St. John Neumann, Eagan, Minn
Mary and Child

Mary, Mother of God
First century
Feast – January 1

A manuscript fragment in Greek from the fourth century refers to Mary as the “Mother of God.” The feast was introduced near the end of that century; it is the oldest Marian feast in the Roman liturgical calendar. Mary was definitively called “ Theotokos,” or “God-bearer,” at the Council of Ephesus in 431. From then until about 650, the divine maternity of Mary was celebrated near Christmas and concluded the Christmas octave in the Roman calendar. But, as other Marian feasts were added to the calendar, this one became less important and was replaced by the feast of the Circumcision of Christ. The 1969 revision of the Roman calendar restored it as a solemnity concluding the Christmas octave.