Chapter

The Protestant Virgin Mary

Freda Harcourt

in Victorians and the Virgin Mary

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print May 2008 | ISBN: 9780719077531
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700709 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719077531.003.0003
The Protestant Virgin Mary

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This chapter describes the contrasting portrait of the Protestant Virgin Mary as an ordinary and even erring woman whose maternal role was very limited. Catholics most often defended Marian devotion on religious grounds. They argued that, sanctioned by Scripture and tradition, it promoted a close relationship with God. This woman, who was a more negative figure than the woman envisioned by the reformers, also emerged beginning in the 1830s, partly as a response to the Catholic Virgin Mary. This Virgin Mary was an expression of Protestants' religious beliefs, particularly the emphasis on sola Scriptura and a direct relationship between the divine and the devout, yet it also had a polemical purpose. In promoting this figure and denouncing the Catholic Virgin Mary, Protestants could argue that Catholicism was a corrupt form of Christianity and that Protestantism was the biblical religion. In addition, by describing a woman whose motherhood gave her no special prerogatives, Protestants could counteract the popular perception that women were innately maternal and that this characteristic gave them an influence over the public sphere.

Keywords: Scripture; religious beliefs; Christianity; Catholicism; Protestantism; Catholic Virgin Mary

Chapter.  18003 words. 

Subjects: History of Religion

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