Q: Why does Mary have so many different titles?

A: Mary has so many different titles for a variety of reasons.

1) Because of the paradoxical nature of her person: She is the servant of the Lord and a non-descript Jewish girl, yet, at the same time, called and invested with the grandeur of being the mother of the God-made-man. Paradoxical means it is difficult to speak of her in an uni-dimensional fashion. Mary's characteristics, whichever mentioned, always require a complement in order to do justice to the whole picture. This gives rise to many titles.

2) Because she is a person and not a system of thoughts. As individuals we are ineffable, meaning nobody - except God - has the last word on who we are and may become. The description of a living human person - one's inner life especially - is inexhaustible. This applies to Mary in a preeminent way, not least because of what is said in # 1 above. The best way to speak about a person is symbolic language. This leads to a multitude of images attempting to capture Mary's personality.

3) There is a third reason which deals with Mary's intercessory role. Mary's role as mother and her intimacy with her Son made her a powerful intercessor throughout Christian history. Since human needs are countless, as numerous as the varied situations and expectations of human life, Mary's help was and is sought for all of them. This led to the formulation of many of her titles ( good counsel, good death, help of the sick, mother of the "domestic church," etc).

4) Many titles are due to geographic and cultural reasons. There were times when not only every country but also every little village wanted to have their own lady chapel or lady image. This led again to a multiplication of titles.

5) Titles related to apparitions are still another category, but quite frequently they are connected to # 3 above. Apparitions are often accompanied with healing and conversion. This makes it even more plausible to coin a specific title as is the case for major sites like Lourdes and Fatima.


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