I find the Catholic title "Mother of God" for the Virgin Mary confusing. It is clear that she was the mother of Jesus, the Son. But the title suggests (indeed, not literally, but still) that Mary is mother of God as a Trinity. Is that correct? If so, it creates the problem that a human (or is there reason to say that Mary wasn't (entirely) human?) gave birth to God, while God created mankind.

This problem doesn't exist when Mary is only mother of Jesus, because then it could be merely a way of speaking to say that Mary was the one through whom the Word became flesh, which would be the Protestant view as described in Why do Protestants not refer to Mary by the title "Mother of God"?

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    Not my downvote, but it's not correct: Jesus is God, so Mary is Mother of God. The Father is God, but Mary is not mother of the Father. But that doesn't stop her being Mother of God, because Jesus is God. See Athanasius Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 10:06
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    Mary is the mother of Jesus in His physical being. Yet He is eternal and only took on flesh. So, Jesus is Mary's Creator, but Mary is the mother of Jesus according to the flesh.
    – Narnian
    Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 12:55
  • There is an athiest argument that says, "God screwed his mother to create himself". As rude as it is, it's an pandora's box to figure out. Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 15:44
  • @AndrewLeach valid point, thank you. Literally you are right, but still, I think the title at least suggests that Mary is mother of God the Trinity. I edited my question accordingly.
    – user5729
    Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 7:47

3 Answers 3


But the title seems to refer to God the Trinity. Is that correct?

No it does not.

First trinity is not God. Trinity is how God is. That is trinity is not a person, it is a relationship. So Mary cannot be the mother of Trinity.

Secondly it would be nice if you know the context why and when this was declared as a dogma. The problem rose when Nestorius said the Mary held within herself only the human Jesus and not divine Christ. That is Mary is the mother of human Jesus. But as we all know mothers don't give birth to "human nature", but to a person. Hence Mary is the mother of a person named Jesus, who happens to be divine in an Hypostatic union. Since Mary is mother of His humanity, she is also the mother of His divinity.

When we say Mary is the mother of God, we do not mean that she is the author of His Divinity. But we mean that she held in herself and gave birth to God and Human Jesus.

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    To be precise, Mary is "the mother of God the Son." That would eliminate the confusion for everyone.
    – user900
    Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 18:25
  • Wait a second. So you guys are saying that God came to the Earth in the form of a man, who during his lifetime was limited in knowledge and power and openly admitted that The Father was greater than he was. OK, so Mary was the mother of the man Jesus but it's highly misleading to call her mother of God. Because it's obvious God existed before Mary, and the listener may easily apply the property of parenthood that parents predate their children! Commented May 28, 2014 at 16:18
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    @GregoryMagarshak knowledge and power is limited to his human intellect not divine. Jesus is 100% Human and 100% divine. Jesus is one person with two nature in hypostatic union. Since mary carried inside her the person of Jesus who happens to be both human and divine, Mary is the Mother of God. Commented May 28, 2014 at 16:57
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    Could you substantiate your assertion that the "trinity is not God"? The sounds like polytheism.
    – Geremia
    Commented Sep 14, 2015 at 0:52
  • @Geremia based on the subsequent sentences I'm guessing he means to imply that the word "Trinity" describes the essence or nature of God, rather than naming a person or individual. Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 4:21

According to this syllogism, she is the Mother of God, not just the Mother of the Son of God:

  1. The Son of God is God. (1 Jn. 5:20)
  2. Mary is the mother of the Son of God. (Mat. 1:18)
  3. Ergo, Mary is the Mother of God.

Mary does not precede God, since nothing precedes Him; He is the Alpha, the First. Christ's humanity was created in Mary's womb; God is uncreated. Yet, because Christ's humanity is united to His divinity in the hypostatic union, Mary is truly the mother of both His humanity and divinity.

Just because God creates a newly conceived person's soul out of nothing, does this mean this person's biological mother is only the mother of "half" the person, viz., of his body only? Analogously with the Mother of God and Christ: Just because Mary didn't create the (uncreated) Divinity of God in her womb, does that make her only the mother of His humanity (and just of his human body, per the aforementioned reason)?

Addressing the question "Whether the Blessed Virgin should be called the Mother of God?," St. Thomas Aquinas gives the following objection:

Christ is called God in respect of His Divine Nature. But the Divine Nature did not first originate from the Virgin. Therefore the Blessed Virgin should not be called the Mother of God.

to which he replies with a quote from St. Cyril, similar to the questions I asked above:

This was an argument of Nestorius. But Cyril, in a letter against Nestorius [*Cf. Acta Conc. Ephes., p. 1, cap. ii], answers it thus: "Just as when a man's soul is born with its body, they are considered as one being: and if anyone wish to say that the mother of the flesh is not the mother of the soul, he says too much. Something like this may be perceived in the generation of Christ. For the Word of God was born of the substance of God the Father: but because He took flesh, we must of necessity confess that in the flesh He was born of a woman." Consequently we must say that the Blessed Virgin is called the Mother of God, not as though she were the Mother of the Godhead [mater divinitatis or "Mother/Creator of Divinity"], but because she is the mother, according to His human nature, of the Person who has both the divine and the human nature.


I find the Catholic title "Mother of God" for the Virgin Mary confusing

It shouldn't be. Let's rephrase 'Mother of God':

Of Whom was Mary the mother?

If you must withold 'God,' then you withold it of Christ who is very God (in addition to be truly human, or vice versa). And would be a heretic: a Nestorian, to be precise.

If you say 'Jesus, in His humanity' you withold 'God' from Christ, which is impossible: He being at all times absolutely God and absolutely man, and never only either, since His incarnation—since the Hypostatic Union.

Galatians 4:4

But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent his Son, made of a woman...

This Son was at all times 'God' and so Mary, being His mother, is indeed the Mother of God. It's really very simple.


Luke 1:43

And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

Now if one doubts this Lord is Christ, or that He is "Lord..and..God" (John 20:28) Then He has a faulty Christology. As well as a misunderstanding of the doctrine of the Trinity. The doctrine of Trinity is such that each Person of the Trinity is truly God, individually, but not separate Gods. Nonetheless, they are each God because they are of the one substance, God. each Person of the Trinity is not the Trinity; but each Person of the Trinity is God, fully, truly.

"This problem doesn't exist when Mary is only mother of Jesus, because then it could be merely a way of speaking to say that Mary was the one through whom the Word became flesh"

Not if "the Word was God" (John 1:1) is in your Bible.

One needs to make the "the Word" who was and is "God" different from the one "born of [Mary]" (Gal 4:4) in order for her not to be the Mother of God.

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