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Mary

Mary (Mariam: ; BC – AD), also known as Saint Mary or the Blessed Virgin Mary, or Παναγία in Greek, is identified in the Bible and in Quran as the mother of Jesus, the founder of the Christian religion. Christians hold her son Jesus to be the Christ or messiah foretold in Jewish scripture, and the God made flesh. Muslims also believe in Jesus as the foretold messiah, but disavow any actual divinity, instead regarding him as one of God’s greatest Messengers. The gospels of Matthew and Luke in the New Testament describe Mary as a virgin (, parthénos). Traditionally, Christians believe that she conceived her son miraculously by the agency of the Holy Spirit. Muslims believe that she conceived her son miraculously by the command of God. This took place when she was already betrothed to Joseph and was awaiting the concluding rite of marriage, the formal home-taking ceremony. She married Joseph and accompanied him to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. Dale Allison states that in ancient Jewish custom, Mary could have been betrothed at about 12, but does not claim that this did happen in her case. There is no direct evidence of Mary’s age at betrothal or in pregnancy. The Gospel of Luke begins its account of Mary’s life with the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel appeared to her and announced her divine selection to be the mother of Jesus. According to gospel accounts, Mary was present at the Crucifixion of Jesus and is depicted as a member of the early Christian community in Jerusalem. According to Apocryphal writings, she never died but was assumed into Heaven; this is known in Christian teaching as the Assumption. Mary has been venerated since Early Christianity, and is considered by millions to be the most meritorious saint of the religion. Christians from Orthodox (Eastern and Oriental), Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches believe that Mary, as Mother of Jesus, is the Mother of God and the Theotokos, literally “Giver of birth to God”. There is significant diversity in the Marian beliefs and devotional practices of major Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church holds distinctive Marian dogmas; namely her status as the mother of God; her Immaculate Conception; her perpetual virginity; and her Assumption into heaven. Many Protestants minimize Mary’s role within Christianity, based on the argued brevity of biblical references. Mary (Maryam) also has a revered position in Islam, where a whole chapter of the Qur’an is devoted to her, also describing the birth of Jesus.