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The Early Church Fathers on the title of Mary, Mother of God.


  • Early Church Fathers
  • From the Scriptures



  1. Tatian the Assyrian, (the Syrian), (A.D. c.120-180)
    St. Irenæus of Lyons, (A.D. 125-202)
    St. Hippolytus of Rome, (A.D. 170-236)

Tatian the Assyrian, (the Syrian), (A.D. c.120-180), Assyrian; was an early Christian writer and theologian. A disciple of St. Justin. Tatian's most influential work is the Diatessaron, a Biblical paraphrase, or "harmony", of the four gospels that became the standard text of the four gospels in the Syriac-speaking churches until the 5th century.

The Virgin Mary, being obedient to his word, received from an angel the glad tidings that she would bear God.

Against Heresies, 5:19:1 [A.D. 189]

St. Irenæus of Lyons, (A.D. 125-202), Asia Minor; bishop, missionary, theologian, defender of orthodoxy. Though by birth a Greek, he was Bishop of Lyons in the second century. He tells us that, in his early youth, he learned the rudiments of religion from St. Polycarp, the disciple of St. John the Apostle. He wrote several works, of which only a few fragments are now known, with the exception of his Treatise against Heretics which we have in five books.

The Virgin Mary, being obedient to his word, received from an angel the glad tidings that she would bear God.

Against Heresies, 5:19:1 [A.D. 189]

St. Hippolytus of Rome, (A.D. 170-236), Roman; bishop and martyr, probably a scholar of St. Irenæus of Lyons.

[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]

Discourse on the End of the World 1 [A.D. 217]



Mary's title being, the Mother of God, is a teaching and reflection on "Who Jesus Christ is", then on who Mary is.


The Early Church Fathers had no problem referring to Mary as the Mother of God. They saw it as a natural consequence of the Incarnation. It was not an affirmation that Mary was the originator of God the Father, but that she bore the God-Man, her Divine Son, Jesus, in her womb and as Revelation would show, would become incarnate for the sake of our salvation. As a consequence, Jesus is a Divine person, not a human person like many heretics were saying.



The Church's Scriptures that support Mary being the Mother of God [the God-bearer of Jesus]:


Even those in the community where Jesus lived recognized Mary as His mother

55 Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary?

Matthew 13:55

Mary's cousin Elizabeth also testifies that Mary is the Mother of [my Lord] God.

41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

Luke 1:41-43

John acknowledges that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was at the marriage at Cana

1 On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.

John 2:1

John acknowledges, for a second time, that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was at the foot of the Cross

25 So the soldiers did this. But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

John 19:25

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