Holy Mary In the First Centuries of Christianity

By Bishop Elías Samuel Bolaños, SDB.

We do not have much news or information about the Virgin Mary in the first centuries of Christianity. The book of the Acts of the Apostles, written by Saint Luke, according to biblical scholars, mentions the Blessed Virgin: “they always met to pray with some women, with Mary, the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers” (1, 14).

Then, this book follows in detail the life of the Apostle Peter and then the Apostle Paul.

That is how we would have liked to have a story about Mary written, but we do not have it.

There is an oral tradition: the Virgin went to live with John and since John was in the city of Ephesus, there is a tradition that there is a house of Mary in that city.

There is also talk about John’s staying on the island of Patmos, here the tradition also speaks about Mary’s presence there.

Of course, the evangelists of Jesus’ childhood are Saint Matthew and Saint Luke, who according to studies wrote their Gospel between the 60s and 80s AD.

When referring to the Virgin, they offer us some information about her at Jesus’ time.

When the beautiful Basilica of the Annunciation was going to be erected in the city of Nazareth, the location of Mary’s house was studied very meticulously, and on the walls near her house, the first salutation to Mary was found, as the Mother of God, and when studying that phrase, it came to be dated in the year 100 AD. From then, the first manifestation of devotion to the Blessed Virgin was made.

As we know, the bricks that made up the house of Mary where she received the greeting of the Angel, were moved from Nazareth to the Italian city of Loreto, where the crusaders made again the house of Mary.

Near where those bricks were removed from the house of the Virgin, the first letter was found with a greeting to the Blessed Mary.

The temple of the Dormition or Transit of the Blessed Virgin has two locations: Ephesus, where the apostle John lived, and Jerusalem. Why two places? Ephesus would be the place where John ended his days, and therefore Mary. Jerusalem, because it is the biblical city, it is also the city of religions.

There is the memory of the Passion of Jesus, that is why it came quickly. According to this tradition, Mary could not finish her days somewhere else but in the most religiously important city: it is a Jewish pride that the Virgin finished her days there.

After these traits in the first centuries, it seems that we stop talking about Mary. However, we remember that the persecution was hardly over, and the Bishops were able to meet.

One of the first issues that the bishops faced in the Councils was the condition of Jesus, and consequently, Mary.

What did they think of Mary? And so we have the Council of Constantinople, which proclaimed to Mary the TEOTHOCOS, the Mother of God, making the People of God, Christians, initiate that deeply profound and felt veneration of the Blessed Virgin.

This devotion will have as its culminating point, the construction of the Temple in honor of the Blessed Virgin in Rome, called SANTA MARIA LA MAGGIORE, where the manger was carried where Mary placed her son Jesus in Bethlehem. In that mayor temple or Basilica, this nativity scene is venerated.

With this temple to the Blessed Virgin, from that construction, there will be many temples in Mary’ honor, and her devotion will spread throughout all countries.

(Pope Francis visits this temple, the first one in Mary’s honor, in each of his trips; both when he arrives and when he departs).

Throughout the centuries the various invocations to the Blessed Virgin Mary will be emerging, according to the devotion that will be inculcated by the saints, the founders of Orders, and the simple Christian people.

In the ancient churches, we can glimpse this devotion to the Virgin, which will take root with the passage of time.

We have to accept that the recognition and veneration of the importance and greatness of Mary, in the Christian people, began from the first century of Christianity, when they went to visit the little house where she received the announcement of the Angel... May we also continue to venerate and demonstrate our filial veneration to the Blessed Virgin.

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