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Mary, Mother of Jesus

by Camille Fronk

Centuries before her birth, Book of Mormon prophets referred to Mary by name in prophecies of her vital mission (Mosiah 3:8). Describing her as "most beautiful and fair above all other virgins" (1 Ne. 11:13-20) and a "precious and chosen vessel" (Alma 7:10), they prophesied that Mary would bear the Son of God and was therefore blessed above all other women. "We cannot but think that the Father would choose the greatest female spirit to be the mother of his Son, even as he chose the male spirit like unto him to be the Savior" (McConkie, p. 327).

Mary's willingness to submit to the will of the Father was noted in the biblical account. When Gabriel announced that she would be the mother of the Savior, Mary was perplexed; yet she did not waiver in her humble obedience and faith in God. Her response was unadorned: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word" (Luke 1:38).

Had Judah been a free nation, Mary could have been recognized as a "princess of royal blood through descent from David" (JC, p. 90). Being of that earthly lineage, Jesus was correctly called a descendant of David (see Jesus Christ in the Scriptures: the Bible).

As a faithful Jewish woman, she followed the customs of her day. At least forty-one days after giving birth to her first son, Mary went to the Court of the Women, where she became ceremonially clean in the purification rite, offering two turtledoves or two pigeons at the temple as a sacrifice (Luke 2:22-24). In the years that followed, Mary bore additional children by her earthly husband Joseph (Matt. 1:25; 13:55-56; Mark 6:3). One of them, "James the Lord's brother" (Gal. 1:19), became a Christian leader in Jerusalem.

In the New Testament, Mary is mentioned in conjunction with the accounts of the youthful Jesus teaching in the temple (Luke 2:41-51), his turning the water to wine at Cana (John 2:2-5), his crucifixion (John 19:25-26), and as mourning with the apostles after Jesus' ascension (Acts 1:14).

Doctrinally, Latter-day Saints do not view Mary as the intercessor with her son in behalf of those who pray and they do not pray to her. They affirm the virgin birth but reject the traditions of the immaculate conception, of Mary's perpetual virginity, and of her "assumption" (cf. McConkie, p. 327). Mary, like all mortals, returns to the Father only through the Atonement of her son Jesus Christ.

(See Basic Beliefs home page; The Holy Bible home page; People in the Bible home page)


McConkie, Bruce R. The Mortal Messiah, Book I. Salt Lake City, 1981.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism

Copyright 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company

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