I have judged this to be a not-so-impossible theory after some time doing a little investigation into the original intention of, and original Hebrew (or at least non-Greek words) underlying, the angel's greeting to Mary; more specifically, the best interpretation of the word κεχαριτωμενη (Luke 1:28).

The theory began mostly because Jerome's translation (plena gratia) has intrigued me to no end, as a "fullness" of "grace" could only be arrived at by either taking the past perfect tense of the word (lit. "having been graced/favored"), and and taking it for some completedness—fullness—of the action of being "graced" by God. It may be theologically true, and thus justified indeed in this specific sense (and theologically true but linguistically liberal translations are not foreign to the Septuagint, or Targumim), however, in context, "you have found favor with God" which the angel says just after (1:30) appears to be the governing explanation for the greeting, as well as to preclude the "grace" sense of χαρις (i.e. leaving us only with the sense "favor")—although, perhaps confusingly, grace is nothing else than the divine favor).

So, I surmised that it might have been a name (inasmuch as it stands for her name, "Hail, Kecharitomene: the Lord be with thee"), or Hebrew which can be phrased in some name-like way. Immediately, I thought of the Hebrew for grace (Hhen), and thus the name Hannah: I can think of no better translation of Hannah than Κεχαριτωμενη! And thus I'm thinking Gabriel could actually have said the name Hannah, identifying Mary with her (possibly explaining Mary's bewilderment at "what manner of greeting this is" Gabriel used: Luke 1:29), or a similar Semitic word with the same force and result: I'm struggling to think of what else Gabriel could have said that Luke would have translated by so specific a word.

In any case, it led me to the first instance we hear of Hannah in the Bible, when she prays that God looks upon her state of disgrace, which refers to her having no children, and grants her offspring. The disgrace of course is her inability to have children, and the being looked upon or favored is being gifted miraculous conception.

Then I realized that only Mary and Hannah say this:

1 Lᴜᴋᴇ 1:48 My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour: for he has looked upon the humiliation of his maidservant.

1 Sᴀᴍᴜᴇʟ 1:11

And making a vow, [Hannah] said, "Lord of hosts, if you look upon the humiliation of your maidservant, and remember me, and forget not, but give your maidservant male seed, I shall dedicate him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and a razor shall not come near his head.

The "disgrace" or "humiliation," (עני) per this Hebrew idiomatic usage, refers almost technically to inability to have children and associated negative or low reputation [cf. Luke 1:25] (another proof that Mary intended to remain a virgin, because women only refer to their inability to have children as a disgrace by way of lamentation—not their not yet having had children! just a side note): in Hannah's case, because of physically incapability: in Mary's case, because she has vowed to remain a virgin.


Does this correlation imply Mary, who intended to remain a virgin, nonetheless prayed to God that she could give birth to the Messiah (perhaps thinking of Scriptures like Isaiah 7:14, for example), and did any Church Fathers think this?

Thanks in advance.

  • That this happened is more evident than why it did, but the disparity between the clarity of former and the latter is not grounds to dismiss anything: we allow the stronger evidence to cause us to posit reasons, but we don't say it's impossible because we see no prominent reason initially. There's evidence in the bible, very early Jewish-Christian tradition, as well as the Talmud, that there were Temple virgins, and that possible Joseph, a widower, received the role of caretaker for Mary as soon as she became old enough to menstruate and thus, unsuitably, to defile the Temple grounds. Nov 27, 2019 at 23:58
  • But that's just one explanation: even if we had none, it doesn't mean there isn't one. More ridiculous than this good explanation is that Mary meant, "How am I serious going to conceive a child when I am betrothed to Joseph?" instead of, "How am I going to conceive without knowing Joseph." Or again that she said a reproach which hadn't even been established yet (she hadn't known Joseph to know whether she was barren or not) was taken away—the occasion for her joy. Nov 28, 2019 at 0:01
  • @NigelJ "Because it seemed to be forbidden by the [Old Testament] law not to take the necessary steps for leaving a posterity on earth, therefore the Mother of God did not vow virginity absolutely, but under the condition that it were pleasing to God. When, however, she knew that it was acceptable to God, she made the vow absolute, before the angel's Annunciation." (III q. 28 a. 4 "Whether the Mother of God took a vow of virginity?" ad 1)
    – Geremia
    Nov 28, 2019 at 3:06
  • @NigelJ "Christ's Mother did not do this [i.e., vow virginity unconditionally] until she was espoused to Joseph. After her espousals, however, by their common consent she took a vow of virginity together with her spouse." (III q. 28 a. 4 ad 3), who was also a virgin and not a widower. See also III q. 29 "Of the Espousals of the Mother of God" and Ford, S.J.'s Validity of Virginal Marriage.
    – Geremia
    Nov 28, 2019 at 3:13
  • 2
    @NigelJ Please stop hijacking a question about Catholicism with Sola Scriptura, a Protestant doctrine. It's entirely off topic. Also, my question is about whether the Church Fathers taught this. Not about 'is it true' or 'should we believe it' or 'is it 'taught' in the Bible.' Nov 28, 2019 at 15:09