Overview of Mary's Life


The little Virgin of Nazareth holds an exceptional place in God’s plan of salvation.  Her unique destiny in the history of humanity has been proclaimed since man’s beginnings, and her work continues until the end of time.

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The Earthly Life of the Virgin Mary

The life of the Virgin Mary is recounted by several sources: the Bible, the apocryphal gospels, and Sacred Tradition.

Her life occupies an exceptional place in the history of man’s salvation.

The Virgin Mary in Salvation History

In the Bible, Mary had already been associated with Jesus in the prophecies of the Old Testament.  Then, at the moment of the “fullness of time”, her “yes” allowed the Incarnation of God in the flesh of men, at Nazareth (this event is related by the Gospel accounts of the Annunciation).

Father Rene Laurentin writes, “Mary belongs to three phases of salvation history: to the time which precedes Christ, to the period of His earthly life, and to the time after Christ.”

The mystery of Mary Mother of God and of the Church

After having carried Jesus for nine months in her womb, Mary accompanied our Redeemer daily during the thirty years of His hidden life and the three years of His public ministry.  Thus, she experienced and accompanied Him in all the events of the salvation which Jesus brought to the world.  She was then the support of the infant Church.  Finally, after being assumed body and soul into Heaven, she remains today the support of Christ’s Church, and of all men, until the end of history.

In the encyclical Redemptor Hominis (1979), Saint Pope John Paul II describes the mystery of Mary’s maternity:

“We can say that the mystery of the Redemption took shape beneath the heart of the Virgin of Nazareth when she pronounced her "fiat". From then on, under the special influence of the Holy Spirit, this heart, the heart of both a virgin and a mother, has always followed the work of her Son and has gone out to all those whom Christ has embraced and continues to embrace with inexhaustible love. For that reason her heart must also have the inexhaustibility of a mother. The special characteristic of the motherly love that the Mother of God inserts in the mystery of the Redemption and the life of the Church finds expression in its exceptional closeness to man and all that happens to him. It is in this that the mystery of the Mother consists. The Church, which looks to her with altogether special love and hope, wishes to make this mystery her own in an ever deeper manner. For in this the Church also recognizes the way for her daily life, which is each person.” (ch. 22)

The Virgin Mary in the Thought of God

Finally, if “Jesus Christ is the center of the universe and of history” (John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis, 1979, ch. 1), the Blessed Virgin who gives Him to the world without ceasing is accordingly also from all eternity in the Thought of God.

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To know more

To find out more, see Mary in Scripture

To find out more, see the encyclical "Redemptor Hominis"

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Organisation of the section

This topic is organized chronologically from the perspective of salvation history. The first section presents the theological teaching concerning the life of the Virgin Mary: she is from all eternity part of God's plan of salvation.

The second section highlights the way in which the Virgin Mary is foretold in the Old Testament.  This section is called “The Path to Mary”.

Finally, the third section presents the life of the Virgin Mary before the birth of Christ, during Christ’s earthly life, and after Pentecost until the end of time.  For each event of Mary’s life, the section presents the sources of our knowledge, which range from the Gospels and the apocryphal gospels to the revelations of the mystics and texts offering a theological reflection on these events.