The Person of Mary:
Historical Character (historical versus symbol)

The charts below are direct quotes from Post-Vatican II Magisterial Documents concerning the theme, Mary as Historical Character. These teachings of the Catholic Church may prove useful to include in talks, in homilies or for research. For the full title and document data, click on the abbreviation code (for example, BYM leads you to the document, Behold Your Mother). This will also lead you to the complete document on this website or assist you in locating it elsewhere.

For an index of the documents used in the study see: List of Magisterial Documents
Previous Theme Next Theme

Documents V. The Person of Mary / 1. Historical character (historical versus symbol)
Recurrens Mensis October, 1969
  • the humble Virgin of Nazareth 7
Basic Teaching for Catholic Education (USA), 1973
  • special place of the Virgin Mary in the history of salvation and in the church 24
Behold Your Mother (USA), 1973
  • Remembering the coming of the Son of God among us as the Son of Mary, in one of the earliest New Testament passages, St. Paul wrote: "When the designated time had come, God sent forth his Son born of a woman, born under the law." According to the plan of the Father of mercies this took place "that we might receive the adoption of sons." (Gal 4:4-5) 12
  • "Mary is today, even as at Ephesus, a witness to the Incarnation. She was then a pointer to the truly historical reality of Jesus Christ who is God. Today she must be seen as indicating the full implications of the Incarnation for our understanding of being human." (Donal Flanagan, "Mary in the Ecumenical Discussion," Irish Theological Quarterly XL, July 1973) 111
  • Mother of the Holy Family at Nazareth... [example to family life] 131
  • [sorrows but] also the joyous years at Nazareth 134
Marialis Cultus, 1974
  • This devotion takes into account the part she played at decisive moments in the history of the salvation which her Son accomplished. 56
Catechesi Tradendae, 1979
  • As He sat on her lap and later as He listened to her throughout the hidden life at Nazareth 73
  • she was the first in time 73
Dominum et Vivificantem, 1986
  • Both in Isaiah and in the whole of the Old Testament the personality of the Holy Spirit is completely hidden: in the revelation of the one God, as also in the foretelling of the future Messiah 17
  • Jesus Christ will make reference to this prediction contained in the words of Isaiah at the beginning of his messianic activity. This will happen in the same Nazareth where he had lived for thirty years in the house of Joseph the carpenter, with Mary, his Virgin Mother. 18
  • While it is through creation that God is he in whom we all "live and move and have our being," (Acts 17:28) in its turn the power of the Redemption endures and develops in the history of man and the world in a double "rhythm" as it were, the source of which is found in the Eternal Father. On the one hand there is the rhythm of the mission of the Son, who came into the world and was born of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit; and on the other hand there is also the rhythm of the mission of the Holy Spirit as he was revealed definitively by Christ 63
  • While it is an historical fact that the Church came forth from the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost, in a certain sense one can say that she has never left it. Spiritually the event of Pentecost does not belong only to the past: the Church is always in the Upper Room that she bears in her heart. The Church perseveres in prayer, like the Apostles together with Mary, the Mother of Christ, and with those who in Jerusalem were the first seed of the Christian community and who awaited in prayer the coming of the Holy Spirit. 66
  • In the time leading up to the third Millennium after Christ, while "the Spirit and the bride say to the Lord Jesus: Come!," this prayer of theirs is filled, as always, with an eschatological significance, which is also destined to give fullness of meaning to the celebration of the great Jubilee. It is a prayer concerned with the salvific destinies towards which the Holy Spirit by his action opens hearts throughout the history of man on earth. But at the same time this prayer is directed towards a precise moment of history which highlights the "fullness of time" marked by the year 2000. The Church wishes to prepare for this Jubilee in the Holy Spirit, just as the Virgin of Nazareth in whom the Lord was made flesh was prepared by the Holy Spirit. 66
Redemptoris Mater, 1987
  • from the time of her Immaculate Conception preceded the coming of the Savior, the rising of the "Sun of Justice" in the history of the human race. (Ineffabilis Deus) 3
  • Her presence in the midst of Israel - a presence so discreet as to pass almost unnoticed by the eyes of her contemporaries ... 3
  • we Christians who know that the providential plan of the Most Holy Trinity is the central reality of Revelation and of faith feel the need to emphasize the unique presence of the Mother of Christ in history. 3
  • [Mary, a concrete part of the history of salvation] a great historical process, comparable "to a journey." ... within which the Blessed Virgin Mary continues to "go before" the People of God 6
  • [Annunciation] takes place at Nazareth, within the concrete circumstances of the history of Israel, the people which first received God's promises. 8
The VM in Intellectual and Spiritual Formation, 1988
  • [necessity] of drawing out the relevance of the human reality of the Virgin to people in our own time, stressing the fact that she is an historical person, a human Jewish girl 15
Mulieris Dignitatem, 1988
  • think of this [Incarnation] even in the setting of the history of Israel, the Chosen People of which Mary is a daughter ... 3
Redemptoris Custos, St. Joseph, 1989
  • Joseph is visited by the messenger as "Mary's spouse," as the one who in due time must give this name to the Son to be born of the Virgin of Nazareth who is married to him. 3
Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 1994
  • the unassuming Young Woman of Nazareth , who two thousand years ago 59
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994
Fidei Depositum, 1992
423 We believe and confess that Jesus of Nazareth, born a Jew of a daughter of Israel at Bethlehem ...
Novo Millennio Ineunte, 2001
  • Christianity is a religion rooted in history! It was in the soil of history that God chose to establish a covenant with Israel and so prepare the birth of the Son from the womb of Mary "in the fullness of time." (Gal 4:4) 5

© This material has been compiled by M. Jean Frisk.
Copyright is reserved for The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute.

Return to the top of this document

Return to the Resources/Documents: List of Themes

Return to The Mary Page


This page, maintained by The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute, Dayton, Ohio 45469-1390, and created by M. Jean Frisk , was last modified Thursday, 09/09/2010 12:56:37 EDT by Kelly Bodner . Please send any comments to

URL for this page is