Q: Is "Mother of Jesus" a correct Marian title?

I have always believed that the title "Mother of Jesus" is an officially recognized title of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Catholic Church. However, a Catholic priest writing apologetics in the 1920s [Conway's Question Box?] seemed to suggest that the Catholic Church avoids or even rejects the use of the title "Mother of Jesus" for Mary and only accepts the designation "Mother of God." I have always believed that both titles are completely acceptable in the Catholic Church, and complement each other.

Was Rev. Conway writing at a time when it was considered "too Protestant" to refer to Mary as "Mother of Jesus"? Perhaps, the question to which he responded was phrased one-sidedly? Do you agree with me that Rev. Conway should have made clear that both titles are legitimate and in no way contradictory?

A: Titles of Mary are very numerous. We have on our website a list of nearly six-thousand of them. They are not all of the same theological quality, and thus, not of the same ecclesial authority. Many of them have geographical connotations. Even more of them have a spiritual foundation highlighting intercessory needs of those addressing themselves to Mary. They may also reflect the special kind of help received from her. For example, Mary may be invoked as the Mother of Good Counsel.

The example mentioned in your question is of the highest theological importance. It deals with the very nature of her motherhood, and also with the very identity of Jesus Christ. When speaking theologically of the son of Mary, we should use his full name which is Jesus Christ. Although this is not generally and consciously realized, there is a certain tendency of sending a theological signal by either saying "Jesus Christ" or simply "Jesus."

The latter is used to pinpoint his humanity, suggesting for some theologians and writers that Jesus is only human. In turn, "Christ" refers to his divine origin and nature. The full name of our Lord and Redeemer is Jesus Christ. This combined name states the presence of the two natures, divine and human, in the person of Jesus Christ.

It should also be used when speaking of Mary. She is the mother of Jesus Christ, the theotokos or godbearer, not only just the mother of Jesus. True, she is not the mother of god, in the sense of mother-goddess. As Pope Benedict XVI says: "But she was (the mother of God) in the sense of having been the mother of that man who is entirely at one with God." Mary conceives and brings forth, in his human nature, One who is God from all eternity.

Rev. Conway may have had this in mind, precisely. He wanted to make sure that the full theological content of Mary's motherhood was expressed. Calling it a title, he wanted to contrast it with a very common designation, mother of Jesus, for the sake of pointing out the theological incompleteness of the shorter formula.


Return to Your Questions

Return to The Mary Page

This page, maintained by The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute, Dayton, Ohio 45469-1390, and created by Johann G. Roten , was last modified Friday, 10/17/2008 14:36:35 EDT by Michael P. Duricy . Please send any comments to jroten1@udayton.edu.