodox tradition, this is one of the days when women named Mary (Μαρία in Greek) and Despoina (Δέσποινα) celebrate their name day.Theotokos of Vladimir
The Theotokos of Vladimir (Greek: Θεοτόκος του Βλαντίμιρ), also known as Our Lady of Vladimir, Vladimir Mother of God, or Virgin of Vladimir (Russian: Влади́мирская ико́на Бо́жией Ма́тери, Ukrainian: Вишгородська ікона Божої Матері) is a medieval Byzantine icon of the Virgin and Child. In 1169 Andrei Bogolyubsky sacked Kyiv, and, after plundering the city, stole much religious artwork, including a Byzantine "Mother of God" icon which was transferred to Vladimir (for references see Yury Dolgorukiy and Andrey Bogolyubskiy). It is one of the most venerated Orthodox icons and a fine and early example of the iconography of the Eleusa (tenderness) type, with the Christ child snuggling up to his mother's cheek. The Theotokos (Greek for Virgin Mary, literally meaning "Birth-Giver of God") is regarded as the holy protectress of Russia. The icon is displayed in the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow in a functioning church in the grounds of the museum. Her feast day is June 23rd o.s. / July 6th n.s. Even more than most famous icons, the original has been copied repeatedly for centuries, and many copies have considerable artistic and religious significance of their own.Unlike some icons with a special following in religious terms the high artistic quality of the work is universally agreed, and the Vladimirskaya, as Russians call it, is generally accepted as the finest of the few Byzantine icons surviving from its period, and according to the art historian David Talbot Rice "is admitted by all who have seen it to be one of the most outstanding religious paintings of the world".
of the faithful