The Old Roman Symbol was a forerunner of the Apostles Creed. The structure seems to imply a dual maternity.

I believe in God the Father almighty; and in Christ Jesus His only Son, our Lord, Who was born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, Who under Pontius Pilate was crucified and buried, on the third day rose again from the dead, ascended to heaven, sits at the right hand of the Father, whence He will come to judge the living and the dead; and in the Holy Spirit, the holy Church, the remission of sins, the resurrection of the flesh (the life everlasting)

Notice what could be understood as a dual maternity: "born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary". It seems if the Holy Spirit is the Eternal Matriarch of the Eternal Father then the dual-nature of the Son (Son of God; Son of Man) would be easily understood. Is their any evidence in church history that the Holy Spirit was understood as Eternal Matriarch?

When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus about being born again of the Holy Spirit, which could be understood then that God's children are born of the Holy Spirit?

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    It is you, who say that “it seems as if the Holy Spirit is the Eternal Matriarch”. I believe the Sacred Trinity is acting as the Eternal Patriarch in this Creed.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 14:37
  • If by that you make the Holy Spirit the Patriarch, then what of the Father. And if the Trinity is acting as Eternal Patriarch How is the Son (the one eternally born) the Patriarch.
    – Rick
    Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 14:47
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    The Sacred Trinity operates as one single and united being. That point is final. Mary is Jesus’ mother and not the Holy Spirit with Mary at the same time.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 14:49
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    Is their any evidence in church history that the Holy Spirit was understood as Eternal Matriarch? Is that your actual question? If so, replace your title with that. Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 16:39
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    The Latin of the Creed says natus est de Spiritu sancto ex Maria virgine: "born by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary" Not "the Holy Ghost and Mary." Mary was the mother, and the Holy Ghost is the source of the conception of that mother: "was found pregnant by [i.e. by the power of] the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 1). In Greek, the New Testament uses masculine pronouns for the Holy Ghost. Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 23:03

4 Answers 4


Maternity indicated motherhood whereas parenthood is denoted by paternity.

Please, for goodness sake, do not use modern English for interpreting meanings of Scripture retrospectively because English was not even invented when scripture was first written.

This question was better directed at linguists for bad grammar than understanding religious issues, imo.

Dual paternity? Yes, but not dual maternity.


I can’t answer for “ever” - there’s a lot of people in the history of the world!

Wikipedia has an article laying out all aspects of debate over this, but it has some issues: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_of_the_Holy_Spirit

HOWEVER, far more importantly, Jesus directly refers to the Holy Spirit as a “He”, and so do His followers. See John 14:26, Romans 8:16, Romans 8:26-27. There are more as well.


Several Church Fathers refer to the Holy Spirit as feminine, often citing now-lost Gospel of the Hebrews, in which Jesus speaks of "My Mother, the Holy Spirit." Origen quotes from it thus:

And if any accept the Gospel of the Hebrews - here the Savior says: "Even so did my mother, the Holy Spirit, take me by one of my hairs and carry me away on to the great mountain Tabor..." If the name of brother of Christ may be applied, not only to the race of men but to beings of diviner rank than they, then here is nothing absurd in the Holy Spirit's being His Mother; everyone being His mother who does the will of the Father in heaven. (Origen, Commentary on John 2.12.87 [on John 1:3])

In speaking of all Christians and even beings "diviner rank" (meaning Jesus) as the Holy Spirit's offspring, Origen confirms the OPs suggestion that Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus "could be understood [to mean] that God's children are born of the Holy Spirit."

Jerome also cites this Gospel. In his Commentary on Isaiah, he writes:

"The eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress" [Ps. 123:2] The maid is the soul and the mistress (dominam) is the Holy Spirit. For also in that Gospel written according to the Hebrews, which the Nazaraeans read, the Lord says: 'Just now, my Mother (mater), the Holy Spirit, took me.' Nobody should be offended by this, for among the Hebrews the Spirit is said to be of the feminine gender, although in our language it is called to be of masculine gender and in the Greek language neuter. (Jerome, Commentary on Isaiah 11, 40, 9 - Adriaen 1963:459)

This lost Gospel of the Hebrews may or may not be heretical. However, the fact that these Church Fathers cite it in a positive context shows that there is a church-historical basis for the OP question about an "Eternal Matriarch."

Several other church-historical references to the Holy Spirit's femininity are cited in "The Holy Spirit as feminine: Early Christian testimonies and their interpretation" by Johannes van Oort.

The above early Church Fathers departed from the traditional view that the Holy Spirit can only be considered male -- the masculine agent that conceived Jesus in Mary's womb. They were willing to consider and not be offended by the idea the the Holy Spirit is feminine, the heavenly counterpart to his earthly mother, Mary.


I think you will find that the relevant words are

… et in Iesum Christum, Filium Eius unicum, Dominum nostrum, qui conceptus est de Spiritu Sancto, natus ex Maria Virgine,

So “conceptus de” holy Spirit, and “natus ex” the holy Virgin.

To conceive is something like “receiving pregnancy”, and that is exactly what happend. The holy Virgin got pregnant by the holy Spirit, as you can read in Luke 1:31 and Luke 1:35. 31 is most interesting, as it clearly states (I quote from the USCCB Bible I found online)

Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.

So that is the conceiving part, the holy Spirit was responsible for “putting Jesus in the womb of Mary”. In a biological birth, that would be what the father does, in this case it is a metaphysical happening, but nevertheless, what the holy Spirit does here, would hardly be called “maternity”.

Of the holy Virgin not much about the conceiving part is said in your text. What is said, is that Jesus was born of her, natus ex. Now that is what you would associate with “maternity”.

I can hardly believe anyone ever has thought that the holy Spirit and the holy Virgin had somehow a similar part in this. As Luke states

Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God

This relates to the holy Spirit (yes, the third Person in the Trinity, God). The part of the holy Virgin is why we call her Θεοτόκος, theotokos, the God-baring, or the mother of God. Jesus got the flesh from the holy Virgin, the human body was formed like all humans after Adam and Eve are formed, in the womb of their mother, being fed by their mother so they can grow and be born.

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