Pope Shenouda III series
The Holy Virgin
BY HIS HOLINESS AMBA SHENOUDA III,
POPE AND PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA
AND OF THE APOSTOLIC SEE OF
ALL THE PREDICATION OF SAINT MARK
Translated from the Arabic edition of 1999
Available from: http://www.copticchurch.net
Name of the book: The Holy Virgin St. Mary
Author: His Holiness Pope Shenouda III
Editor: Orthodox Coptic Clerical College, Cairo
Press: Amba Rueiss, (Offset)
Deposition number at "The Library": 9173/96
All rights reserved to the author
His Holiness Pope Shenouda III
Pope and Patriarch of the See of Alexandria and of all the
Predication of the Evangelist St. Mark
In the Name of
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
the One God,
In this pamphlet, you read about:
Our mother the Saint Holy Virgin
The greatness of the Virgin
The oldest churches in her name
A life which was surrounded by miracles
The Virgin's fast
The Vigin in the Faith
Her surnames and symbols
The Virgin's virtues
Blessing her. Her icons.
Pope Shenouda III
OUR MOTHER THE SAINT VIRGIN
There is no woman about whom the prophets prophesied, and
about whom the Holy Bible cared, like the Virgin Mary.......There are
numerous symbols about her in the Old Testament. In the New
Testament also, there are her biography, her praise, and the miracles.
How many are the glorifying expressions and the contemplations,
which were cited about the Virgin in the books of the fathers.........How
full of praise are the surnames by which the Church calls her, and which
are inspired from the Spirit of the Holy Bible.......!
She is the mother of all of us, the lady of all of us, the pride of our
kind, the queen at the right side of the King, the Virgin with perpetual
virginity, the pure, the filled with grace, the saint Mary, the powerful and
helpful compassionate mother, the mother of the Light, the mother of
mercy and salvation, the true vine.
This is the one whom the Church elevates over the rank of
archangels, so that we say about her in her hymns and songs:
O Mary, you have been raised above the cherubims, and have
become higher than the seraphims, O Mary.
Mary who was bred up in the temple, and lived the life of prayer and
contemplation since her childhood, and who was the sacred vessel whom
the Lord has chosen to come inside her.
Long generations waited for the birth of this Virgin, so that the
fullness of the time would become complete by her (Gal.4:4)...........
She has removed the shame of Eva, and saved the reputation of
women after sin.
She is the mother of God, in perpetual virginity.
She is the Virgin who came to our country during the childhood of
Christ, and inhabited our land for years, during which she sanctified it,
and blessed it.........
She is the Virgin who appeared in Zeitoun 32 years ago, and
attracted to her the feelings of the crouds, with her light, her appearance,
and her visit to us.........
She is the Virgin who makes miracles in numerous places, where we
celebrate feasts for he. The stories of her miracles are innumerable.....
The Virgin is not a stranger to us; because she is profoundly
assimilated with the feelings of Copts that come out from faith to special
experience and emotion. How great an honor is it for our country and our
Church, to be visited in past times by our Lady the Virgin! How great an
honor is it that our Lady appeared on her domes many years ago!
There is not a human being whom christians have loved so much
as our Lady the Virgin Mary.
The majority of churches in Egypt celebrate her feast.
In the rites, how many are the compliments, the songs, the
veneration, the psalms, the doxologies, (glorifying blessings), which are
dedicated to her, especially in the month of Kiahk! The catholics have a
month for her, which is called the Mary month.........
Among the monasteries of monks in Egypt, there are the monastery
of El Baramous, the monastery of El Sourian, the monastery of El
Moharrak, which are all dedicated to her name; they represent the quarter
of the number of present monasteries.
There is a monastery for nuns which is dedicated to her name, in
Haret Zuwalah in Cairo. How many are the monasteries and the schools
which are dedicated to her name in the Western Churches.
THE OLDEST CHURCHES
DEDICATED TO HER NAME
The oldest church which was built and dedicated to the name of
the Virgin in the apostolic times, is the church of Philippi. The oldest
church which was built and dedicated to her name in Egypt, was in the
times of the Pope Theonas, the 16 th patriarch (year 274 AD).
Among the most reknown of her churches, there is the church of
the monastery El Moharrak, which was inuagurated in the times of the
Pope Theophilus, (the 23 rd pope), at the beginning of the fifth century,
on the 6th of Hator.
Also the churches which were built in the places that she visited in
On this occasion, we have two churches in Europe w ith the name
of "The Virgin of Zeitoun"; one is in France, and the other is in
THE GREATNESS OF THE VIRGIN
The greatness of the Virgin has been decreed in the sacred
oecumenical council of Ephesus, which was assembled in 431 AD. Two
hundred bishops from the world were present. They formulated the
prelude to the creed of the Christian Faith, in which it is cited: "We
venerate you, O mother of the true Light, and we glorify you, O Saint
Virgin Mother of God, because you gave birth for us to the Saviour of
the world, who has come and delivered our souls". What are the
foundations upon which the oecumenical council formulated this
prelude? That is what we shall explain now:
The Virgin is the blessed saint, whose blessing is contin uous
throughout the generations, as it has been mentioned in her hymn:
"For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed"
The Church calls the Virgin by the surname of "the queen". This
was mentionned by the psalm, about her:
"At Your right hand stands the queen" (Ps. 45:9).
That is why, many artists, when they draw the pictures of the Virgin,
they put a crown on her head, and she appears in the image, on the right
side of the Lord Christ.
The reverence of the Virgin appears in the salutation of the
archangel Gabriel to her:
"Peace to you, O you full of grace, "the Lord is with you; blessed
are you among women" (Luke 1:28). That is, with a special blessing, to
which also saint Elisabeth gave testimony. "Then she spoke out with a
loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the
fruit of your womb" (Luke 1:42).
Saint Elisabeth found herself small in front of the greatness of the
Virgin, and she spoke with the feeling that she was not deserving,
although she knew that her son "will be great in the sight of the Lord",
and that "He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah"
(Luke 1: 15-17). She said:
"But why is it granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should
come to me?" (Luke 1:43).
Probably the most evident proof of the greatness of the Virgin, and
of her position in the sight of the Lord, is that when her mere greeting
arrived to Elisabeth, the latter was filled with the Holy Spirit, and her
babe felt it and leaped in her womb for joy. The divine Intuition says in
"And it happened, when Elisabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that
the babe leaped in her womb, and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy
Spirit" (Luke 1:41).
It is really an amazing greatness, that her mere greeting makes
Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit! Who is he among the saints, whose
greeting caused another to be filled with the Holy Spirit?! But here is
Elizabeth testifying and saying: "For indeed, as soon as the voice of your
greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy" (Luke
Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, by the greeting of Mary,
and she also obtained the gift of prophecy and revelation:
She then knew that this is the mother of her Lord, and that she
believed " those things which were told her from the Lord", and she also
knew that the leaping of the babe was "for joy". This joy, of course, was
because of the Blessed One who was in the womb of the Virgin, "blessed
is the fruit of your womb" (Luke 1: 41-45).
The majesty of the Virgin shines brilliantly in the choice of her by
the Lord, from among all the women of the world.......
The only human being for whom the divine providence waited
thousands of years, till He found her, and judged that she deserved that
immense honor which the angel Gabriel explained saying: "The Holy
Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow
you; therefore also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the
Son of God" (Luke 1:35).
The Virgin excels all women in her eminence:
For that reason, the divine Intuition said about her: "Many
daughters have done well, but you excel them all" (Prov. 31:29). It is
probably from this divine text, that the song of the Church was taken:
"Many women have obtained honors, but no one of them obtained like
This Saint Virgin, was in the thought and in the providence of
God, since the beginning.
He said to our first parents, in the salvation which He promised
them, that the Seed of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent
(Genesis 3:15). This woman is the Virgin, and her Seed is Christ, who has
crushed the head of the serpent on the Cross.......
A LIFE SURROUNDED BY MIRACLES
In the life of The Virgin, miracles begin before her birth, and
continue after her death. From these:
1. She was generated with a miracle, from sterile parents, with an
annunciation from the angel.
2. The miracle of her bethrothal, in a divine manner which
determined who will take her and care for her.
3. The miracle of her conception of Christ while she is a virgin, and
the continuation of her virginity after giving birth.
4. The miracle during her visit to Elizabeth who, when she heard the
voice of her greeting, the babe leaped for joy in her womb, and she was
filled with the Holy Spirit.
5. Innumerable miracles during her visit to Egypt, one of which is
the fall of idols (Is. 19:1).
6. The first miracle which the Lord did in Cana of Galilea, happened
through her request.
7. The miracle of the dissolution of iron, and the deliverance of the
apostle Matthias, happened through her intervention.
8. The miracle of Christ receiving her soul, at the hour of her death.
9. The miracle of the striking of the jews by the Lord, when they
wanted to attack her corpse after her death.
10. The miracle of the ascent of her body to heaven.
11. The miracles which happened everywhere by her hands, about
which books were written.
12. Her apparition in numerous places, and especially her wonderful
apparation in our churches in Zeitoun, and in Papadopoulo.
Miracles are still happening everywhere, and will happen as a
testimony to the honor of this saint.
THE VIRGIN'S FAST
The Church celebrates the fast of our Lady the Virgin beginning
with the first of Mesra, (the 7th of August). It is a fast for which people
care very much, and they practice it with forceful ascetism. Some add
days to it, in regard of the great love of people for The Virgin.
The fast of The Virgin is an occasion for spiritual renaissance in
the majority of churches.
They prepare a spiritual program for daily sermons, and daily
masses too in some churches, even the churches which are not named by
the name of The Virgin.
There is a great feast for our Lady The Virgin, which is celebrated
in her ancient church in Mostorod.
Feasts of other saints are also celebrated in these days:
The feast of saint Georges at the monastery in Mit Damsis, is
celebrated in the second half of August, and also the feast of saint Abba
Macarius the Great, and the feast of saint Georges in his monastery at
In the same fast of The Virgin, we celebrate the feasts of reknown
she saints: like saint Ba´ssa (2 Misra, 6 August), saint Julita (6 Misra, 12
August), saint Marina (15 Misra, 21 August).
In the fast of The Virgin, we also celebrate the feast of the glorious
Transfiguration (13 Misra, 19 August).
In the same month (7 Misra, 13 August), we celebrate the feast of
the announcement, by the angel Gabriel to Joachim, of the birth of The
The feast of The Virgin is not the only occasion on which the
Church celebrates the feasts of The Virgin, but more is celebrated in the
month of Kiahk which is full of hyms, doxologies, and psalms for the
saint Virgin Mary.
Copts in Egypt, and specially women, take care for the fast of The
Virgin, in a manner that exceeds description.
There are many who fast it (with water and salt), that is without
oil........Many add a third week to it, as a kind of vow. There are also
those who vow to fast this fast without eating or drinking till the
appearance of the stars in heaven........
What then is the secret behind this care?
First: The love of Copts for The Virgin who had visited and blessed
their country, and left her traces in numerous places where churches have
Second: The multiple miracles which happened in Egypt through
the intercession of our Lady The Virgin, made many people optimistic to
build churches dedicated to her name.
The apparition of The Virgin in her church at Zeitoun, and the many
miracles that accompanied this apparition, have certainly increased the
affection of the Copts for The Virgin, and for the fast which bears her
Each saint has one feast in the Church, that is the day of his death or
his martyrdom; and may be another one that is the finding of his
remnants, or a miracle which happened relatively to his name, or the
building of a church for him.
But The Holy Virgin has a very great number of feasts. Of them,
1. The feast of the announcement of her nativity:
It is on the 7th of Misra, when the angel of the Lord announced her
father Joachim of her birth. He and her mother Anna were then joyful,
and they vowed her for the Lord.
2. The feast of her nativity:
The Church celebrates it on the first of Bashans.
3. The feast of her entry to the Temple:
The Church celebrates it on the 3rd of Kiahk. It is the day when
she entered the Temple to adore God in the special house for the virgins.
4. The feast of her coming to Egypt:
She was with the Christ our Lord, and Joseph the carpentar. The
Church celebrates it on the 24th of Bashans
5. The feast of the death of The Virgin:
It is on the 21st of Tubah. The Church also commemorates in it
the miracles which were accomplished in that day, when the fathers
apostles were surrounding her, with the exception of saint Thomas who
was then preaching in India.
6. The monthly feast of the Virgin:
It is on the 21st of every coptic month, in commemoration of her
death on the 21st of Tubah.
7. The feast of the ascent of her body to heaven:
The Church celebrates it on the 16th of Misra , the 22nd of August,
which is preceded by the Fast of The Virgin (15 days).
8. The feast of her miracle: (the disssolution of iron):
It is on the 21st of Baouna. In it we commemorate her miracle in
delivering the apostle saint Matthias and those who were with him from
prison, by dissoluting the iron which bounded them.
In that day also we celebrate the feast of the building of the first
church on her name in Philippi.
All these feasts have special hymns and doxologies in the rites of the
Church, which contain many prophecies and special symbols from the
Old Testament, concerning her.
9. The feast of her apparition in Zeitoun
on the domes of the church of The Virgin. It was on the 2nd of
April 1968, the 24th of Baramhat, and it remained during years.
In addition to all that, we celebrate during all the month of Kiahk,
(from December until the 7th of January), with hymns which are all about
the honor of our Lady The Virgin.
THE HOLY VIRGIN MARY
IN THE CHURCH'S FAITH
The Orthodox Coptic Church honors our Lady The Virgin with due
honor without exageration, and without lessening of her position.
1. She is, in the belief of the Church, the mother of God,
(Theotokos in Coptic), and not the mother of "Jesus" as the Nestorians
had claimed, those whom saint Kirillos the Alexandrian fought, and
whom the sacred oecumenical council of Ephesus excommuniated.
2. The Church believes that the Holy Spirit has sanctified the
depository of The Virgin during the pregnancy with Christ.
That was according to what the angel said to her "The Holy Spirit
will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you;
therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of
God" (Luke 1:35).
The sanctifying by the Holy Spirit of her depository, makes the
One born of her, be conceived without the impurity of the original sin. As
for The Virgin herself, her mother conceived, like all people, and so The
Virgin said in her hymn: "my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior"
That is why the Church does not agree that The Virgin was
conceived without the impurity of the original sin, as our brothers the
3. The Church believes in the intercession of The Virgin.
She places her intercession before the intercession of angels and
archangels, because she is the mother of God, and she is the Queen who
is at the right hand of the King.
4. The Holy Bible gives to The Virgin the surname "filled with
It is regrettable that the Beyrouth translation of the Bible, in a way
that lessens the situations of The Virgin, translates this surname "highly
favored one".........All human beings are highly favoured, but The Virgin
is filled with grace........ although grace does not mean infallibility.
5. The Church believes in the perpetuality of the virginity of The
The only exception to this rule, are our brothers the Protestants,
who claim that The Virgin gave birth to sons after Christ.
6. The Church believes in the Ascent of the body of The Virgin to
heaven, and celebrates that feast on the 16th of Misra.
HER SURNAMES AND SYMBOLS
A. Surnames as regards her greatness
and her relation with God:
1. We give her the surname of The Queen who is by the right side
of The King.
In this, we mention the words of the psalm "At your hand stands
the queen in gold from Ophir" (Ps. 45:9). That is why, in her icon, she is
portrayed at the right hand of the Christ our Lord. And we say about her
in the divine mass "the Lady and the Queen of us all"......
2. Also we say about her: "Our mother the Holy Virgin".
When the Christ our Lord was on the Cross, He said about that to
his disciple the beloved saint John: "Behold your mother" (John 19:27).
3. The Virgin is also compared to the ladder of Jacob"
That ladder which "was set up on the earth, and its top reached to
heaven" (Gen. 28:12). That is the symbol of The Virgin who, by her
giving birth to Christ, made the inhabitants of the earth reach to heaven.
4. She was also called "the bride"
because she is the true bride of the Lord of glory. The word of the
Lord in the psalm was realised in her: "Listen, O daughter consider and
incline your ear; forget your own people also, and your father's house; so
the King will greatly desire your beauty; because He is your Lord,
worship Him" (Ps. 45:10-11). That is why she was called the friend of
Solomon, who is the virgin of the Song of Songs.
It was said of her in the same psalm: "The royal daughter is all
glorious within the palace; her clothing is woven with gold. She shall be
brought to the king in robes of many colors" (Ps. 45:13-14).
5. We also give her the surname "the beautiful pigeon"
in remembrance of the beautiful pigeon that carried to our father Noah a
branch of olive tree, as a symbol of peace, bringing to him the good news
of the deliverance from the waters of the flood......... (Gen. 8:11). With
this surname, the priest burns incense in front of her icon when he goes
out of the sanctuary and says: "Hail to you, O Virgin Mary, the beautiful
The Virgin is compared to the pigeon in her simplicity and her purity
and the action of the Holy Spirit in her. She resembles the pigeon which
brought the good news of the deliverance after the flood, because she
brought the good news of the deliverance by Christ.
6. The Virgin is also compared to the cloud
because of her height on the one hand, and because the prophecy
of her coming to Egypt, compared her in this manner. It was mentionned
about this in the book of the prophet Isaiah:
"The burden against Egypt. Behold, the Lord rides on a swift cloud,
and will come into Egypt; the idols of Egypt will totter at His presence,
and the heart of Egypt will melt in its midst" (Is. 19:1). The expression
"cloud" is a symbol of the Lord who will come upon the clouds.
B. Her surnames and symbols
as regards her motherhood to the Christ our Lord:
7. One of the surnames by which The Virgin has been
described is "Theotokos"
that is: "the mother of God". This surname has been called upon her
by the sacred oecumenical council of Ephesus in 431 AD. Saint Kirillos
the Great insisted on that surname in his response to Nestorius......
Saint Elizabeth addressed her with that surname "the mother of my
Lord" (Luke 1:43).
8. One of her surnames is also: "the golden censer".
We call her "Te shury" that is the censer in Coptic; and
sometimes "the censer of Aaron".......... As for the fire which it contains
inside her, coal in it symbolises the human nature of Christ, and fire
symbolises His divine nature, as it has been said in the Holy Bible: "our
God is a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:29).
The censer symbolises the womb of The Virgin where divinity was
united with humanity. The censer being of gold, that points to the
greatness and the purity of The Virgin. Regarding the purity and the
sanctity of The Virgin, we call The Virgin in her hymns "the golden
censer" (Te shury ennub, in Coptic).
9. The Virgin is also surnamed "the second heaven"
because as heaven is the abode of God, so The Virgin Mary
was an abode of God during the sacred pregnancy.
10. The Virgin is also surnamed "the city of God":
The prophecy in the psalm is realised in her: "Glorious things
are spoken of you, O city of God" (Ps 87:3). Or what was said of her "the
city of the great King", or certain prophecies which were said about
Jerusalem, are realised in her..........or Zion as it was also said in the
psalm: "And of Zion it will be said, "This one and that one were born in
her; and the most High Himself shall establish her" (Ps. 87:5).
11. In this quality, she was surnamed "the vine where was found
the cluster of life"
that is Christ. The Church asks for her intercession with that
surname in the prayer of the third hour, saying to her: "O mother of God,
you are the true vine who bears the cluster of life"........
12. By this quality of motherhood, she has other surnames of
which we mention:
The mother of the true light, considering that it has been said of
the Christ our Lord, that He is "the true Light which gives light to every
man coming into the world" (John 1:9).
Likewise she was surnamed "the golden lamp" because she bears
the Light. And also: "the mother of the Holy One", considering that the
angel, when he announced her with the birth of Christ, said to her: "also,
that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God"
"The mother of the Saviour", because the Christ our Lord is the
Saviour of the world: "and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save
His people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21).
13. Among her symbols also: "the bush which the prophet Moses
saw" (Exodus 3:2).
We say in the song: "The bush which the prophet Moses saw in
the desert, is the symbol of the mother of Light, blessed be she. She has
carried the fire of divinity in her womb, without being touched by any
harm". It was said of the Lord that He is "a consuming fire" (Heb 12:29)
to which the fire which is burning inside the bush, is a symbol, and the
bush symbolises The Virgin.
14. Also a mong her symbols: "the ark of the Testimony".
This ark was made of acacia wood that cannot be moth -eaten,
and was covered with gold from inside and outside (Ex. 25:10, 22), as a
symbol of the purity and the greatness of The Virgin. It also symbolised
the things which were inside the ark that were a symbol of the Christ our
There was kept "the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron's rod that
budded, and the tablets of the covenant" (as a symbol of the incarnated
Word of God).
15. The Virgin is also compared to the pot of the manna;
because the manna was a symbol of the Christ our Lord, as being
the live bread who came down from heaven, everybody who eats from
him lives by Him, that is also the bread of life (John 6: 32,48,49). Since
the Lord Christ is compared to the manna, so it is possible to compare the
Virgin to the pot of the manna, who carried this celestial bread inside her.
16. The Virgin is also compared to the rod of Aaron which
that is: she miraculously sprouted and carried the buds of life,
(Num.17:6 -8); although a rod has of course no life in it that can produce
blossoms and yield fruit. This symbolises the virginity of The Virgin who
could not sprout or produce posterity; but she gave birth through a
miracle. This description is mentioned in the hymn of Sunday.
17. The tabernacle of meeting (the dome of Moses).
The tabernacle of meeting was the place upon which The Lord
used to come, and The Virgin is she upon whom The Lord came. God
manifested his love for his people in the two cases. That is what we say in
the book of the hymns (Al Ipsalmodia): "You have been compared, O
Virgin Mary, to the tabernacle which Moses made on the mountain of
Sina´, where God was inside".
18. The Virgin is compared to the gate in the East.
That which the prophet Ezechiel saw, and of which the Lord
said: "This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall
enter by it, because the Lord God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it
shall be shut" (Ez. 44: 1 -2). The prophet saw the glory of the Lord at this
gate which is in the East, and the house was filled with it (Ez. 43: 2,4,5).
That symbolises the virginity of the Virgin who was from the
countries of the East; and how this virginity remained sealed.
Because she was that gate from the East, she was qualified as:
19. The gate of life, the gate of deliverance:
It was said about our Lady the Virgin in the book of Ezechiel: "As
for the prince, because he is the prince, he may sit in it to eat bread before
the Lord; he shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gateway, and go
out the same way" (Ez. 44:3).
Since the Lord is the Life, then she is the gate of the Life. The Lord
said: "I am the resurrection and the life" (John 11:25). That is why the
Virgin is the gate of the Life, that gate out of which the Lord came out,
granting life to all those who believe in Him.......
It is not astonishing that we surname the Virgin "the gate", because
the Church also was surnamed "the gate". Our father Jacob said about
Bethel: "How awsome is this place! This is none other than the house of
God, and this is the gate of heaven!" (Gen. 28:17).
20. She was compared to the "Holiest of all"
That in which the chief priest entered once a year, to make
atonement for all the people. The Lord of glory came once inside the
Virgin Mary for the redemption of all the world.
THE VIRGIN'S VIRTUES
LIFE OF HUMILITY
Humility was a fundamental condition for her of whom the Lord
of Glory will be born.
It was indispensable that He would be born from a humble person,
who could bear the glory of the divine Incarnation from her.........the glory
of the coming of the Holy Spirit in her......and the glory of the nativity of
the Lord from her, and the glory of all the generations blessing her, and
the humility of Elizabeth in front of her saying to her: "But why is this
granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?"
(Luke 1:43). Likewise to bear the glory of all the apparitions of angels,
and the worship of the Mages in front of her Son, and the many miracles
which happened by her son in the land of Egypt, and the light of this Son
in her bosom.
That is why, "the fullness of the time" (Gal. 4:4) waited for this
human being from whom the Son of God was born.
This humility was manifested in her life, as we shall see:
The angel announced to her that she will become the mother of the
Lord, but she said: "Behold the maid-servant of the Lord" (Luke 1:38),
that is his slave and his maiden.
The magnificent glory which was given to her, absolutely did not
decrease by her humility. But rather it was because of this humility that
the Lord granted her that glory. "For He has regarded the lowly state of
His maidservant" and made great things for her (Luke 1: 48, 49).
The humility of the Virgin was also manifested in her going to
Elizabeth in order to serve her, during the period of her pregnancy. As
soon as she heard that she was pregnant, in her sixth month, she travelled
to her in a tiring journey across the mountains. She remained with her for
three months, till her days were complete to give birth (Luke 1: 39-56).
She did so while she was pregnant with the Lord of glory.
Her lack of talking about the glories of the divine Incarnation, is a
sign of her humility.
LIFE OF ABANDON
She lived saintly and purely in the temple. Then came a time when
they said to her to go out of the temple. She did not protest or object, such
as many women do, when they are forbidden by the ecclesiastical laws, to
enter the church in certain periods; and they protest and discuss much ....!
She wanted to live without marriage, but they ordered her to live
under the guardianship of a man, according to the custom in her days.....
She did not protest then, and she accepted to live in the custody of
a man, as she had accepted to go out of the temple........
She lived the life of abandon, not protesting, not resisting, not
objecting, but quietly abandonning to the will of God, without discussion.
She was determined to live the life of virginity, and did never think
at any time of becoming a mother. And when God willed that she
becomes a mother by the coming of the Holy Spirit upon her (Luke 1:35),
she did not discuss, but replied with her immortal expression: "Behold the
maid -servant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word"
(Luke 1:38)..... For that, God granted her the motherhood, and kept her
virginity too, and she became a mother, the thing in which she had
absolutely never thought ...... Through abandon, she became the mother
of the Lord....... rather the greatest in value of all mothers.
She was ordered to go to Egypt, and she went.
And she was ordered to come back from Egypt, and she came
back. She was ordered to move from Bethlehem and to reside in
Nazareth, and she moved and resided.
She was a calm human being, living the life of abandon, without
discussion. That is why "He who is mighty has done great things" to
her........ "For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant".
THE LIFE OF ENDURANCE
She became an orphan from her two parents, when she was eight
years old, and she endured the life of orphanage. She lived in the temple
while she was a child, and she endured the life of solitude there. She
came out of the temple in order to live in the custody of a carpentar, and
she endured the life of poverty. When she gave birth to her only Son,
"there was no room for them in the inn", then she "laid Him in a manger"
(Luke 2:7). She supported that also....... She endured the responsability
while she was in a tender age. She supported the magnificent glory which
surrounded her, without being harrassed by the thoughts of greatness.
It was not possible for her to declare that she has given birth while
she was a virgin, so she kept silent and endured that.
She suffered the tiring voyage to Egypt and back. She suffered to be
expelled there from town to town, because the idols were falling down in
front of the Christ (Is. 19:1). She suffered to be a poor foreigner. She
suffered that a sword would pierce through her own soul also (Luke 2:35)
because of that which her Son met, the persecutions, the insults, and
lastly the suffering and the shame of the cross.......
The Virgin was not satisfied only to endure negatively, but she
lived in the jubilation by the Lord
as she said in her hymn: "my spirit has rejoiced in God my
Saviour" (Luke 1:47).
FAITH AND NOT GRUMBLING
She did not grumble at all in all that she suffered. When Herod
menaced to kill her Son, in the flight to Egypt, and in the persecutions
from the Jews, she did not say, where is the announcement that He will sit
to reign on the throne of his father David....and there will be no end to his
kingdom (Luke 1: 32-33)! But she was rather patient; and as Elizabeth
said about her "And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a
performance of those things which were told her from the Lord"
She believed that she will give birth while remaining a virgin, and
that was realised for her.
She believed that the "Holy One who is to be born will be called the
Son of God." (Luke 1:35), in spite of his birth in a manger. What she
believed in, was realised for her, by way of the visions and the angels
whom she saw, and the miracles which were accomplished by Him. She
believed in all that, in spite of the persecutions to which He was
She believed while He was on the cross, then she saw Him after His
resurrection from the dead (Matt. 28).
SILENCE, PRAYER, AND MEDITATION
It was God who arranged that she became an orphan and lived in the
In the temple, she learned the life of solitude and silence, and to
become preoccupied with prayer and meditation. Having lost the love
and tenderness of her parents, she became preoccupied with the love of
She lived a life of seclusion with prayers, hymns, reading of the
Holy Bible, study and recall from memory of many of its verses, and of
the psalms. Certainly her hymn in the house of Elizabeth is a proof of
that, because the majority of its verses are taken from the psalms and the
verses of the Holy Bible.
Silence became one of the characteristics of her spirituality.
Although she was in the events of the Nativity: having seen wonderful
things which probably exceed the endurance of her age as a small girl,
and miracles that surrounded her, and having heard the words of angels,
shepherds, and wise men from the East.......... she did not speak proudly
about the events of the Nativity, but "kept all these things and pondered
them in her heart" (Luke 2"19).
The silent meditating Virgin is a lesson for us. May we be like
her: meditating much, and speaking a little.
Nevertheless I see, that when time came for her to speak, she
became a source for the ecclesiastical tradition, in some of the news
which the apostles and the evangelists learned from her: the miracles and
the events during the flight to Egypt, and the conversation of the Christ
among the masters in the temple while He was young (Luke 3: 46-47).
The Lord has chosen this poor orphan girl, to become the foremost
woman in existence. She possessed in her virtues what is more than
Also among her virtues, there are her personal sanctity, her purity
and her virginity, her spiritual knowledge, her service to others, and her
spiritual motherhood to the fathers apostles.
Time would lack if we were to speak about all her virtues.
O how many are the blessings that were given to the Virgin!
They were mentionned in the melodies of the Church, in the hymns,
in the "theotokies" (praise of the mother of God), the songs, the
doxologies (praise of benediction), in each day of her feasts days, in the
book of praises for the month of Kiahk, in the hymns of the Church, and
in the book of praises (Psalmodiah).
The Church mentions her before the archangels when citing the
names of the assembly of the saints; and so also in all her intercessional
prayers. The Church, in her blessing of the Virgin, realises the prophecy
which she said in her hymn:
"For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed"
The Church offers incense to her, and presents greetings to her.
Many are the hymns which begin with the expression "Hail to Mary"
(shara na Maria, in Coptic), or the hymns which begin with the
expression "Rejoice O Mary", or the hymn where the prophet David
moves the ten cords of his guitar, and he mentions a blessing to her in
We mention her in the book of prayers of the hours, and in the
mass, and in all the books of the Church:
In the Synaxaire, in the "Difnar", in the "Katamaras", in the
"Psalmodia", and in all the books of hymns and responses.........
We mention her in the book of the prayers of the hours, in the third
paragraph of every prayer in the prayers of the day, asking for her
intercession. We mention her in the creed, and we say in its prelude:" We
exalt you, O mother of the True Light and we glorify you, O saint Virgin,
mother of God......."
We mention her in the prayer of the benediction, in its beginning
and in its end.
We begin the benediction saying: "through the prayers and
supplications and implorations which the mother of God, the saint pure
Virgin, raises every time for our sake". And after mentioning the names
of the angels, the apostles, the prophets, the martyrs, and all the saints, we
terminate the benediction saying: "and the blessing of our Lady the
Virgin firstly and lastly".....
THE ICON OF THE VIRGIN
There is a difference between images for meditation, and an icon
for the rites.
In the icons, it is indispensable that she appears with the Christ, as
being the mother of God.
She must be at his right side, for it has been said in the psalm: "At
your right hand stands the queen" (Ps. 45:9).
And because she is a queen, there must be a crown on her head,
and so the Christ.
As a saint, there must be a halo of light around her head, for the
Lord said: "You are the light of the world" (Matt. 5:14).
Because she is the second heaven, there are stars, angels, and
clouds around her.
Intercede for us, O saint Virgin, in order that the Lord would
include us in His mercy.