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Catholic Doctrine

Mary occupies a unique and honored position as the mother of Jesus. She is the “Mother of God”, because Jesus Christ is the “Son of God made man, who is God himself” (Catechism 509).

From the moment of her conception, Mary was kept free from original sin in what is known as the Immaculate Conception. She remained free from personal sin throughout her mortal life—earning her the right to be referred to as “Full of Grace.”

When the angel Gabriel told her of her mission, Mary through her faith and obedience fully cooperated, becoming the new Eve—mother of the living.

Saint Augustine wrote that Mary "remained a virgin in conceiving her Son, a virgin in giving birth to him, a virgin in carrying him, a virgin in nursing him at her breast, always a virgin" (St. Augustine, Serm. 186, 1: PL 38, 999). Mary is referred to and honored as “ever-virgin” and the "Seat of Wisdom."

Upon her death Mary was taken up into heaven (referred to as the Assumption), where she shares the glory of Christ’s Resurrection, while awaiting the Resurrection of all mankind in Christ and advocating for them in her maternal role.

The modern Catholic Church is passionately devoted to Mary and shows her great veneration, understanding that veneration is different from adoration and worship which are reserved only for God. A common misconception is that the Catholics pray to Mary. This is not true from a doctrinal perspective, but can easily be misconstrued from the passion many Catholics have for Mary: “Because of Mary's singular cooperation with the action of the Holy Spirit, the Church loves to pray in communion with the Virgin Mary, to magnify with her the great things the Lord has done for her, and to entrust supplications and praises to her” (Catechism 2682).

The Catholic Church honors and recognizes Mary in a variety of ways throughout the year, showing regular devotion to her through liturgical feasts, the saying of the rosary, and the “Marian” celebrations.

See Catechism 508 to 511, 721, 971 to 975, 2162, 2682, and glossary.

Latter-day Saint Doctrine

The earliest scriptural reference to Mary can be found in Genesis, where the Lord speaks to the serpent in the Garden of Eden: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15).

The woman referred in this scripture is Mary, her seed being Jesus Christ who would come to bruise the head of the serpent. Many hundreds of years later, 700 years before the birth of Christ, Isaiah made reference to Mary saying: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14).

Little is known about Mary’s life before she spoke to the Angel Gabriel about the coming forth of Christ through her. The scriptures teach us that Mary was faithful in obeying the word of God, grateful for the blessings of the Lord, and wise in receiving counsel from God’s chosen servants. Mary being mortal, conceived Jesus Christ as a virgin, with the angel telling her beforehand, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Through this act God became the literal father of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only individual on earth to be born of a mortal Mother and an immortal Father, making him “the only begotten son of God.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accepts that Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ as a virgin. However, the Church does not accept the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, nor is it believed that Mary was “ever-virgin” or taken up into heaven to share in the glory of Christ’s Resurrection.

See chapter 12 in Catholic Roots, Mormon Harvest for a more comprehensive explanation and commentary on Mary.

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