Mariology: Wikis


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Mariology is the theological study of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mariology methodically presents teachings about her to other parts of the faith, such as teachings about Jesus, redemption and grace. Christian Mariology aims to connect scripture, tradition and the teachings of the Church on Mary.

There exist a variety of Christian views on Mary ranging from the focus on Marian veneration in Roman Catholic Mariology to Protestant objections, with Anglican Marian theology in between. As a field of theology, in recent centuries the most substantial developments in Mariology (and the founding of specific centers devoted to its study) have taken place within Roman Catholic Mariology. Eastern Orthodox concepts of Mary have been mostly expressed in liturgy and are not subject to a central dogmatic teaching office.

A significant number of Marian publications were written in the 20th century, with theologists Raimondo Spiazzi and Gabriel Roschini achieving 2500 and 900 publications respectively. In terms of popular following, membership in Roman Catholic Marian Movements and Societies has grown significantly. Ecumenical differences continue to exist in substance and style but are more easily understood because of the existence of Mariology.


Diversity of Marian views

Key articles on
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General perspective
Mother of Jesus
Blessed Virgin

Specific views
AnglicanEastern OrthodoxMarian venerationMuslimProtestant
Roman Catholic

Key prayers & devotions

AngelusHail MaryRosary

Ecumenical views

A wide range of views on Mary exist at multiple levels of differentiation within distinct Christian belief systems. In many cases, the views held at any point in history have continued to be challenged and transformed. Over the centuries, Roman Catholic Mariology has been shaped by varying forces ranging from sensus fidelium to Marian apparitions to the writings of the saints to papal encyclicals.

Anglican Marian theology varies greatly, from the Anglo-Catholic (very close to Roman Catholic views) to the more typically Protestant Evangelical views. Eastern Orthodox theology calls Mary the Theotokos, emphasizing her status as the mother of God incarnate in Jesus, but not the mother of God from eternity.

Protestant views of Mary vary from denomination to denomination. They focus generally on interpretations of Mary in the Bible, the "Apostles' Creed", (which professes the Virgin Birth), and the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus, in 431, which called Mary the Mother of God. While some early Protestants created Marian art and allowed limited forms of Marian veneration,[1] Protestants today do not share the veneration of Mary practiced by Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox. Martin Luther's views on Mary, John Calvin's views on Mary, Karl Barth's views on Mary and others have all contributed to modern Protestant views.

A better mutual understanding among different Christian groups regarding their Mariology has been sought in a number of ecumenical meetings which produced common documents.

Outside Christianity, the Islamic view of the Virgin Mary, known as Maryam in Arabic, is that she was an extremely pious and chaste woman who miraculously gave birth while still a virgin to the prophet Jesus, known in Arabic as Isa. Mary is the only woman specifically named in the Qur'an. The nineteenth chapter of the Qur'an, which is named after her, begins with two narrations of "miraculous birth", although she is not considered divine by Muslims.

Mariology as a theological discipline

Within Anglican Marian theology the Blessed Virgin Mary holds a place of honour. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, a number of traditions revolve around the Ever-Virgin Mary and the Theotokos, which are theologically paramount.

Yet, as an active theological discipline, Mariology has received the larger amount of formal attention in Roman Catholic Mariology based on four dogmas on Mary which are a part of Roman Catholic theology. The Second Vatican Council document Lumen Gentium summarized the views on Roman Catholic Mariology, the focus being on the veneration of the Mother of God. Over time, Roman Catholic Mariology also received some input from Liberation Theology, which emphasized popular Marian piety, and more recently from feminist theology, which stressed both the dignity of women and gender differences.

While systematic Marian theology is not new, Pope Pius XII is credited with promoting the independent theological study of Mary on a large scale with the creation or elevation of four papal Mariological research centres, e.g. the Marianum.[2] The papal institutes were created to foster Mariological research and to explain and support the Roman Catholic veneration of Mary. This new orientation was continued by Popes John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul II with the additional creation of Pontifica Academia Mariana Internationale and Centro di Cultura Mariana, a pastoral center to promulgate Marian teachings of the Church, and, Societa Mariologica Italiana, an Italian mariological society with interdisciplinary orientation.


Maximalism versus minimalism

Mariology is a field of theology in which deeply felt pious beliefs of the faithful and hagiography may conflict critical historical reviews of beliefs and practices, and scientific analysis. This conflict was recognized early on. Around the year 1300, William of Ware described the tendency of believers to attribute almost everything to Mary.[3] Bonaventura warned against Marian maximalism. “One has to be careful as to not to minimize the honour of our Lord, Jesus Christ.” [4] In the 20th century, Pope Pius XII, "the most Marian Pope in Church history”[5] warned nevertheless against both exuberant exaggerations and timid minimalism in the presentation of Mary. [6]

Mariological methodology

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A series of articles on
Roman Catholic
Virgin Mary - Diego Velazquez.jpg

General articles
Overview of MariologyVeneration of the Blessed VirginHistory of MariologyMariology of the saintsMariology of the popesEncyclicals & Apostolic LettersMarian Movements & Societies

RosaryScapularImmaculate HeartSeven JoysSeven SorrowsFirst SaturdaysActs of Reparation

Dogmas and Doctrines

Mother of GodPerpetual virginityImmaculate ConceptionAssumptionMother of the ChurchMediatrixCo-Redemptrix

Expressions of devotion

Key Marian apparitions
(approved or worthy of belief)
GuadalupeMiraculous Medal
La SaletteLourdesPontmainLausBanneuxBeauraingFátimaAkita

As a field of study, Mariology uses the sources, methods and criteria of theology, going back to official Marian pronouncements beginning with the Apostles' Creed. In Mariology the question of scriptural basis is more accentuated.[7] In Roman Catholic Mariology, the overall context of Catholic doctrines and other Church teachings are also taken into account. The Marian Chapter of the document Lumen Gentium of Vatican II includes twenty-six biblical references. They refer to the conception, birth and childhood of Jesus, Mary’s role in several events and under the cross. Of importance to Mariological methodology is a specific Vatican II statement that these reports are not allegories with symbolic value but historical revelations, a point further emphasized by Pope Benedict XVI.[8]

Organization of Mariology

The presentation of Mariology differs among theologians. Some prefer to present its historical development, while others divide Mariology by its content (dogmas, grace, role in redemption, etc.). Some theologians prefer to present Mariology only in terms of Mary's attributes (honour, titles, privileges), while others attempt to integrate Mary into their overall theology and into the salvation mystery of Jesus Christ.[9]

Some prominent theologians, such as Karl Barth and Karl Rahner in the 20th century, viewed Mariology only as a part of Christology. But differences exist even within families, e.g. Hugo Rahner, the brother of Karl Rahner, disagreed and developed a Mariology based on the writers of the early Church, such as Ambrose of Milan, Augustine of Hippo, and others.[10] He viewed Mary as the mother and model for the Church, a view later highlighted by Popes Paul VI through Benedict XVI.[11] The Wikipedia articles (listed in the template on the right) use a mainly historical approach.

Relation to other theological disciplines

Mariology and Christology

While Christology has been the subject of detailed study, some Marian views, in particular in Roman Catholic Mariology, see it as an essential basis for the study of Mary. Generally, Protestant denominations do not agree with this approach.

The concept that by being the “Mother of God”, Mary has a unique role in salvation and redemption was contemplated and written about in the early Church.[12] In recent centuries, Roman Catholic Mariology has come to be viewed as a logical and necessary consequence of Christology: Mary contributes to a fuller understanding of who Christ is and what he did. In these views, Mariology can be derived from the Christocentric mysteries of Incarnation: Jesus and Mary are son and mother, redeemer and redeemed.[13][14][15]

Biblical research

Mariology participates in and benefits from biblical research, employing historical text-critical analysis and other methods employed by biblical scholarship. Like all scriptures, biblical statements on Mary were not only part of divine revelation, but were written in a historic and socio-cultural context, which require explanation. Of special importance in this context is the application of biblical hermeneutics (the analysis of synonym words for a better understanding of their meaning). Hermeneutics assists in the analysis of the relation between biblical statements on Mary, the faith of the early Christians and the Marian tradition of the Church. Because of the mother-son relation, the historical research into the life of Jesus is of obvious interest to Mariology.[16]

Church history

Within the field of Church history, Mariology is concerned with the development of Marian teachings and the various forms of Marian culture. An important part of Church history is patristics or patrology, the teaching of the early Fathers of the Church. They give indications of the faith of the early Church and are analyzed in terms of their statements on Mary.

In the Roman Catholic context, patrology and dogmatic history have at times provided a basis for popes to justify Marian belief, veneration, and dogmas such as the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption. Thus, in Fulgens Corona and Munificentissimus Deus, Pope Pius XII explained the two dogmas in terms of existing biblical references to Mary, the patristic tradition, and the strong historical faith of believers (sensus fidelium). He employed a deductive theological method.[17]

Moral theology

Some scholars do not see a direct relation of Mariology to Moral Theology. However, in the words of Pius X, as Mary is viewed as the model of virtue, virginity, and a life free of sin, her life exemplifies many moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. It is used in that way in pastoral theology and homiletics (sermons). Moral theology includes teachings on mysticism, to which Marian spirituality relates. Marian charisma, Marian apparitions and other private revelations are also subject to Catholic teachings on revelation, mysticism and canon law.


  • Konrad Algermissen, Lexikon der Marienkunde, Regensburg, 1967 (Roman Catholic mariological Encyclopedia)
  • Remigius Bäumer, Marienlexikon, Eos, St. Ottilien, 1992 (Roman Catholic mariological Encyclopedia)
  • W Beinert, Lexikon der katholischen Dogmatik, Herder Freiburg, 1988 (Roman Catholic theological Encyclopedia)
  • Heinrich Kihn Encyklopaedie und Methodologie der Theologie, Freiburg, Herder, 1892(Roman Catholic theological Encyclopedia)
  • Joseph Ratzinger Introduction to Christianity, 1968 (Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI)


  1. ^ "Protestantische Marien Kunst", in Bäumer, Marienlexikon, V, pp 325-336, Marian veneration in Protestantismus, pp 336-342
  2. ^ Academia Mariana Salesiana, 1950, Centro Mariano Monfortano to Rome, 1950, Pontifical University Marianum, 1950, and Collegiamento Mariano Nationale, 1958
  3. ^ C Balic, "The Marian rules of Dun Scotus", Euntes Docete, 9, 1956, 110
  4. ^ Bonaventura, Opera VI, 497
  5. ^ Bäumer, Kirchenlexikon', Pius XII
  6. ^ Encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam
  7. ^ Kihn, 63
  8. ^ Joseph Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity, 1968, in the original German version, p. 230
  9. ^ "Mariologie", in Bäumer, Lexikon der Marienkunde
  10. ^ Maria und die Kirche, Tyrolia-Verlag, 1961 (English Translation: Our Lady and the Church, Zaccheus Press, 2004)
  11. ^ Hugo Rahner in Bäumer, Lexikon der Marienkunde
  12. ^ Lexikon der kath., "Dogmatik, Mariologie", 1988
  13. ^ Saint Louis de Montfort,God Alone
  14. ^ Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, 51
  15. ^ Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis Christi; John Henry Newman: Mariology is always christocentric, in Michael Testa, Mary: The Virgin Mary in the Life and Writings of John Henry Newman, 2001
  16. ^ H Kihn, Encyclopedie fer theologie, 1892, 102
  17. ^ Lexikon der kath. Dogmatik, Mariologie, 1988

See also

Pontifical Marian International Academy

Mariology of the popes


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