The Person of Mary: Femininity ( a woman ) ©

The charts below are direct quotes from Post-Vatican II Magisterial Documents concerning the theme, Mary's Femininity. 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
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Documents V. The Person of Mary / 4. Femininity ( a woman )
Lumen Gentium, 1964
  • born of a woman (Gal 4:4) 52
  • the figure of a woman, Mother of the Redeemer, into a gradually clearer light (development of doctrine) 55
  • a woman should contribute to life [woman shared in bringing death] 56
Behold Your Mother (USA), 1973
  • "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
  • "Just as a woman contributed to death, so also a woman should contribute to life." (LG 56) 18
  • Salvation comes through Mary's flesh, through Mary's faith. 27
  • In ... John, ... Cana and Calvary, the beginning and the end of her Son's public life. Both times Jesus addresses her as "woman." 34
  • When Mary conceived and gave birth to Jesus, human motherhood reached its greatest achievement. 131
  • The dignity which Christ's redemption won for all women was fulfilled uniquely in Mary as the model of all real feminine freedom. The Mother of Jesus is portrayed in the gospels as: intelligent (the Annunciation, "How can this be?"); apostolic (the visit to Elizabeth); inquiring and contemplative (the Child lost in the temple); responsive and creative (at Cana); compassionate and courageous (at Calvary); a woman of great faith. These implications in the lives of Jesus and Mary need to be elaborated into a sound theology on the role of Christian women in contemporary Church and society. [This text not subdivided in other areas.] 142
Marialis Cultus, 1974
  • The Church's reflection today on the mystery of Christ and on her own nature has led her to find at the root of the former and as a culmination of the latter the same figure of a woman: the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Christ and the Mother of the Church. And the increased knowledge of Mary's mission has become joyful veneration of her and adoring respect for the wise plan of God, who has placed within His family (the Church), as in every home, the figure of a Woman, who in a hidden manner and in a spirit of service watches over that family "and carefully looks after it until the glorious day of the Lord." (Votive Mass BVM, Preface) (In)
  • In contemplating Mary and her mission these different generations of Christians, looking on her as the New Woman and perfect Christian, found in her as a virgin, wife and mother the outstanding type of womanhood and the pre-eminent exemplar of life lived in accordance with the Gospels and summing up the most characteristic situations in the life of a woman. 36
  • Thus, the modern woman, anxious to participate with decision-making power in the affairs of the community, will contemplate with intimate joy Mary who, taken into dialogue with God, gives her active and responsible consent, (LG 56) not to the solution of a contingent problem, but to that "event of world importance," as the Incarnation of the Word has been rightly called." (Peter Chrysologus) 37
  • [other woman issues and values] 37
    - choice of the state of virginity [as consecration to God]
    - completely devoted to the will of God [but]
    - not a timidly submissive woman [and]
    - not one whose piety was repellent to others
    - a woman who did not hesitate to proclaim that God vindicates the humble and the oppressed, and removes the powerful people of this world from their privileged positions (cf. Lk. 1:51-53).
    - Modern woman will recognize in Mary, who "stands out among the poor and humble of the Lord (LG 55) a woman of strength, who experienced poverty and suffering, flight and exile." (cf. Mt. 2:13-23)
    - Mary will appear not as a Mother exclusively concerned with her own divine Son, but rather as a woman whose action helped to strengthen the apostolic community's faith in Christ (cf. Jn. 2:1-12),
    - and whose maternal role was extended and became universal on Calvary. (SM 1) 37
    as a poor and humble woman fully shared our lot. 56
Redemptoris Mater, 1987
  • born of woman, (Gal. 4:4-6) [start of ency intentionally same as LG 52] 1
  • "daughter of the human race," that extraordinary "woman" who became the Mother of Christ. (cf. GS 22) 4
  • a special place for the "woman" who is the Mother of him to whom the Father has entrusted the work of salvation. 7
  • (cf. Gen. 3:15). And so, there comes into the world a Son, "the seed of the woman" who will crush the evil of sin in its very origins: "he will crush the head of the serpent." 11
  • The "enmity," foretold at the beginning, is confirmed in the Apocalypse (the book of the final events of the Church and the world), in which there recurs the sign of the "woman," this time "clothed with the sun." (Rev. 12:1) 11
  • She responded, therefore, with all her human and feminine "I" 13
  • [addressed "woman" at Cana and Calvary ] this expression goes to the very heart of the mystery of Mary, and indicates the unique place which she occupies in the whole economy of salvation? 24
  • The figure of Mary of Nazareth sheds light on womanhood as such by the very fact that God, in the sublime event of the Incarnation of his Son, entrusted himself to the ministry, the free and active ministry of a woman. 46 [See C. Neumann, S.M., MS, 1988,162: availed; not entrusted]
  • It can thus be said that women, by looking to Mary, find in her the secret of living their femininity with dignity and of achieving their own true advancement. 46
  • In the light of Mary, the Church sees in the face of women the reflection of a beauty which mirrors the loftiest sentiments of which the human heart is capable:
    the self-offering totality of love;
    the strength that is capable of bearing the greatest sorrows;
    limitless fidelity and tireless devotion to work;
    the ability to combine penetrating intuition with words of support and encouragement. 46

    [Note: document started with "woman" and addresses this toward the end.] Thanks to this special bond linking the Mother of Christ with the Church, there is further clarified the mystery of that "woman" who, from the first chapters of the Book of Genesis until the Book of Revelation, accompanies the revelation of God's salvific plan for humanity. 47

The VM in Intellectual and Spiritual Formation, 1988
  • born of a woman...so that we might receive adoption as sons" (Gal 4:4-5) (LG 52) 6
Mulieris Dignitatem, 1988
  • Theme of letter [builds on opening paragraphs of both LG and RM]
  • Mary - the "woman" of the Bible (cf. Gen 3:15; Jn 2:4; 19:16) - intimately belongs to the salvific mystery of Christ, and is therefore also present in a special way in the mystery of the Church ... the special presence of the Mother of God in the mystery of the Church makes us think of the exceptional link between this "woman" and the whole human family. 1
  • Do we not need to find a special place for the "woman"? 2
  • born of a woman (Gal 4:4) 3
  • It is significant that St. Paul ... calls her "woman": this coincides with the words of the Proto-evangelium and the Book of Genesis (cf. 3:15). She is that "woman" who is present in the central salvific event which marks the "fullness of time": this event is realized in her and through her. 3
  • The sending of this Son ... "born of woman," constitutes the culminating and definitive point of God's self-revelation to humanity. ... A woman is to be found at the center of this salvific event. 3
  • The "woman" is the representative and the archetype of the whole human race .... [because of union with God in Jesus Christ] 4
  • she represents the humanity which belongs to all human beings [but also] a form of union ... which can only belong to the "woman," Mary: the Union between mother and son. 4
  • Through her response of faith Mary exercises her free will and thus fully shares with her personal and feminine "I" in the event of the Incarnation. 4
  • [dignity of serving, fashioned on Christ who came to serve] Mary, the woman of the Bible, is the most complete expression of this dignity and vocation. For no human being, male or female, created in the image and likeness of God, can in any way attain fulfillment apart from this image and likeness. 5
  • ...about motherhood, and about virginity, as two particular dimensions of the vocation of women in the light of divine Revelation. These two dimensions will find their loftiest expression at the "fullness of time" (cf. Gal 4:4) in the "woman" of Nazareth: the Virgin-Mother. 7
  • The Covenant [in the redeeming blood of Christ] begins with a woman, the "woman" of the Annunciation at Nazareth. ... In the OT ... God addressed himself to women ... However, to make his Covenant with humanity, he addressed himself only to men ... At the beginning of the New Covenant, which is to be eternal and irrevocable, there is woman: the Virgin of Nazareth. It is a sign ... "in Jesus Christ" "there is neither male nor female." (Gal 3:28) 11
  • virginity and motherhood ... two particular dimensions of the fulfillment of the female personality ... acquire their full meaning and value in Mary, who as a Virgin became the Mother of the Son of God. These two dimensions of the female vocation are united in her in an exceptional manner, in such a way that one did not exclude the other but wonderfully complemented it. 17
  • ... firm in her resolve to preserve her virginity 17
  • The person of the Mother of God helps everyone - especially women - see how these two dimensions [virginity and motherhood], these two paths in the vocation of women as persons, explain and complete each other. 17
  • Mary's words at the Annunciation - "Let it be to me according to your word" - signify the woman's readiness for the gift of self and her readiness to accept a new life. 18
  • ... unless one looks to the Mother of God ... impossible to understand the mystery of the Church ... The Bible convinces us of the fact that one can have no adequate hermeneutic of man, or of what is "human," without appropriate reference to what is "feminine." ... we cannot omit, in the perspective of our faith, the mystery of "woman": virgin-mother-spouse. 22
Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 1994
  • "When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman." (Gal 4:4) The fullness of time coincides with the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word, of the Son who is of one being with the Father, and with the mystery of the Redemption of the world. 1
  • In this passage, Saint Paul emphasizes that the Son of God was born of woman, born under the Law, and came into the world in order to redeem all who were under the Law. So that they might receive adoption as sons and daughters. 1
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994
Fidei Depositum, 1992

726 At the end of this mission of the Spirit, Mary became the Woman, the new Eve ("mother of the living"), the mother of the "whole Christ." (cf.. Jn 19:25-27) As such, she was present with the Twelve, who "with one accord devoted themselves to prayer," (Acts 1:14) at the dawn of the "end time" which the Spirit was to inaugurate on the morning of Pentecost with the manifestation of the Church.

Vita Consecrata, 1996
  • The Church as Bride ... This spousal dimension, which is part of all consecrated life, has a particular meaning for women, who find therein their feminine identity and as it were discover the special genius of their relationship with the Lord. 34
  • As moving sign of this is seen in the New Testament passage which portrays Mary with the apostles in the Upper Room, in prayerful expectation of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:13-14). We can see here a vivid image of the church as bride, fully attentive to her bridegroom and ready to accept his gift. 34
  • In Peter and the other apostles there emerges above all the aspect of fruitfulness as it is expressed in ecclesial ministry, which becomes an instrument of the Spirit for bringing news sons and daughters to birth through the preaching of the word, the celebration of the sacraments and the giving of pastoral care. In Mary the aspect of spousal receptivity is particularly clear; it is under this aspect that the church through her perfect virginal life, brings divine life to fruition within herself. 34


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

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