Woman of faith

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Woman of faith

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Woman of faith

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Miriam of Nazareth


What do we know about the woman wecall Mary?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgC-oCpO9VI&t=1215s


Named Miriam, after the sister of Moses. Born in Nazareth, a tiny Galilean town of about 500 people, during the reign of Herod the Great, a violent puppet-king propped up by Roman military might. She spoke Aramaic, with a Galilean accent but she also had contact with a multilingual world. She heard Latin as it slipped from the tongues of Roman soldiers, Greek as it was used in commerce and educated circles and Hebrew as the Torah was proclaimed in the synagogue.

The person


Miriam belonged to the peasant class, which eked out its living through subsistence farming and manual labor. This group made up 90 % of the population and bore the burden of supporting the state and the small privileged class.Poor, oppressed, overlooked, their daily life was a grueling grind, made worse by the triple tax burden they bore: to Rome, to Herod the Great and to the temple Some years they forfeited 75% of their income to taxes.


Like most people at that time,

Miriam most likely

lived in an extended family unit, where three or four houses of one or two rooms each were built around an open courtyard, in which relatives shared an oven, a cistern and a millstone for grinding grain, and where domestic animals also lived.


women in many parts of the world today,


most likely spent, on the average, 10 hours a day on domestic chores like carrying water from a nearby well or stream, gathering wood for the fire, cooking meals and washing utensils and clothes.


In Palestine at that time, women ordinarily married at about 13 years of age in order to maximize childbearing and to guarantee their virginity, so it is likely that Mary’s espousal to Joseph (Matt 1:18) and the birth of Jesus occurred when she was very young. It would be a mistake to think of Mary as fragile, even at 13. As a peasant woman capable of walking the hill country of Judea while pregnant, of making a four- or five-day journey on foot to Jerusalem once a year or so, of sleeping in the open country like other pilgrims and of engaging in daily hard labor at home, she probably had a robust physique in youth and even in her later years. 


It is doubtful Miriam knew how to read or write, since literacy was extremely rare among women of the time. The culture was highly oral, with public reading of the Scriptures, the telling of stories, the recitation of poems and the singing of songs.And as a womanher voice was notvalued. She was considered theproperty of herhusband – propertythat could be bought and sold.


The historical Miriam of Nazareth experienced poverty, oppression, and violence.

She and her husband were forced to flee from their home because of political violence, making them refugees in Egypt. She experienced the pain of being widowed. Her son was convicted of a capital crime and executed. Her faith is deeply rooted in that context. 

Yet her life was not without joy, without laughter, without friendship or the love of family.

Though her culture was quite different from that of our 21st-century post-industrial society, it was not unlike that of women in thousands of villages as they exist today in Asia, Africa and Latin America. 


History brings her nearer to us For many contemporary Christians Mary has become more of an idea, a symbol than a real person. Mary is known as the ‘first’ disciple. One of her first titles was “the model disciple” In early Christian texts we read about Mary’s holiness. A holiness that does not lie in doing spectacular miracles but in the persistent, faithful listening to God’s word in the midst of everyday life. Mary’s path is our path. Mary was and is seen as a person of unique significance in the Christian story Mary’s life embodied the teachings of her son. She believed that God can turn the world upside down; that the last are first and the first last; the humble are exalted, the exalted humbled; those who save their life lose it, those who lose their life save it; those who mourn will rejoice, those who laugh will cry; the mighty are cast down from their thrones, the lowly lifted up.

Why is discovering the historical Mary important?


Four principle dogmasMary is the mother of GodMary ever virginThe Immaculate ConceptionThe Assumption of MaryAll Christians believe the first. The vast majority of Christians believe the next three.

Catholic teaching about Mary


All of the teachings regarding Mary are present in the teachings of the early Christian Church.


constructing these teachings the Church uses both Sacred Scripture and Apostolic Tradition as the principle sources of authority


All of the Marian doctrines flow from our understanding of Christ. Christ is at the center of Christian faith. All other beliefs support our beliefs about Christ


Doctrines are defined formally only

when there is a controversy that needs to be cleared up;

when the Church as teacher thinks the faithful can be helped by particular emphasis being drawn to some already-existing belief

to affirm the faith of the people – the ‘




All Church teaching evolves


Catholics honor Mary’s unique place in the Christian story and admire the qualities we see in her as a woman of great faith.We ask Mary to pray for us. We do so because we acknowledge her special relationship with Christ and her love for us.

Catholics do not



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