Mary is known by many different titles (Blessed Mother, Madonna, Our Lady), epithets (Star of the Sea, Queen of Heaven, Cause of Our Joy), invocations (Theotokos, Panagia, Mother of Mercy) and other names (Our Lady of Loreto, Our Lady of Guadalupe).
All of these titles refer to the same individual named Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ (in the New Testament) and are used variably by Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and some Anglicans. (Note: Mary Magdalene, Mary of Clopas, and Mary Salome are different individuals from Mary, mother of Jesus.)
Many of the titles given to Mary are dogmatic in nature. Other titles are poetic or allegorical and have lesser or no canonical status, but which form part of popular piety, with varying degrees of acceptance by the clergy. Yet more titles refer to depictions of Mary in the history of art.
There are several stories on the significance of the relatively large number of titles given to Mary. Some titles grew due to geographic and cultural reasons, e.g. through the veneration of specific icons. Others were related to Marian apparitions.
Mary's help is sought for a large spectrum of human needs in varied situations. This led to the formulation of many of her titles (good counsel, help of the sick, etc.). Moreover, meditations and devotions on the different aspects of the Virgin Mary's role within the life of Jesus led to additional titles such as Our Lady of Sorrows. Still further titles have been derived from dogmas and doctrines, such as the Immaculate Conception.
Mary's cultus or "devotional cult" consolidated in the year 431 when, at the Council of Ephesus, the Theotokos, or Mary as bearer (or mother) of God, was declared dogma. Henceforth Marian devotion—which centered on the subtle and complex relationship between Mary, Jesus, and the Church—would flourish, first in the East and later in the West.
The Reformation diminished Mary's role in many parts of Northern Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Council of Trent and Counter Reformation would intensify Marian devotion in the West. Around the same period, Mary would become an instrument of evangelization in the Americas and parts of Asia and Africa, e.g. via the apparitions at Our Lady of Guadalupe which resulted in a large number of conversions to Christianity in Mexico.
Following the Reformation, as of the 17th century, the baroque literature on Mary experienced unforeseen growth with over 500 pages of Mariological writings during the 17th century alone. During the Age of Enlightenment, the emphasis on scientific progress and rationalism put Catholic theology and Mariology often on the defensive in the later parts of the 18th century, to the extent that books such as The Glories of Mary (by Alphonsus Liguori) were written in defense of Mariology.
“Our Lady” is a common title to give to Mary as a sign of respect and honor. In French she is called "Notre Dame" and in Spanish she is "Nuestra Señora".
|Mary||Maria||Mariam (Μαριάμ), Maria (Μαρία)||Arabic: Maryām (مريم), Chinese: (瑪利亞), Coptic: Maria (Ⲙⲁⲣⲓⲁ), French: Marie, German: Maria, Italian: Maria, Judeo-Aramaic: Maryām (מרים), Maltese: Marija, Portuguese: Maria, Russian: Marija (Мария), Spanish: María, Syriac: Mariam, Vietnamese: Maria|
|"Full of Grace", "Blessed", "Most Blessed"||Gratia plena, Beata, Beatissima||kecharitomene (κεχαριτωμένη)||from the angel's greeting to Mary in Luke 1:28;|
|"Virgin", "the Virgin"||Virgo||Parthenos (Παρθένος)||Greek parthenos used in Matthew 1:22; Ignatius of Antioch refers to Mary's virginity and motherhood (ca. 110);|
|"Cause of our Salvation"||causa salutis||according to Irenaeus of Lyons (150–202);|
|"Mother of God"||Mater Dei||Meter Theou (Μήτηρ Θεοῦ)||often abbr. ΜΡ ΘΥ in Greek iconography;|
|"God-bearer"||Deipara, Dei genitrix||Theotokos (Θεοτόκος)||lit. "one who bears the One who is God"; a common title in Eastern Christianity with christological implications; adopted officially during Council of Ephesus (431) in response to Nestorianism, which questioned the Church's teaching that Jesus Christ's nature was unified;|
|"Ever-virgin"||semper virgo||aei-parthenos (ἀειπάρθενος)|
|"Holy Mary", "Saint Mary"||Sancta Maria||Hagia Maria (Ἁγία Μαρία)||Greek invocation is infrequent in contemporary Eastern Christianity;|
|"Most Holy"||Sanctissima, tota Sancta||Panagia (Παναγία)|
|"Lady", "Mistress"||Domina||Despoina (Δέσποινα)||related, "Madonna" (Italian: Madonna, from ma "my" + donna "lady"; from Latin domina); also, "Notre Dame" (French: Notre Dame, lit. "our lady");|
|"Queen of Heaven"||Regina Coeli, Regina Caeli||Mary is identified with the figure in Revelation 12:1;|
|Image Type||Typical Art Style||Description|
|Byzantine||Mary holds Christ in her left hand and with her right hand she "shows the way" by pointing to Him;|
|Romanesque||Christ is seated in His mother Mary's lap, symbolically the "Throne of Wisdom";|
|Gothic||Based loosely on Byzantine Hodegetria iconography; typically depicts a standing, smiling Mary and playful Christ Child; considered one of the earliest depictions of Mary that is strictly Western;|
|Gothic and Renaissance||The Virgin is depicted breastfeeding the Holy Infant. One of the earliest depictions (if not the earliest depiction) of Mary, is Our Lady nursing, as painted in the Catacomb of Priscilla in Rome, c. A.D. 250; Discouraged by the Council of Trent and rare subsequently.|
|Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque||A regal, celestial Mary is depicted covering the faithful in her protective mantle; first arose in the late 13th century in Central Europe and Italy; depiction is commonly associated with plague monuments.|
|Gothic||Mary is seated in majesty, holding the Christ Child; based on Byzantine Nikopoia iconography;|
|Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque||Mary cradles the dead body of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion; this type emerged first in the 13th century in Germany as an Andachtsbild or devotional icon relating to grief; Italian Pietàs appeared in the 14th century; Michelangelo's Pietà (1498–1499) is considered a masterpiece;|
|Renaissance, Baroque||Iconic Western depiction with many variations; based loosely on Byzantine Glykophilousa ("sweet kisses") iconography; Mary turns her gaze away from the Christ Child as she contemplates His future Passion; Renaissance emphasis on classical ideal types, realistic human anatomy, and linear perspective are evident;|
Other devotional titles include:
Other titles related to images include:
A number of titles of Mary found in Latin America pertain to cultic images of her represented in iconography identified with a particular already existent title adapted to a particular place. Our Lady of Luján in Argentina refers to a small terracotta image made in Brazil and sent to Argentina in May, 1630. Its appearance seems to have been inspired by Murillo's Immaculates. Our Lady of Copacabana (Bolivia): is a figure related to devotion to Mary under the title "Most Blessed Virgin de la Candelaria, Our Lady of Copacabana". About four feet in height, the statue was made by Francisco Tito Yupanqui around 1583 and is garbed in the colors and dress of an Inca princess.
The Archdiocesan Marian Shrine, formerly known as the Milwaukee Fatima Shrine and the National Shrine to Our Lady of Fatima, is of the Roman Catholic Church and a shrine to the Virgin Mary. It is operated by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee, which acquired the property from the Dominican Sisters of the Perpetual Rosary. It is located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The shrine was dedicated on April 26, 1948. The shrine also has a small indoor chapel and stone representations of the 15 mysteries of the rosary.Black Madonna of Częstochowa
The Black Madonna of Częstochowa (Polish: Czarna Madonna or Matka Boska Częstochowska, Latin: Imago thaumaturga Beatae Virginis Mariae Immaculatae Conceptae, in Claro Monte), also known as Our Lady of Częstochowa, is a revered icon of the Virgin Mary housed at the Jasna Góra Monastery in Częstochowa, Poland. Several Pontiffs have recognised the venerated icon, beginning with Pope Clement XI who issued a Canonical Coronation to the image on 8 September 1717 via the Vatican Chapter.Christotokos
Christotokos is the Greek title of Mary, the mother of Jesus used historically by non-Ephesians followers of the Church of the East. Its literal English translations include Christ-bearer and the one who gives birth to Christ. Less literal translations include Mother of Christ.Eleusa icon
The Eleusa (or Eleousa) (Greek: Ἐλεούσα – tenderness or showing mercy) is a type of depiction of the Virgin Mary in icons in which the infant Jesus Christ is nestled against her cheek. In the Western church the type is often known as the Virgin of Tenderness.Ivory tower
An ivory tower is a place — or an atmosphere — where people are happily cut off from the rest of the world in favor of their own pursuits, usually mental and esoteric ones. From the 19th century, it has been used to designate an environment of intellectual pursuit disconnected from the practical concerns of everyday life.Madonna Della Strada
Madonna Della Strada or Santa Maria Della Strada — the Italian for Our Lady of the Wayside, or Our Lady of the Good Road — is the name of an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, enshrined at the Church of the Gesù in Rome, mother church of the Society of Jesus religious order of the Roman Catholic Church and is a variation on the Eastern basilissa (imperial) type of icon.The Madonna Della Strada is the patroness of the Society of Jesus. Its founder, Ignatius of Loyola, was said to have been protected by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary during battle in his service as a soldier.Malia O Ka Malu
Malia O Ka Malu or Our Lady of Peace is an appellation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Hawaiian language. It is shortened from "Malia o ka Malu Hale Pule Nui", a title of the mother church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace.
Other Hawaiian churches honoring the Virgin include
Maria Lanakila, Our Lady of Victory, in Lahaina
Malia Hoku O Ke Kai, Mary the Star of the Sea, in Kahala
Malia Puka O Ka Lani, Mary the Gate of Heaven, in HiloOur Lady, Star of the Sea
Our Lady, Star of the Sea is an ancient title for the Virgin Mary. The words Star of the Sea are a translation of the Latin title Stella Maris.
The title has been in use since at least the early medieval period. Originally arising from a scribal error in a supposed etymology of the name Mary, it came to be seen as allegorical of Mary's role as "guiding star" on the way to Christ. Under this name, the Virgin Mary is believed to intercede as a guide and protector of seafarers in particular, the Apostleship of the Sea, and many coastal churches are named Stella Maris or Star of the Sea.Our Lady of Laus
Our Lady of Laus (French: Notre-Dame du Laus) or Refuge of Sinners denotes Marian apparitions that took place between 1664 and 1718 in Saint-Étienne-le-Laus, France, to Benoite Rencurel, a young shepherdess. They were approved by the Holy See on May 5, 2008.Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary in her role as patroness of the Carmelite Order. The first Carmelites were Christian hermits living on Mount Carmel in the Holy Land during the late 12th and early to mid-13th century. They built in the midst of their hermitages a chapel which they dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, whom they conceived of in chivalric terms as the "Lady of the place." Our Lady of Mount Carmel was adopted in the 19th century as the patron saint of Chile, in South America.
Since the 15th century, popular devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel has centered on the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, also known as the Brown Scapular. Traditionally, Mary is said to have given the Scapular to an early Carmelite named Saint Simon Stock (1165-1265). The liturgical feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is celebrated on 16 July.The solemn liturgical feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was probably first celebrated in England in the later part of the 14th century. Its object was thanksgiving to Mary, the patroness of the Carmelite Order, for the benefits she had accorded to it through its difficult early years. The institution of the feast may have come in the wake of the vindication of their title "Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary" at Cambridge, England in 1374. The date chosen was 17 July; on the European mainland this date conflicted with the feast of St. Alexis, requiring a shift to 16 July, which remains the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel throughout the Catholic Church. The Latin poem "Flos Carmeli" (meaning "Flower of Carmel") first appears as the sequence for this Mass.Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Our Lady of Perpetual Help (also known as Our Lady of Perpetual Succour) is a Roman Catholic title of the Blessed Virgin Mary as represented in a celebrated 15th-century Byzantine icon also associated with the same Marian apparition.
The icon originated from the Keras Kardiotissas Monastery and has been in Rome since 1499. Today it is permanently enshrined in the Church of Saint Alphonsus, where the official Novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help text is prayed weekly.
On 23 June 1867, Pope Pius IX granted the image its Canonical Coronation along with its present title. The Redemptorist Congregation of priest and brothers they are the only religious order currently entrusted by the Holy See to protect and propagate a Marian religious work of art. In the Eastern Orthodox Church iconography, the image is known as the ”Virgin Theotokos of the Passion” due to the instruments of the Passion of Jesus Christ present on the image.
The feast day of the image is celebrated on June 27, with novena devotions held every Wednesday. Under Pope Pius XII's Pontificate, the image was designated as the national Patroness of the Republic of Haiti and Almoradi, Spain. In addition, Pope John Paul II issued a canonical coronation for a similar image in Jaworzno, Poland in 16 June 1999.
Due to the propagation of the Redemptorist Priests since 1865, the image has become very popular among Roman Catholics. Modern reproductions are oftentimes displayed in residential homes, commercial establishments, and public transportation.Our Lady of Pontmain
Our Lady of Pontmain, also known as Our Lady of Hope, is the title given to the Virgin Mary on her apparition at Pontmain, France on 17 January 1871. These apparitions were approved by Pope Pius IX.Our Lady of Turumba
Our Lady of Sorrows of Turumba (Spanish: Nuestra Señora de los Dolores de Turumba; Tagalog: Mahál na Iná ng Pitóng Hapis ng Turumba) is the image of the Virgin Mary as Our Lady of Sorrows, enshrined in Pakil, Laguna, in the Philippines.Our Lady of Zeitoun
Our Lady of Zeitoun, also known simply as El-Zeitoun, Zeitun or rarely Our Lady of Light, was an alleged mass Marian apparition that is supposed to have occurred in the Zeitoun district of Cairo, Egypt, over a period of 2–3 years beginning on April 2, 1968.Our Lady of the Rosary
Our Lady of the Rosary, also known as Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, is a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary in relation to the Rosary.
The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, formerly known as Our Lady of Victory and Feast of the Holy Rosary, is a feast day of the Roman Catholic Church, celebrated on 7 October, the anniversary of the decisive victory of the combined fleet of the Holy League of 1571 over the Ottoman navy at the Battle of Lepanto.Panagia
Panagia (Greek: Παναγία, fem. of panágios, pan- + hágios, the All-Holy, or the Most Holy; pronounced Greek pronunciation: [panaˈʝia]) in Medieval and Modern Greek, also transliterated Panayia or Panaghia, is one of the titles of Mary, the mother of Jesus, used especially in Eastern Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity.
Most Greek churches dedicated to the Virgin Mary are called Panagia; the standard western Christian designation of "St. Mary" is rarely used in the Orthodox East, as Mary is considered the holiest of all human beings and therefore of higher status than the Saints.Regina Caeli
Regina caeli (Ecclesiastical Latin: [reˈdʒina ˈtʃeli]; English: Queen of Heaven) is a musical antiphon addressed to the Blessed Virgin Mary that is used in the liturgy of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church during the Easter season, from Easter Sunday until Pentecost. During this season, it is the Marian antiphon that ends Compline (Night Prayer) and it takes the place of the traditional thrice-daily Angelus prayer.
In the past, the spelling Regina coeli was sometimes used, but this spelling is no longer found in official liturgical books.Tonantzin
In classical Aztec mythology and among present-day Nahuas, Tonantzin (Classical Nahuatl: Tonāntzin [toˈnáːn.tsin]) is the title of an Aztec mother goddess.Virgin of Los Remedios
The Virgin of Los Remedios (Spanish: La Virgen de los Remedios) or Our Lady of Los Remedios (Portuguese: Nossa Senhora dos Remédios, Spanish: Nuestra Señora de los Remedios) is a title of the Virgin Mary developed by the Trinitarian Order, founded in the late 12th century. The devotion became tied to the Reconquista of Spain, then still at its height. In the following century it spread to other parts of Europe. When Spain began the exploration and conquest of the Americas, it was a favorite devotion of the Spanish conquistadores. It remains a popular devotion in Spain and Latin America.