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Mother of God

The title "Mother of God" for the Virgin Mary has deep roots in Christian tradition and was officially recognized at the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD. This council was convened to address the Nestorian heresy, which denied the unity of the divine and human natures of Christ and, consequently, questioned the appropriateness of calling Mary "Theotokos," meaning "God-bearer" or "Mother of God."

The use of the title "Mother of God" can be traced back even earlier, as the theological understanding of Mary's role developed in the early centuries of Christianity. For example, Saint Ignatius of Antioch (c. 35–107 AD) and Saint Irenaeus of Lyons (c. 130–202 AD) wrote about Mary's significance in the Incarnation, emphasizing her role in bearing and bringing forth the Son of God.


It was the Council of Ephesus that officially affirmed the title "Theotokos" and condemned the Nestorian heresy. The declaration at the council clarified the orthodox Christian belief in the unity of the divine and human natures in Jesus Christ, and Mary's title as "Mother of God" became an integral part of Christian doctrine.

Since then, the title has been widely used in Christian liturgy, theology, and devotion to honor Mary's unique and central role in the mystery of the Incarnation. The recognition of Mary as the Mother of God is an important aspect of both Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions, as well as in various other Christian denominations.

The prayer "Sub Tuum Praesidium" (Latin for "Under Your Protection") is considered the oldest known prayer to the Virgin Mary and one that identifies her as the Mother of God. The prayer is believed to have been in use by Christian communities in the 3rd century AD.


The earliest surviving manuscript containing the text of the "Sub Tuum Praesidium" is in Greek and dates back to the 3rd or 4th century. The manuscript was discovered in Egypt and is now housed in the Rylands Library in Manchester, England. The prayer is written on a fragment of papyrus and is part of a Christian liturgical text.

The prayer is as follows:

Sub tuum praesidium confugimus, Sancta Dei Genetrix.
Nostras deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus nostris,
sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper,
Virgo gloriosa et benedicta.



We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God.
Do not despise our petitions in our necessities,
but deliver us always from all dangers,
O glorious and blessed Virgin.

The prayer reflects a deep devotion and trust in the intercessory power of the Virgin Mary. Over time, it became part of the liturgical tradition in various Christian denominations, especially in Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. The prayer highlights the belief in Mary's role as a powerful intercessor and protector of those who turn to her in times of need. It continues to be recited and revered by many Christians around the world today.

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