"Though still a virgin she carried a child in her womb, and the handmaid and work of his wisdom became the Mother of God." St. Ephraim of
"There is One Physician who is possessed of both flesh and spirit....both of Mary and of God." St. Ignatius of
“For who would not rejoice to behold and to address her who bore the true God from her own womb, provided he is a friend of our faith and religion?” St. Ignatius of
"[Jesus] became man by the Virgin so that the course which was taken by disobedience in the beginning through the agency of the serpent might be also the very course by which it would be put down. Eve, a virgin and undefiled, conceived the word of the serpent and bore disobedience and death. But the Virgin Mary received faith and joy when the angel Gabriel announced to her the glad tidings that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon her and the power of the Most High would overshadow her, for which reason the Holy One being born of her is the Son of God. And she replied 'Be it done unto me according to your word' [Luke 1:38]."
"Those Gnostics, therefore, who allege that He took nothing from the Virgin do greatly err.... For why did He come down into Mary if He were to take nothing of her?" St. Irenaeus, "Against All Heresies," c. 180 A.D.
"And thus also it was that the knot of Eve's disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the Virgin Mary set free through faith." St. Irenaeus, "Against All Heresies," c. 180 A.D.
"I have proved already that it is the same thing to say that he merely seemed to appear and to assert that He received nothing from Mary." St. Irenaeus, "Against All Heresies," c. 180 A.D.
"That the Lord then was manifestly coming to His own things, and was sustaining them by means of that creation which is supported by Himself, and was making a recapitulation of that disobedience which had occurred in connection with a tree, through the obedience which was [exhibited by Himself when He hung] upon a tree, [the effects] also of that deception being done away with, by which that virgin Eve, who was already espoused to a man, was unhappily misled,--was happily announced, through means of the truth [spoken] by the angel to the Virgin Mary, who was [also espoused] to a man. For just as the former was led astray by the word of an angel, so that she fled from God when she had transgressed His word; so did the latter, by an angelic communication, receive the glad tidings that she should sustain (portaret) God, being obedient to His word. And if the former did disobey God, yet the latter was persuaded to be obedient to God, in order that the Virgin Mary might become the patroness (advocata) of the virgin Eve. And thus, as the human race fell into bondage to death by means of a virgin, so is it rescued by a virgin; virginal disobedience having been balanced in the opposite scale by virginal obedience. For in the same way the sin of the first created man (protoplasti) receives amendment by the correction of the First-begotten, and the coming of the serpent is conquered by the harmlessness of the dove, those bonds being unloosed by which we had been fast bound to death." St. Irenaeus, "Against All Heresies," c. 180 A.D.
"[T]o all generations they [the prophets] have pictured forth the grandest subjects for contemplation and for action. Thus, too, they preached of the advent of God in the flesh to the world, His advent by the spotless and God-bearing (theotokos) Mary in the way of birth and growth, and the manner of His life and conversation with men, and His manifestation by baptism, and the new birth that was to be to all men, and the regeneration by the laver [of baptism]." St. Hippolytus, "Discourse on the End of the World," c. 217 A.D.
"For Luke, in the inspired Gospel narratives, delivers a testimony not to Joseph only, but also to Mary, the Mother of God, and gives this account with reference to the very family and house of David." St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, "Four Homilies," c. 262 A.D.
"It is our duty to present to God, like sacrifices, all the festivals and hymnal celebrations; and first of all, [the feast of] The Annunciation to the holy Mother of God, to wit, the salutation made to her by the angel, 'Hail, full of grace!'" St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, "Four Homilies," c. 278 A.D.
"[T]hey [those engaged in the public transport service] came to the church of the most blessed Mother of God, and Ever-Virgin Mary, which, as we began to say, he had constructed in the western quarter, in a suburb, for a cemetery of the martyrs." St. Peter of
"Hail to thee for ever, you virgin Mother of God, our unceasing joy, for unto thee do I again return. . . . Hail, you fount of the Son's love for man. . . . Wherefore, we pray thee, the most excellent among women, who boasts in the confidence of your maternal honors, that you would unceasingly keep us in remembrance. O holy Mother of God, remember us, I say, who make our boast in thee, and who in hymns august celebrate the memory, which will ever live, and never fade away" St. Methodius, "Oration on Simeon and Anna," c. 305 A.D.
"Our Lord Jesus Christ in very deed (and not merely in appearance) carried a body, which was of Mary, the God-bearer." St. Alexander of
"If they [the brethren of the Lord] had been Mary's sons and not those taken from Joseph's former marriage, she would never have been given over in the moment of the Passion [Crucifixion] to the apostle John as his mother, the Lord saying to each, 'Woman, behold your son,' and to John, 'Behold your mother' [John 19:26-27), as he bequeathed filial love to a disciple as a consolation to the one desolate." St. Hilary of
"Let those, therefore, who deny that the Son is by nature from the Father and proper to his essence deny also that he took true human flesh from the ever-virgin Mary." St. Athanasius, "Discourses Against the Arians," c. 360 A.D.
"You alone and your Mother are more beautiful than any others, for there is no blemish in you nor any stains upon your Mother. Who of my children can compare in beauty to these?" St. Ephraim of
"The Word begotten of the Father from on high, inexpressibly, inexplicably, incomprehensibly, and eternally, is he that is born in time here below of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God." St. Athanasius, "The Incarnation of the Word of God," c. 365 A.D.
"We believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of all things, both visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God . . . who for us men and for our salvation came down and took flesh, that is, was born perfectly of the holy ever-virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit. Being perfect at the side of the Father and incarnate among us, not in appearance but in truth, He [the Son] reshaped man to perfection in Himself from Mary the Mother of God through the Holy Spirit." St. Epiphanius of
"And to holy Mary, [the title] 'Virgin' is invariably added, for that holy woman remains undefiled." St. Epiphanius of
"The first thing which kindles ardor in learning is the greatness of the teacher. What is greater than the Mother of God? What more glorious than she whom Glory Itself chose?" St. Ambrose, "The Virgins," c. 377 A.D.
"If anyone does not agree that Holy Mary is Mother of God, he is at odds with the Godhead." St. Gregory Nazianzus ("Letter to Cledonius the Priest," c. 382 A.D.)
"Come, then, and search out your sheep, not through your servants or hired men, but do it yourself. Lift me up bodily and in the flesh, which is fallen in Adam. Lift me up not from Sara but from Mary, a virgin not only undefiled but a virgin whom grace had made inviolate, free of every stain of sin." St. Ambrose, "Commentary on Psalm 118," c. 387 A.D.
"Imitate her [Mary], holy mothers, who in her only dearly beloved Son set forth so great an example of material virtue; for neither have you sweeter children [than Jesus], nor did the Virgin seek the consolation of being able to bear another son." St. Ambrose, "Letter 63," c. 388 A.D.
"You had good reason to be horrified at the thought that another birth might issue from the same virginal womb from which Christ was born according to the flesh. For the Lord Jesus would never have chosen to be born of a virgin if he had ever judged that she would be so incontinent as to contaminate with the seed of human intercourse the birthplace of the Lord's body, that court of the eternal king." Pope St. Siricius, "Letter to Bishop Anysius," c. 392 A.D.
"In being born of a Virgin who chose to remain a Virgin even before she knew who was to be born of her, Christ wanted to approve virginity rather than to impose it. And he wanted virginity to be of free choice even in that woman in whom he took upon himself the form of a slave."
"That one woman is both mother and virgin, not in spirit only but even in body. In spirit she is mother, not of our head, who is our Savior himself--of whom, even herself, all are rightly called children of the bridegroom--but plainly she is the mother of us who are his members, because by love she has cooperated so that the faithful, who are the members of that head, might be born in the Church. In body, indeed, she is the mother of that very head."
"It was not the visible sun, but its invisible Creator who consecrated this day for us, when the Virgin Mother, fertile of womb and integral in her virginity, brought him forth, made visible for us, by whom, when he was invisible, she too was created. A Virgin conceiving, a Virgin bearing, a Virgin pregnant, a Virgin bringing forth, a Virgin perpetual. Why do you wonder at this, O man?"
"Having excepted the holy Virgin Mary, concerning whom, on account of the honor of the Lord, I wish to have absolutely no question when treating of sins--for how do we know what abundance of grace for the total overcoming of sin was conferred upon her, who merited to conceive and bear him in whom there was no sin?--so, I say, with the exception of the Virgin, if we could have gathered together all those holy men and women, when they were living here, and had asked them whether they were without sin, what do we suppose would have been their answer?"
"I have been amazed that some are utterly in doubt as to whether or not the Holy Virgin is able to be called the Mother of God. For if our Lord Jesus Christ is God, how should the Holy Virgin who bore him not be the Mother of God?" St. Cyril of
"If anyone will not confess that the Emmanuel is very God, and that therefore the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God, inasmuch as in the flesh she bore the Word of God made flesh [John 1:14]: let him be anathema." St. Cyril of
"And since the holy Virgin corporally brought forth God made one with flesh according to nature, for this reason we also call her Mother of God, not as if the nature of the Word had the beginning of its existence from the flesh." St. Cyril of
"His [Christ's] origin is different, but his [human] nature is the same. Human usage and custom were lacking, but by divine power a Virgin conceived, a Virgin bore, and a Virgin she remained." Pope St. Leo the Great, "Sermon 22," c. 450 A.D.
Printed with permission from Catholic Defense.