In pre-Christian Mediterranean cultures the many cosmic goddesses were a background for an early and vigorous diaspora of Christian traditions on Mary. In Europe, important preparations for widespread medieval Marian devotion were made at the ubiquitous prehistoric goddess worship sites at springs, caves, and wooded areas. A strong devotion to Mary accompanied the first Catholic settlers to the Western Hemisphere. They were mostly Spanish (1492), French (1534), and English (1634). In the New World the strength and survival of a great variety of European Marian traditions can often be traced back to ingenious adaptations by the practitioners of indigenous and Afro-Caribbean rituals.
The Marian devotions imported to French territories were mostly limited to a few titles of Mary approved by Rome and universal throughout Europe. There had been no preparation among the huntergatherer natives of Canada for an effective grafting of Marian devotions onto an organized goddess-worship system. Nonetheless, Indians were at times deeply moved by the pictures of Mary used by Jesuit missionaries at sites such as Sault Ste. Marie, Immaculate Conception Mission on the Illinois River, and later, in the Northwest.
English Catholic colonists arriving in Maryland in 1634 named their first settlement St. Mary's City. Devotions to Mary under a few general European Marian titles continued but were kept private due to religious struggles with dominant Protestants. The destruction of indigenous societies and the consequent establishment of a secular-commercial civilization preempted a deeply rooted Marian religious culture among future U.S. Catholics. However, upon his consecration as North America's first Roman Catholic bishop in 1790, John Carroll spread an official devotion to the small number of colonial Catholics based on his experiences at the Italian shrine of Our Lady of Loretto. A few religious orders, such as the Sulpicians and the Carmelites, were also beginning to establish limited and generalized Eurocentric Marian titles.
With the conquest of Latin America, more than five hundred separate Spanish Marian cults were introduced. These were the vestiges of a huge number of local Iberian goddess traditions, and each Marian cult had individualized local histories, rituals, and iconographies. Very many of the images preserved legends about their miraculous discovery in Spain's wilderness after eight hundred years of Muslim domination. Most were gradually appropriated by the official church but usually maintained a basic folk ownership. Titles and specific American images such as Nuestra Señora de Altagracia and Nuestra Señora de la Caridad were introduced early into Caribbean settlements. From the beginning, they accumulated additional popular symbolisms and narratives frequently related to struggles of poverty, hunger, sickness, exploitation, racial persecution, and so on. For example, the rediscovery of the Spanish statue of Nuestra Señora de la Caridad in the ocean by three young Cuban slaves—two indigenous and one black—is the root legend for its New World transformation. "Del Cobre" was added to this Virgin's name because the devotion and shrine were developed in the copper mining town of Cobre, which had a large slave population. The trajectory of this devotion among colonial populations reveals a basic paradigm for the development of a great many other Latin American Marian cultures.
Another precondition frequently existed. The Mexica (Aztecs) and the many other civilizations of Central and South America were organized within systems of territories, cities, villages, and neighborhoods called calpulli, each with their patron deities. Important areas and sites, and also significant forces of nature, were under the protection and control of goddesses. Individual citizens, households, trades, working tools and activities, trees, hilltops, crossroads, and every single day in the calendar (tonalamatl) were each assigned to a specific god within an immense pantheon of at least sixteen hundred deities possessing their own identifying iconographies. Feminine deities were preeminent. Teteoinnan was Mother of all Gods. Toci was Our Grandmother; Atlan, Our Mother; Cihuacoatl, Woman Serpent; Ilamatecuhtli, Old Lady; Tonantzin, Our Mother, Earth Mother, Mother of Fertility, Mother of Flowers (very closely associated later with Our Lady of Guadalupe), and so on.
Spanish missionary practice alternated between efforts to eradicate these indigenous religious cultures and efforts to insert into them an endless variety of Virgin Mary and other saints' traditions. These would often take the forms of lay fraternities (cofradías), through which Indians preserved elements of their own religions. Furthermore, Charles V's New Laws of 1542 attempted to protect Indian property and hence, indirectly, some of the older religious observances. In effect there developed a coexistence of indigenous religious systems with Catholic Virgin Mary and saints' devotions and fiestas. There were frequent Marian titular designations for personal names, lands, temples, natural sites, villages, and lay groups. Native responses to official Catholic religious questionnaires, such as that of royal chronicler Juan Lopez de Velasco in 1577, were based on incomplete indigenous historiographies and native pictographs that were impossible for the Spanish to decipher accurately. Moreover, Catholic images of Mary and the saints afforded direct access to sacred powers the indigenous religions had already possessed in their own ways. The worship of Jesus was largely controlled by ecclesiastical authorities, but the ubiquitous number and variety of cults to Mary allowed the faithful to frequently bypass official church control, partly due to the absence of an adequate number of priests, especially in outlying areas. Indians and mestizos continued the indigenous custom of dressing goddess effigies in robes appropriate for each feast day. They continued to develop curanderismo (folk medicine) systems using titles and images of Mary and the saints, still obvious today in the many botanica shops throughout U.S. Latino neighborhoods. The cofradías and their chosen Marian titles were very popular and politically effective among the castas (racial mixtures), since official Spanish census lists did not record persons by race or racial mixture. This encouraged a very rich crossfertilization of Marian cofradías that sponsored occupational groups, apprenticeships, artistic expression, public sponsorships for fiestas, neighborhood organizations, and other kinds of services and reputations that enhanced ethnic identities. The profuse racial mixtures of Spanish colonial society must be taken into account to appreciate the fermentation in varieties of Marian devotions. The major divisions of the castas were españoles (Spanish born in Spain), criollos (Spanish born in the New World), indios (well over five hundred cultures), negros (slaves and free), mestizos (español + indio), castizos (español + mestizo), mulatos (español + negro), morisco (español + mulato), lobo (indio + negro), coyote (indio + mulato), and chino (indio + lobo). The great Mexican mystic and intellectual Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz (1648–1695) composed Christmas carols for these different castas.
An example of casta contribution to New World Marian tradition is the 1695 wilderness discovery by the wood gatherer Juana Pereira of a negroid statuette of Mary, La Negreta. This developed into the national Costa Rican Marian title of Nuestra Señora de los Angeles. Numerous other Latin American Marian cults originated among wood gatherers, wood carvers, fishermen, farm laborers, and pack carriers, such as Nuestra Señora de Ocotlan (Tlaxcala, 1541), Señora de Esperanza (Michoacan, 1685), Nuestra Señora de Quinche (Ecuador, 1585), Nuestra Señora de Copacabana (Bolivia, 1579), and Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (Tepeyac, 1531). The original images were those of dark-skinned maidens called morenitas.
The hordes of European Catholic immigrants who inundated the United States during the nineteenth century established a pluralistic, ethnic church. They brought with them and established their own Marian devotions, but these were normally under more official titles, such as the Immaculate Conception, which itself frequently split into subsidiary devotions such as the Miraculous Medal, the Sacred Heart of Mary, or Our Lady of Lourdes. For a while the devotions to the Immaculate Mary symbolized a cultural resistance to the dominant secular U.S. civilization and strengthened the ethnic identities of Irish, Italian, German, Polish, Lithuanian, Slovak, and African-American Catholics. A type of Marian melting pot approach soon developed as Catholic ethnic groups assimilated to a consumer culture. However, there remain a few Marian shrines throughout the United States that preserve some of their European ethnic Catholic backgrounds. Because Florida stayed Spanish until 1821 and had retained connections to Catholic slaves in the Caribbean and escaped slaves from the North, Latin American Marian cofradia titles were often inherited among the black Catholic confraternities in St. Augustine (Florida), Baltimore, Mobile, and New Orleans. Today, other U.S. Catholic minorities manage to preserve an energetic Marian spirituality, such as the Vietnamese, who participate in a massive gathering in southwestern Missouri every August 15 for the Feast of the Assumption. Filipinos also observe their own public fiestas, such as that of Nuestra Señora de Antipolo in Chicago.
However, after 1960, for the majority of U.S. Catholics, there was a great erosion in Marian traditions. Earlier ethnic Catholics had assimilated to U.S. secularism, but the Second Vatican Council (1963–1965) reduced Marian tradition almost to an afterthought in its key document Lumen Gentium and hence influenced a considerable weakening in U.S. Catholic Marian spirituality. But there had already been a kind of melting pot reduction in North American Marian observances. However, in 1979 the Latin American Bishops' Conference held in Puebla, Mexico, compensated for Vatican II's lack of a strong and multicultural Mariology with a firm support for popular religion and questioned "any universality that is synonymous with uniformity or leveling that fails to respect different cultures by weakening them, absorbing them, or annihilating them." The conference criticized religious universality used as a tool of domination by "some peoples or social strata over other peoples and social strata." The Puebla documents also praise popular religion as a "storehouse of values" and a power for resisting cultures of consumerism among dominant groups.
These Latin American developments supported the ongoing fermentation in Marian popular religion among Latin America's poor—the vast majority of the population. These poor are now streaming into the United States, so that Hispanics will soon be 50 percent of U.S. Catholics. Both legal and undocumented immigrants are rapidly adding to the U.S. Hispanic/Latino population which will number forty million before long. They continue to bring with them a great repertoire of Marian customs. With a few notable exceptions, Catholic parishes usually do not publically sustain much variety in Latin American Marian observances. Some dioceses have an annual, centralized Marian celebration to which Latino ethnic groups bring their own images of Mary. But the people themselves preserve a rich variety of Marian customs in their homes and in their ever-expanding botanica shops. Each of the many U.S. Latino/Hispanic Marian traditions continues to possess its own unique image and history, with important influences contributed by Latin American Indian and Afro-Caribbean cultures. Great numbers of new immigrants and the many circular migrants reinvigorate many of the second- and third-generation Hispanic Marian practices that might have become submerged or manipulated beneath a more generic Catholicism. Latin American refugees fleeing natural disasters, political persecution, or economic hardship enter the United States highlighting their narratives of exile with miracles of Mary's deliverance. U.S. Latin American ethnic groups continue to support a thriving multiplicity of unique Marian traditions that challenge any kind of arid or sterile uniformity. A few of the most notable Hispanic/Latino Marian devotions in the United States today are: Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (Mexico), Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre (Cuba), Nuestra Señora de Providentia (Puerto Rico), and Nuestra Señora de San Juan de Lagos (Mexico).
A Hispanic/Latino multicultural Marian hemispherization is the strongest development in devotion to Mary taking place today in the United States among the people. How this Latino fecundity in the many expressions of its Marian cultures will affect the mono-cultural Catholicism of the United States remains to be seen.
Chance, John K. Race and Class in Colonial Oaxaca. 1978.
Davis, Cyprian, O. S. B. The History of Black Catholics inthe United States. 1995.
Deck, Allan Figueroa, S. J., The Second Wave: HispanicMinority and the Evangelization of Culture. 1989.
Díaz-Stevens, Ana María, and Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo. Recognizing the Latino Resurgence in U.S. Religion. 1998.
Gruzinski, Serge. The Conquest of Mexico: The Incorporation of Indian Societies into the Western World, Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries. 1993.
Holler, Stephen C. "Exploring the Popular Religion of U.S. Hispanic/Latino Ethnic Groups," LatinoStudies Journal 6 (1995): 3–29.
Holler, Stephen C. Mary and the Poor in Latin Americasince Vatican II: Responses of the Church to Marian Popular Religon. 1992.
Holler, Stephen C. "The Origins of Marian Devotion in Latin American Cultures in the United States." Marian Studies 46 (1995): 108–127.
Matibag, Eugenio. Afro-Cuban Religious Experience. 1996.
Price, Richard, ed. Maroon Societies: Rebel Slave Communities in the Americas. 1996.
Sargent, Daniel. Our Land and Our Lady. 1939.
Wauchope, Robert, ed. Handbook of Middle AmericanIndians, vol. 10. 1971.
Stephen C. Holler
The maintenance of French catholic interests in Scotland was the prime aim of the queen mother, Mary of Guise, whose increasing importance was recognized in 1554 when she replaced Arran as regent. Her daughter's marriage to Francis in April 1558 bound Scotland to a French monarchy heavily influenced by the militant catholicism and dynastic ambition of the young queen's Guise relatives. In catholic eyes Elizabeth Tudor was illegitimate and her accession to the English throne in November 1558 a usurpation of Mary Stuart's lawful right to succeed. When Henri II died on 10 July 1559, the new French monarchs, Francis II and Mary, united a dynastic inheritance encompassing potentially not just France and Scotland but also England and Ireland.
The potential was never realized, however, for the death of Francis on 5 December 1560 left Mary a childless widow. Her decision to return to Scotland in August 1561, where in 1559–60 a protestant revolution had seen the defeat and death of Mary of Guise and the establishment of an English-backed administration led by Mary's half-brother Lord James Stewart, was driven by the desire to pursue her dynastic ambitions within Britain. Spurning the opportunity to lead a catholic counter-revolution, Mary chose instead to deal with her half-brother, whose close links with Elizabeth held out the hope of official recognition in the English succession. While maintaining her own catholic household—thus leaving open communications with France and the papacy—Mary made no move against the newly reformed Scottish kirk.
Yet the stability of Mary's rule depended on a delicate balancing act which the explosive issue of her marriage was always likely to upset. Neither the threat of a foreign catholic match nor the tireless efforts of Lord James—now earl of Moray—persuaded Elizabeth to recognize Mary as her heir. If Mary's catholic marriage to Darnley on 29 July 1565 was a love-match, the rehabilitation of the Lennox Stewarts, whose claim to the English throne was second only to that of Mary, was also a calculated diplomatic snub. Mary easily rode out the ensuing storm—an abortive rebellion by Moray which Elizabeth was impotent to support—but the problems posed by the rapid breakdown of relations with Darnley proved insoluble. Embittered by the now pregnant queen's refusal to grant him the crown matrimonial, Darnley joined the Rizzio conspiracy of March 1566, a protestant demonstration against the possibility of a catholic succession which proved futile. Mary gave birth to a son on 19 June 1566 and the future James VI was baptized a catholic on 17 December.
Mary's complicity in Darnley's murder on 10 February 1567 cannot now be established with certainty. However, her marriage on 15 May to the leading suspect, the earl of Bothwell, jeopardized her claim to innocence and handed her opponents the chance to destroy her. Moves to ‘liberate’ her from Bothwell led in July 1567 to her enforced abdication and the appointment of Moray as regent. Moray's regime was far from secure, however, and Mary mustered extensive support on her escape from confinement in May 1568. Although defeated at Langside, it was her ill-considered flight to England which sealed her fate. Characteristically, Elizabeth prevaricated endlessly over signing her dynastic rival's death-warrant. But Mary's incessant plotting and involvement in a series of catholic intrigues led finally to her execution at Fotheringhay on 8 February 1587.
Roger A. Mason
Fraser, A. , Mary, Queen of Scots (1969).
Mary, mother of Jesus of Nazareth, occupies a preeminent position in the theology and piety of the traditional Eastern and Western Churches.
Information about the life of Mary is extremely sparse (Matthew 1 and 2; Luke 1 and 2). It is clear that for Matthew and Luke in their Gospels, Mary's conception of Jesus was miraculous, involving no human paternity, and that her son was the Messiah expected by Israel. Mary belonged to the house of David (Luke 1:26), was engaged to a man called Joseph (Matthew 1:18), and lived in Nazareth in lower Galilee (Luke 1:26). The Gospel relates how an angel of God announced that she, though a virgin, would conceive the son of the "Most High," to be named Jesus, and that he would found a new Davidic kingdom (Luke 1:31-33). Mary consented. Joseph discovered that Mary was with child and wished to dissolve the engagement quietly. In a dream, however, God's angel admonished him to marry Mary because the son she would bear was the result of a divine intervention (Matthew 1:19-21).
Before her marriage, Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, and on that occasion more prophetic utterances made quite clear that Mary's future son would be the fulfillment of Israel's hopes. No further personal details are given of Mary. Her silent presence at the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:12-21; Luke 2:1-7) is recorded. When the child was presented at the Temple to be redeemed according to Jewish law, the aging Simeon told Mary that she would suffer much (Luke 2:21-35). Later, when Jesus at the age of 12 was lost for 3 days, his parents found him among the doctors of the law, and the first of Mary's two recorded statements appears: "My son, why have you acted so with us? Your father and I have looked for you in sorrow" (Luke 2:41-48). Luke adds: Mary kept all these happenings in her memory.
Mary appears again (John 2:1 ff) at a marriage in the town of Cana when her second recorded statement occurs: "They have no wine," she told Jesus. Jesus thereupon turned water into wine. She appears with the relatives of Jesus in an attempt to see him during his public life (Mark 3:3 ff) and at the foot of Jesus' cross when he entrusts her to the care of John the Apostle (John 19:26 ff). She is also mentioned briefly in the Acts of the Apostles (1:14).
The dates of Mary's life can only be surmised. Present researches place the birth of Jesus between 7 and 4 B.C. Granting Mary a minimal age of 16 to 18 years at the time of Jesus' birth, this would place her birth at sometime about 22-20 B.C. There is no precise information as to her death. In the later development of the Eastern and Western Churches, Mary was proclaimed the mother of God. Her position was further defined in the Roman Catholic Church, which in 1854 stated as an article of faith that she had been conceived without the original sin which affects all men. In 1950 Pius XII declared that at her death Mary's body had not corrupted in a grave but that God had taken her body and soul into heaven.
Most of the books written on this subject are either Roman Catholic devotional books, such as Juniper B. Carol, Mariology (1955), or Roman Catholic studies of theology. Nothing has been published concerning the archaeological excavations at Nazareth. For a view of Mary by a Protestant Church historian consult Giovanni Miegge, The Virgin Mary: The Roman Catholic Marian Doctrine (1950; trans. 1955). □
Mary is the name of the mother of Jesus, known as the (Blessed) Virgin Mary, St Mary, or Our Lady. According to the Gospels she was a virgin betrothed to Joseph at the time of the Annunciation and conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. She has been venerated by Catholic and Orthodox Churches from the earliest Christian times, and her feast days are, 1 January (Roman Catholic Church), 25 March (Annunciation), 15 August (Assumption), 8 September (Nativity), 8 December (Immaculate Conception).
St Mary Magdalene in the New Testament, a woman of Magdala in Galilee. She was a follower of Jesus, who cured her of evil spirits (Luke 8:2), and was present at the Crucifixion. She went with other women to anoint his body in the tomb and found it empty; she is the first of those in the Gospels to whom the risen Christ appeared. Mary Magdalene is also traditionally identified with the ‘sinner’ of Luke 7:37 who anointed Jesus's feet with oil, and with Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus. Although the identification is now rejected in the Roman Calendar, it is implicit in traditional legends and representations. She may be shown with a jar of ointment, or in a scene of the Crucifixion, and her feast day is 22 July.See also the Magdalen.
St Mary of Egypt a 5th-century Egyptian saint who, according to her legend, after living as a prostitute was converted on a visit to Jerusalem and became a hermit. Taking three loaves for food, she withdrew to live in the desert, where she remained for the rest of her life, surviving on dates and berries. When she died, a lion helped to bury her body. She was sometimes referred to informally as Mary Gypsy. Her usual emblems are the three loaves, and the lion, and her feast day is usually 2 April, but may be celebrated on 9 or 10 April.
See also 69. CATHOLICISM ;79. CHRIST ;80. CHRISTIANITY ;183. GOD and GODS ;349. RELIGION ;359. SAINTS ;392. THEOLOGY .
- the veneration offered by Roman Catholics to the Virgin Mary as the most exalted of human beings.
- an adherent of Jovinian, a 4th-century monk who opposed asceti-cism and denied the virginity of Mary.
- an excessive and proscribed veneration of the Virgin Mary. —Mariolater , n. —Mariolatrous , adj.
- 1. the body of belief and doctrine concerning the Virgin Mary.
- 2. the study of the Virgin Mary. —Mariologist , n.
Mary Bell order a court order prohibiting the publication of information which might lead to the identification of a ward of court, from the name of Mary Bell (1957– ), who in 1968 was convicted of the manslaughter of two younger children. Released from custody and living under another name, she gave birth to a daughter in 1984, and in order to protect the child's anonymity, the High Court made an order forbidding public identification of Mary Bell or her whereabouts.
Mary Celeste an American brig that was found in the North Atlantic in December 1872 in perfect condition but abandoned. The fate of the crew and the reason for the abandonment of the ship remain a mystery. She is sometimes referred to incorrectly as the Marie Celeste.
Mary Rose a heavily armed ship, built for Henry VIII, that in 1545 sank with the loss of nearly all her company when going out to engage the French fleet off Portsmouth. The hull, with some of the ship's contents, was raised in 1982, and is now on public display in Portsmouth dockyard.