Washington D.C., Dec 23, 2015 / 06:02 pm (CNA).- Our Lady. Blessed Mother. Virgin Mary. Queen of Peace. Theotokos. Handmaid of the Lord. Mother Mary.
These are just some of the titles used to describe the young woman to whom an angel appeared some 2,000 years ago with the message that she would conceive and bear the Savior of the World.
Mary has very few recorded words in the New Testament, but her worldwide devotion spans across time, cultures and even religions.
In a Nov. 8 feature for National Geographic, “How the Virgin Mary Became the World’s Most Powerful Woman,” Maureen Orth explores the worldwide phenomenon of devotion to the Mother of God in anticipation of the Dec. 13 National Geographic Channel special, “The Cult of Mary.”
In her piece, Orth spoke with Marian scholars and experts and even followed pilgrims to Marian apparition sites to learn more about this “most powerful woman.”
“We see the relationship of Mary with us isn’t just any relationship – it’s sacred,” María Enriqueta García, who did her sacred theology dissertation at the International Marian Research Institute at the University of Dayton, told Orth.
The idea of Mary as an intercessor before God comes from scripture at the Wedding Feast of Cana, when Jesus performs his first miracle after his mother’s prompting of, “They have no wine” followed by her instruction to the servers to, “Do whatever he tells you.”
“Since then no other woman has been as exalted as Mary,” Orth said. “As a universal symbol of maternal love, as well as of suffering and sacrifice, Mary is often the touchstone of our longing for meaning, a more accessible link to the supernatural than formal church teachings. Her mantle offers both security and protection.”