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Coptic Anchorites
St. Mary

The Holy Virgin St. Mary

 

By  H.H. Pope Shenouda III

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The Holy Virgin Saint Mary 


                                                  By:  HH Pope Shenouda III


   No woman throughout all ages has ever been predicted by the prophets, who were inspired by the Holy Spirit or has attained such great attention in the scriptures, as the Virgin Mary has!


  Many symbols are related to her in the Old Testament also her story, her glory, and many miracles are cited in the New Testament.


  Behold, how many doxologies and contemplations concerning her, have been quoted in the fathers books.  And how many honorable surnames inspired by the spirit of the Scriptures are offered to her by the church.


  She is the Mother of us all, the Lady of us all.. the pride of our race.. the queen who sits at the right hand of the Lord King, the perpetual virgin.. the holy, pure, and full of grace Saint Mary.. the mighty, helpful, and merciful mother.. the Mother of the Light.. mother of pity.. of redemption.. the true vine.


  She is the Saint whom the church exalts above the ranks of the archangels, and to whom we sing saying:  You are exalted above the Cherubim, more honored than the Seraphim.


  She is Saint Mary who was raised in the temple, specifically the Holy of the Holies and pursued the life of prayers and meditation since her infancy.  She is the vessel which the Lord selected to dwell in:  When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son born of a woman.  Galatians 4:4


  She is the lady who erased Eves disgrace, and saved  the womans reputation after sin.  She is the Mother of God.. the perpetual virgin.


  She is the Virgin who came to our country (Egypt) during the infancy of Jesus Christ, and dwelt in our land for years through which she blessed and sanctified it.


  She is the Virgin who transfigured in Zeitoon (Cairo, Egypt) in April 1968, and captured the peoples emotions through her illuminative apparition and her visitation to us.


  She is the Virgin who performs many miracles everywhere and we used to celebrate its commemorization.  The amazing stories of her miracles are too numerous to be counted.


  + Copts are familiar with the Holy Virgin.  They revere her, not only for the faith factor but on the grounds of their personal experience and intimacy.  They commemorate the blessed visit of the Holy Family to Egypt in the distant past in addition to the recent apparition of the Holy Virgin on the domes of her church in Zeitoon.


  No human being throughout all ages of Christianity has ever attained such love of the people as did our Lady Saint Mary.  In Egypt, most churches celebrate her feast.


  Our Coptic rites include many Doxologies, praises, Psalis, and hymns offered to her, especially during the Coptic month Kiyahk.


   The Catholic Church, also has assigned a month to honor and magnify Saint Mary, and called it The Marian month


   Some of our monasteries in Egypt carry her name:  The Paramos, The Syrian, Al Meharrak, i.e. almost a quarter of our whole current monasteries. 


   Also there is a nunnery which is called after the Virgins name, in Haret Zuela, Cairo.


  Countless of convents and schools in the Western World carry the Virgins name.


 Most ancient churches were built after her name  


   The oldest church on her name was built in Phillippi, during the Apostolic era.  While the oldest one carrying her name in Egypt was built during the reign of Pope Theona the 16th .  (274 A.D.)


  One of the most renowned of her churches is the church of the monastery of El Meharrak in Upper Egypt and which was consecrated during the reign of Pope Theophilis the twenty third at the beginning of thecentury 5 th (6 th  Hatour), in addition to the churches which were built in the locations visited by the Holy Family in Egypt.


And by the way, we have two churches in Europe carrying the name: The Virgin of Zeitoon : one of them is in Paris and the other is in Vienna.


  The magnificence of the Holy Virgin


  The Virgins magnificence has been confirmed by the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus (431A.D.) which was attended by two hundred bishops from all over the world, and which established the introduction to the Creed: We magnify you, the Mother of the True Light.  We glorify you, O Saint, the Mother of God (Theotokos) (()e`otokoc)  for you brought forth unto us the Savior of the whole world.  He came and saved our souls.


  Whence, on what grounds did the council establish this introduction??


  This is what we shall present in the following:-



 + The Holy Virgin is the blessed Saint, who is to be beatified throughout all ages, as mentioned in her praise: Henceforth all generations will call me blessed [Luke 1:46]



 + The church calls her the queen whom the psalm predicted, at Your Right Hand stands the queen [Psalm 45: 9]


  Whence, in trying to draw her icon, painters place a crown on her head, while she appears at the right hand of our Lord Jesus Christ. 


 + Honoring the holy Virgin is evident in the greeting of the Angel Gabriel to her: Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you.  Blessed are you among women. [Luke 1: 28] i.e. a special blessing which was acknowledged also by St. Elizabeth who spoke out with a loud voice and said, Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. [Luke 1: 42]  And addressing the magnificence of St. Mary, Elizabeth felt her lowliness, and although, she was aware of the greatness of her son to be in the sight of the Lord and that He will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah [Luke 1: 15, 17] Elizabeth said, Why is this granted to me that the mother of My Lord should come to me? [Luke 1: 43]


   Perhaps one of the clearest evidence of the dignity of the Virgin and of her elevated rank in the sight of the Lord, is that when Elizabeth heard the greeting of St. Mary, the babe leaped in her womb and she was filled with the Holy Spirit.  Whereupon she spoke loudly, For indeed as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. [Luke 1: 44] 
  Truly, it is an amazing majesty, that St. Marys mere greeting has filled Elizabeth of the Holy Spirit, and made her ready to prophesy and for revelation;


  She realized that the Virgin was the Mother of God and that she (St. Mary) believed for there would be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.  Elizabeth also knew that the babe leaped for joy and that joy was due to the holy Babe Who was in the Virgins womb, Blessed is the fruit of your womb. [Luke 1:42]



 The majesty of the Virgin is manifested in being


elected by the Lord from among all women


  She is the only woman whom the divine plan waited for thousands of years, until  He came upon her and found her worthy of the great honor which Gabriel the angel proclaimed as The Holy Spirit will overshadow you,: therefore ,also that Holy One Who is to be born will be called the Son of God.[Luke1:35]



 In her greatness, the Virgin  excels all women 


  Therefore the divine inspiration says about her, Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.  (Proverbs 31:29)   Maybe it is this verse which inspired the churchs hymn: Many women attained honors, but none of them reached what you achieved.


   This holy Virgin was in the Lords mind and plans since the beginning.  For the sake of salvation with which He promised our first Parents, He said that the Seed of the woman should bruise the serpents head.  (Genesis 3:15)  This woman is the Virgin Mary, and her Seed is Jesus Christ who bruised the Serpents head on the Cross 


       Life encompassed by miracles


  Miracles started in the Virgins life before her birth and continued after her departure as being cited in the following:



  1- The miracle of her being conceived with, of two barren parents, after the good tidings of the Lords angel. 


  2- The miracle of her betrothal through a plan that elected Saint Joseph to take care of her.



  3- The miracle of her conception with Jesus Christ in her virginity, and her perpetual virginity after birth. 


  4- The miracle that happened at her meeting with Elizabeth, who, at hearing the Virgins greeting the babe leaped for joy in her womb, and she was filled with the Holy Spirit.



  5- The innumerable of miracles that occurred during her presence in Egypt, among which was the tottering of the idols of Egypt.  (Isaiah 19:1) 


  6- The first miracle performed by our Lord Jesus Christ at the wedding of Cana, was in response to her request.



  7- The miracle of the dissolution of the chains and releasing Saint Mathias the apostle, was performed through her intercession.  


  8- The miracle of the Lords presence to receive her soul at her departures hour.



  9- The miracle of the plague which hit the Jews who violated her burial service at her departure. 


  10- The miracle of her bodys assumption to heaven.


  11- The countless of miracles she has performed everywhere and which are cited in many books.



  12- Her apparitions in many places and in specific her apparition in Zeitoon and Papa Duplo in Cairo.    


  and more miracles that occur currently everywhere, and will continue to witness for her honor.



    The Virgins Fast


  On the first of the Coptic month Messra (August 7th) the church celebrates the Virgins fast which the Copts revere very much.  They practice it in great devoutness.  Some people fast more days than the established period (15 days), due to their great love to the Virgin. 


   The Virgins fast becomes a field to lay plans of spiritual activities.  In most churches daily liturgies are performed and suitable sermons are daily scheduled.



   A great festival for the Virgin is set up in her ancient church in Mostorod (Egypt).  The commemoration of many other saints are celebrated as well during these fasting days: 


   Saint George the Prince of Martyrs commemoration is celebrated in Mitdamsis monastery during the second half of August.  Likewise the feast of Saint Macarius the Great, and the feast of saint George in his monastery in Rozaikat.  Also, at the same fasting period, we celebrate the memory of many famous virgin saints, among whom:


  Saint Paeesa (2nd Messra: 8th August), Saint Lulita (6th  Messra: 12th August) and Saint Marina (15thMessra: 21st August).


  Moreover, on 13th Messra: 19th Aug. we celebrate the great Transfiguration feast.


  During the same month (7th Messra: 13th Aug.) we also commemorate the Annunciation of the birth of the Virgin St. Mary to St. Joachim.



   However, the Virgins fast is not the only occasion we celebrate her, but for most we celebrate her too, throughout the Coptic month Kiyahk with abundant of Doxologies, Psalies and Praises.



   The Copts, especially women, revere much the Virgins fast.  Many of them break their fast on nonfat foods.  Others vow to abstain from food and water until the show up of stars in the evening.


  Whence, what is the significance of all this love and reverence for the Holy Virgin?
  I. Copts venerate the Virgin who visited and blessed their country, leaving traces of her presence in many locations, on which churches were built.


  II. Through the intercession of the Virgin, many miracles have been performed, and consequently many churches are built after her name.


  And maybe the apparition of the Virgin on the domes of her church in Zeitoon associated with many miracles, has amounted to the love which Copts carry to her.



 The Virgins Feasts


  The good memory of each Saint is celebrated in the church on one occasion every year: the day of his/her departure or his martyrdom, and sometimes the discovery of his relics, or a miracle performed by him/her, or on the occasion of building a church after his/her name.


  Yet Saint Mary has many feasts, among which:-



   (1) The Annunciation of her birth (7th Messra).  The angel brought the good news of her birth to her father St Joachim.  He rejoiced together with his wife Anna, and they both vowed her to the Lord.


   (2) Her birthday, which the church celebrates on 1 Bashans.


   (3) Her entry into the temple. (In the residence of the virgins to worship God.)(3rd Kiahk).


   (4) Her entry into Egypt together with the child Jesus Christ and St. Joseph (24th Bashans)


  (5) The feast of her departure (21st Touba). The church also commemorates the miracles which were accomplished that day.  All the Apostles (except St. Thomas who was then preaching the Gospel in India) were gathered around her.


   (6) The monthly feast of the Virgin (the 21st of every Coptic month) to memorize the feast day of her departure.


  (7) Her Assumption (16th Messra: 22nd Aug.)..at the end of the 15 days of fasting devoted to her.


  (8) The Feast of her miracle: The (dissolution of the iron) (21st Baouna) when she released St. Matthias the apostle and his company by unbinding the iron chains they were shackled with.


  Likewise, we celebrate the memory of building the first church after her name, in Phillippi.


   Each of all these feasts has its special hymns, and Doxologies that quote many  prophesies and symbols related to her in the Old Testament.


   (9) The Feast of her Apparition in Zeitoon..on the domes of St. Mary Church (on the 2nd of April 1968) and which continued for years.



  Besides celebrating all these feasts, the church offers many praises and hymns to honor the Virgin all along the Coptic month Kiahk.



The Virgin Mary According to our Churchs Dogma


  The Coptic Orthodox church offers the Virgin St. Mary the proper devotion and honor she is worthy of, without exaggeration or belittlement.


  (1) The church believes that she is the Mother of God (()e`otokoc) and not the mother of Jesus as the Nestorians claim.  Wherefore Saint Cyril of Alexandria fought them and they were excommunicated by the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus (431 A.D.)


  (2) The church believes that the Holy Spirit has sanctified the Virgins womb at her conception of Jesus Christ, according to what the Angel said to her: The Holy Spirit will come upon you, therefore, also, that Holy one who is to be born will be called the Son of God. [Luke 1:47].


  Therefore the church disagrees with the concept of the Immaculate Conception which the Catholic Church claims that the Virgin Mary was preserved free from original sin by divine grace.


  (3) The church also believes in the intercession of the Virgin and place it prior to the angels and archangels intercessions, because she is the Mother of God and she is the queen who sits on the right hand of the King.


   (4) The Holy Bible calls her: Full of Grace


  Nevertheless the Beirout translation-in trying to belittle her status- expressed the term as highly favored.  For all people are favored, but the Virgin alone is full of grace..though grace does not mean infallibility.


  (5) The church believes in the perpetual virginity of St. Mary.  And all the churches accept this belief except the Protestants who claim that the Virgin gave birth to more children after Christ.


   (6) The church believes in the assumption of the Virgins body to heaven.  And the church commemorates this event on the 16th of Messra.



 The Virgins Surnames and Symbols


  I. Surnames indicating her glory and her relation to the Lord:


  Many are the surnames that the church addresses the Holy Virgin with.  The following are amongst those surnames:



  1. The Queen ..  who sits on the right hand of God.  At Your right hand stands the queen [Psalm 45:9]. On that ground, in her icons, she is always shown on the right hand of our Lord Jesus Christ.


   Likewise, in the holy liturgy, we address her: Our Lady and the queen of us all...


   2. Our Mother the Holy Virgin ..


  On the cross, Jesus Christ said to His disciple Saint John: Behold, your mother. [John 9:27]


  3. Jacobs Ladder


  The ladder which our father Jacob had seen in his dream and which was set upon the earth, and its top reached to heaven [Gen. 28:12] was a symbol of the Virgin who gave birth to Jesus Christ Who leads all who believe in Him to the heavenly kingdom.


   4. The Bride


  For she is the true bride of the Lord, who verified the Lords words in the Psalm: Listen, O daughter, Consider and incline your ear; Forget your own people also and your fathers house.  So the King will greatly desire your beauty.  Because He is your Lord, worship Him. [Psalm 45:10, 11]


  On that ground, she is also called: The Friend of Solomon  referring to the Virgin mentioned in the Song of Solomon.


  In that same Psalm, the Virgin is described as,: The royal daughter is all glorious within the palace.  Her clothing is woven with gold in robes of many colors.


  5. The Beautiful Dove


  As the dove which came to Noah carrying a freshly olive leaf, as a symbol of peace, carrying to him the good news of his deliverance from the flood, [Gen. 8: 11] so the Holy Virgin brought the good news of salvation to the whole world through our Lord Jesus Christ. 


   6. The Cloud


  The Holy Virgin is likened to the cloud for her superiority in addition to the prophecy of Isaiah who predicted her coming into Egypt saying: Behold, the Lord rides on a swift cloud.  And will come into Egypt.  The idols of Egypt will melt in its midst. [Isaiah 19:1]


  The term Cloud stands for elevation as well as for the second coming of The Lord on the cloud. [Matt. 16:27]



 II. Surnames and symbols in related  to her motherhood to the Christ


  7. The Mother of God (The Theotokos)  (()e`otokoc)


  A surname established by the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus (431 A.D.). It is the same surname to which St. Cyril the Great, held firm in his refutation to the Nestorians claims.  And it is also the same surname with which St Elizabeth addressed her: the Mother of My Lord. [Luke 1:43]


   8. The Golden Censor ( ti shoori) T2ovri


  And sometimes she is called: Aaron Censor. As for the embers of the censor, the coal symbolizes the Human nature of the Christ, and the fire symbolizes His Divinity, as Our God is a consuming fire [Hebrew 12: 29].


  So, the censor demonstrates the Holy Virgins womb where His Divinity has united with His Humanity.


  And being of gold, the censor indicates the glory and superiority of the Virgin.  Wherefore, due to her purity and holiness we address her chanting: Ti shoori en noov.. T2ovri `nnovb i.e. The Golden Censor


  9. The Second Heaven:


   For as the heaven is the house of the Lord, so the Virgin was the house of the Incarnated God during the holy conception.


   10. The City Of God  (Psalm 87:3)


   Glorious things are spoken of you O City Of God or The City Of The Great King [Matt 5:33]


  Many prophesies in the Psalm about Jerusalem or Zion were verified through the Holy Virgin: This one was born there. And of Zion it will be said, This is one and that one were born in her. And the Most High Himself shall establish her. [Psalm 87:4-5] 


  11. The Vine Who Bore the Cluster of Life:  (cluster of life= Jesus Christ)


  In the prayer of the third hour of the Agpeya, the church addresses the Holy Virgin saying: O Mother Of God you are the true vine who bore the Cluster of Life, we, ask you for the salvation of our souls


   12. And in accordance with that motherhood to the Lord she has more surnames:


  + The mother of the True Light


   based upon the Scriptures word that Jesus Christ is The True Light which gives light to every man coming to the world [John 1:9].


  + And in the same course, she is called: The Golden Lighthouse as she carries the Light.


  +The Mother of the Holy


  in accordance with Archangel Gabriels saying to her Therefore, also, that Holy One Who is to be born will be called the Son of God. [Luke 1:35]


  + The Mother of The Savior


  The angel of the Lord said to St. Joseph, She will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. [Matt. 1: 21]


   13. The Burning Bush


  As the burning bush which Moses had seen in the wilderness was not injured by the fire [Ex. 3:2], so the Holy Virgin who carried the Divine Ember nine months in her womb was not injured although our Lord is said to be, A Consuming Fire [Heb. 12: 29]


  The bush symbolized the Holy Virgin, and the fire symbolized Our Lord Jesus Christ.


   14. The Ark of the Covenant


  The ark was made of acacia wood that would not decay, overlaid roundabout with gold [Ex. 25: 10, 22] as a symbol of the Holy Virgins purity and glory.


  The arks contents represented Our Lord Jesus Christ. In the ark was kept: the golden pot where the Manna was hidden, the rod of Aaron that budded [Heb. 9: 4] and the tablets of the covenant (symbol of the Incarnated Word).


   15. The Pot of Manna


  As the Manna was a symbol of Jesus Christ Who is the true Bread from Heaven, he who comes to Him shall never hunger and he who believes in Him shall never thirst (John 6:35), so the Holy Virgin could be likened to the pot of Manna which carried the heavenly bread within.


  16. The Rod of Aaron that budded


  Though the rod was lifeless and was not apt for budding or producing blossoms or fruits, yet it Had produced blossoms and yielded ripe almonds (Numbers 17:6, 8).


  Likewise, the Holy Virgin, in her perpetual virginity gave birth to Jesus Christ our Lord.


  Wherefore the Sunday Psali refers to this fact.


  17. The Tabernacle of  Meeting (Moses Tabernacle)


  The Lord settled down in Moses Tabernacle, as well as He came down unto the Holy Virgins womb.  It was in accordance with His love for his people, in both events.  Wherefore we praise the Holy Virgin in the Psalmody saying: You are likened to the Tabernacle which Moses had made on Sinai Mount...and the Lord settled down in it.



  18. The Gate That Faces Towards The East


  She is likened to the gate which Ezekiel the prophet had spiritually seen and of which the Lord spoke: This Gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter by it; therefore it shall be shut (Ezekiel 44:1,2).  And at that gate Ezekiel saw the glory of the Lord filling the temple. (Ezekiel 43:5).


  This represents the Virginity of St. Mary who came from the East and preserved her body as a pure and untouched vessel.



  (19). The gate of Life... The Gate Of Salvation


  Referring to the Holy Virgin, it is said: The Lord God of Israel has entered by it... (Ezekiel 44:2)


  And as the Lord is the life, so she is the Gate of the Life. I am the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25).


  And as the Lord is the Salvation...Who came down to offer salvation to those who believe in Him... has come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).  So, the Virgin is the gate of Salvation.


  However, it is not uncommon to call her: Gate for the church is also called: Gate. How awful is this place!  This is none other than the house of God, and this is the Gate of heaven! Says Jacob pointing out to Bethel. (Genesis 28:17)


  20.  The Holy Of Holies


  She is also likened to the Holy of Holies which was entered by the chief priest once a year to perform atonement on the peoples behalf.  Likewise, the Lord God came down once unto her womb for the worlds redemption.


 


 The Virgins Virtues


     Life of Humility


  Humility was a basic attribute to the woman whom the Lord was to be born of.  It is a must, to be born of a humbled woman who can endure the glory of the Divine Incarnation through her.. the glory of the coming down of the Holy Spirit upon her... and the glory of the Nativity... the glory of being blessed throughout all ages... endure the lowliness of Elizabeth before her  while saying, Why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  (Luke 1:43).  In addition to all the apparitions of the angels... and the worship of Magus before her Son... and the many miracles performed by her Son in Egypt, and the luminance of her Son Who was in her bosom.


  Therefore, The Fullness of the time (Galatians 4:4) waited for that woman of whom the Son of God was to be born .


  The Virgins lowliness in heart was manifested in her life.  She demonstrated it in many situations:


  + When the Angel of the Lord brought her the good news of her becoming the Mother of God she said, Behold the maid-servant of the Lord!  Let it be to me according to your word (Luke 1:38). Behold!  his servant and slave.  The great glory which was offered to her, did not lessen her humility.


  In return, God granted her that glory, For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. (Luke 1:48, 49)


  + The Virgins humility was witnessed in her going to Elizabeth to serve her during the period of her pregnancy.  Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste... and Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house. (Luke 1:39, 56)  Although she has conceived the Lord God.


  + Through her humility she has never spoken of the glories of the Divine Incarnation.


Life of  Submission to God


  + She lived a holy saintly life in the temple.. Until it was time for her to leave.. She did not oppose or protest as many others do when they are requested not to go to the church at certain times according to the churchs ritual, then they murmur, grumble and argue in protest.


  + She was planning to live in celibacy, but she was requested to live in the fatherly protection of a man according to the traditions of her era.


  + She did not protest, but accepted to quit the temple as well.


  + She pursued the life of contentment without protest or argument, but however she accepted Gods will in content and satisfaction.


  + She had determined to live in celibacy, and she never imagined to be a mother one day.  But however, when Gods will for her, was to be a mother through  the descent of the Holy Spirit on her [Luke 1: 35], she did not argue but replied unto her everlasting song:
Behold, the maid-servant of the Lord!  Let it be to me according to your word  [Luke 1: 38]..whence she was granted the motherhood, and she stayed in virginity and became a mother.. an issue she had never reflected upon before.. Through contentment and submission she became the Mother of God.. even the supreme mother throughout all ages.


  + She was commanded to escape into Egypt.. and she did.  Then she was requested to return back from Egypt.. and she submitted.


  She was commanded to relocate her place of living from Bethlehem to Nazareth.. and she did.


  She was meek and gentle living in contentment, without arguing.  Whence the Almighty has done great things for her..for He regarded the lowly state of His maidservant.


Life of Tolerance


  She was orphaned of her two parents, while she was only eight years old, and she endured the life of orphanage .  And she lived in the temple in her infancy, and tolerated the life of loneliness.  She left the temple to live in the care of a carpenter in poverty.


  And when she gave birth to her only child, there was no room in the inn, so she wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, [Luke 2: 7] and she endured that also..


  She carried on the responsibility in her youth and endured the great glory which surrounded her without being tempted by thoughts of grandeur.


  She was not able to proclaim that she had brought forth a Son without knowing a man.. therefore she kept silent and endured that.


  She endured the hardships of traveling forth and back to Egypt.. and withstood being expelled from one city to another in consequence of the tottering of the idols at the presence of Jesus Christ [Isaiah 19: 1].. she withstood alienation and poverty.  She tolerated, a sword will pierce through your own soul [Luke 2: 35] arising form the suffering, persecution  and insults that overtook her Son and the shame of crucifixion.


  Not only did she tolerate those hardships and situations, but she also rejoiced unto the Lord as she said in her song and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior [Luke 1: 47]


 


 Faith without murmur


  Throughout all her tolerance and suffering she has never murmured.  And in spite of threatening her Son to be killed, and His escape into Egypt, and His persecution by the Jews, she had never murmured in doubt of His future as the Son of the Highest Who would reign over the house of Jacob forever and of His Kingdom, there shall be no end [Luke 1: 32].  Nevertheless, she was patient and trusted in the fulfillment of those matters which were told to her from the Lord. [Luke 1:45]


  She believed that she would conceive and bring forth a Son while being Virgin.  And that was fulfilled.


  And she believed that the Holy One who was to be born would be called the Son of God [Luke 1: 35] although He was born in a manger.  All what she trusted and believed in, was established and confirmed through the apparitions and the angels she had seen and through the miracles her Son had performed , in spite of the persecutions he encountered.  She believed in Him while He was on the Cross...thereon she saw Him on His Resurrection. (Matthew 28)


 


 Silence... Prayer and Contemplation


  In accordance with Gods plan, she was orphaned and lived in the temple where she learned how to live in solitude and silence and persevere in praying and contemplating.  Also, as she lost the love and gentleness of her parents, she kept busy with Gods love alone.  Thus she bent on praying and praising and reading the holy Scriptures, and memorizing many of its verses, as well as the Psalms.  May be her song, at Elizabeths place was a plain evidence of that, especially because the majority of its words were quoted of the inscriptions verses and Psalms.


  Silence became one of her major spiritual attributes.  For, behold, in spite of what she had seen related to the Divine Nativity and its coincident amazing events and miracles, and Magus, she nevertheless did not boast of these glories, but instead kept all these things and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2:19). 


  Thereby, the Holy silent and contemplating Virgin, set an example for us.  May we pursue her: contemplate more and speak less.


  Nevertheless I figure out that when the appropriate time came for her to speak, she became a reference for the churchs traditions, concerning the news of which the apostles and the writers of the books of the Holy Gospel, knew the details of the miracles and the debate between Jesus Christ in His youth and the Rabbis in the temple. [Luke 3: 46,47]


More Virtues


   The Lord has elected this poor, orphaned girl to be the greatest woman all over the world.  The virtues she possessed have exceeded all riches.


  Her purity and holiness were among her many virtues: chastity, virginity, spiritual knowledge, spirit of giving, and her spiritual motherhood to the Apostles.


  However, any attempt to enumerate her virtues will fall short of surrounding them.


 


Her Beatitude


           Many are the beatitudes which are offered  to the holy Virgin, and which are included in: the churchs hymns, and praises, glorifications, Doxologies, Theotokias.. through all her feast days, together with the Kiahkian Psalmody and the Holy Psalmody.


  In the commemoration of Saints, and in all the canonical prayers the Virgins name is mentioned prior to the Archangels.


  Through the beatitude of the holy Virgin, the church realizes the prophesy which she had predicted in her praise: Henceforth all generations will call me blessed [Luke 1: 48]


   Hence, the priest offers her the incense and the church praises her chanting: Shere Maria or Rejoice O Mary and glorifies her  with King David the Prophet who moved the ten strings of his harp crying out saying the queen stood at Your Right Hand O King


  Furthermore, we glorify her through the prayers of the Agpeya  and of the Liturgy and in all the churchs books:


  the synaxarium.. the Antiphonarion (Defnar)..the Katameros.. the Psalmody.. and the books of Hymns.


           In the Agpeya (i.e. the Coptic book of hours) we appeal for her intercessions in the third passage of every prayer hour.


  Likewise, in the introduction of the Orthodox Creed, we address the Holy Virgin saying: We magnify you, the Mother of the True Light.  We glorify you O Saint the Mother of God Theotokos


  Even at the final blessing of the Liturgy, the priest starts saying: The supplications and prayers which the Lady of us all the Holy Theotokos, Saint Mary makes for us, and those then he mentions the names of the Angels, Apostles, martyrs and saints, after which he ends the blessing prayer saying, And the blessing of the holy Theotokos first and last


 


 The Holy Virgins Icon


  The images which are planned for meditation differ from the ritual Icons.


  In an Icon, the Holy Virgin should be drawn as the Mother of God (Theotokos), who sits on His right hand, in accord with the Psalms words: At Your right hand stands the queen, o King [Psalms 45:9]


  And because she is a queen, she should have a crown on her head, as well as our Lord Jesus Christ.


  And being a Saint she should have a luminous nimbus around her head, as God says: You are the light of the world. [Matthew 5:14]


  And as she is called the Second Heaven, so she is surrounded by stars, angels and clouds.


 


O Mother of God, intercede on our behalf, so that the Lord may have mercy upon us.


 


Amen 


Edited from Arabic by Archdeacon Aziz Nashed

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Translated from Arabic by:  Archdeacon Aziz Nashed

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