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The Coronation of the Virgin Mary, altarpiece by Raphael (1502–1504)

The Mariology (the doctrine of Mary) is a part of Catholic dogma and deals with Mary , the mother of Jesus . Mary is seen as an instrument and first addressee of God's saving action towards man. In dogmatics, Mariology is assigned to the doctrine of grace.

The four dogmas of Mary

There are four dogmatic doctrinal statements about Mary in the Roman Catholic Church :

Mary's motherhood

In the Gospels, Mary is called “Mother of Jesus”. The name Mother of God came up in the context of the controversy over Christology : To emphasize that her son connected the divine nature with his human nature from the beginning of his life, Mary was called the " Theotokos " (Greek theotókos ). The Council of Ephesus in 431 resolved this teaching, particularly represented by Cyril of Alexandria .

Perpetual virginity of Mary

What is meant by this is that Mary was a virgin before , during and after the birth of Jesus . In ancient times, strong ascetic currents penetrated the church from around AD 200, often associated with a devaluation of the sexes. The phrase “Virgin Mary” was used more and more often; around AD 400 it was already a matter of course among bishops.

Immaculate Conception of Mary

According to this teaching, God preserved Mary from every stain of original sin because she was to become the Mother of God. Pope Pius IX proclaimed this view in 1854 as infallible doctrine - characterized by the words: "We declare, proclaim and determine in the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul and in our own":

“The doctrine that the Blessed Virgin Mary at the first moment of her conception was kept clean from every defect of original sin by the unique gift of grace and privilege of Almighty God, with regard to the merits of Christ Jesus, the Redeemer of mankind, is revealed by God and therefore to believe firmly and steadfastly by all believers. "

A warning follows against questioning this teaching. Through this commitment to the Immaculate Conception of Mary, as well as the following dogma, lasting ecumenical obstacles have been erected.

Assumption of the Virgin Mary

There is no historical information about the end of Mary's life. In the New Testament it is mentioned for the last time before Pentecost (Acts 1:14). In the 370s Epiphanius of Salamis (Cyprus) said: "We don't know whether she has died now, and whether she is buried." In the 5th century an apocryphal script was created, the Transitus Mariae (the passage of Mary), which describes the death and acceptance of Mary into heaven. In the case of Mary's bodily acceptance into heaven , the point is that Mary's body - whether still alive or already dead, remains open - is preserved from decay. The term “Assumption of Mary” is popularly spoken of. As dogma, this idea was adopted by Pope Pius XII. Formulated in 1950, based on the commandment to honor father and mother - but certainly also observed by Jesus:

“All these evidence and considerations of the Holy Fathers and theologians are ultimately based on Scripture… Because our Redeemer is now the Son of Mary, he, the most perfect observer of the law, indeed had to honor his dear mother as well as the Father . Since he was able to do her the great honor of saving her from the decomposition of death, one must therefore believe that he really did it. "

The commandment to honor father and mother does not, however, mean paying them every possible honor.

Here, too, the special claim of an infallible teaching is expressed:

"We proclaim, explain and define ... in the power of the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, the holy apostles Peter and Paul and Our own authority:
It is a truth of faith revealed by God that the immaculate, always virgin Mother of God Mary, after completing her earthly life, was received body and soul to heavenly glory. "

In addition to the fourth dogma of Mary, this doctrinal statement also contains the previous three dogmas.

It closes again with a clear demarcation from those of other faiths:

"Therefore, if, what God forbid, anyone dares to deny this truth, which has been defined by Us, or consciously cast it into doubt, he should know that he has completely fallen away from the divine and Catholic faith."

Second Vatican Council

The Second Vatican Council proclaimed no dogmas, not even to Mary - nor did it correct any older dogmas. But Mary placed it in the text about the Church. This expresses the intention to prevent an exaggeration and isolation of Mary's position. The dogmatist Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI. , explained this constitution and also commented on the chapter on Mary. He admits that only “a very small majority of fathers decided in favor of this classification”. Hugo Rahner , a connoisseur of the Old Church, had shown that at the beginning there was the teaching about the church - accordingly, the teaching about Mary was later copied:

"The Church is a virgin and mother, she has been received immaculately and bears the burden of history, she suffers and yet has already been taken into heaven."

Ratzinger already sees this in the "apocalyptic woman" in Revelation 12 : This figure does not exclusively represent Mary, but the old and new Israel - but Mary is also meant here. Here “the interrelationship between Mary and Church is anticipated”.

"The fact that later both fell apart, that Mary was represented as an individual showered with privileges and thus infinitely distant from us, and that the Church was seen as apersonal and purely institutional, damaged Mariology as well as ecclesiology."

More dogmatic approaches

The invocation of Mary as mediator of graces was used in the Council documents of the Vatican Council and thus belongs to the faith of Catholics.

In 2008 five cardinals formulated a petition for the creation of a further dogma, which Mary “as the spiritual mother of humanity; as a co-redeemer with Jesus, the Redeemer, as a mediator of all graces with Jesus, the one mediator and as an intercessor with Jesus Christ for all humanity ”.

See also


  • Wolfgang Beinert (Hrsg.): Handbuch der Marienkunde. 2 vols. Regensburg 1996.
  • Remigius Bäumer / Leo Scheffczyk (eds.): Marienlexikon . 6 volumes, St. Ottilien 1994.
  • Giovanni Miegge: The Virgin Mary. Study on the history of the doctrine of Mary . Goettingen 1962.
  • Gerhard Ludwig Müller : Maria - the woman in God's plan of salvation (Mariological studies; XV). Regensburg 2002.
  • Josef Neuner , Heinrich Roos (ed.): The faith of the church in the documents of the doctrinal proclamation , reworked by Karl Rahner, Karl-Heinz Weger. Friedrich Pustet, Regensburg 1971, 9th edition [German translation of mainly Latin texts; is usually quoted by number, not page].
  • Rudolf Graber, Anton Ziegenaus: The Marian world circulars of the Popes by Pius IX. to John Paul II (1849–1988). Institutum Marianum Regensburg e. V., Regensburg 1997.
  • Redemptoris Mater . Encyclical of Pope John Paul II on the Blessed Virgin Mary in the life of the pilgrim Church (pronouncements of the Apostolic See; 75). March 25, 1987.
  • Rosarium Virginis Mariae. Apostolic Letter (156) of Pope John Paul II of October 16, 2002.

Web links

Wiktionary: Mariology  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Particularly clearly in Origen in his Matthew Commentary X, 17 .
  2. In the bull "Ineffabilis Deus", quoted. according to Neuer / Roos: Faith of the Church , no.479.
  3. Im Panarion 78.11 .
  4. Apostolic Constitution "Munificentissimus Deus", according to Neuner / Roos: Faith of the Church , No. 483; the following number 487.
  5. The dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium devotes the entire final chapter to Mariology ( online text ). Most of it was designed by René Laurentin.
  6. ^ Joseph Ratzinger: Weggemeinschaft des Glaubens. Church as communion. Festival for the 75th birthday, ed. from the student group, Augsburg 2002.
  7. Lumen Gentium (LG), p. 60 ff.
  8. Cardinals hope for 5th Marian dogma