The Nativity of the Virgin Mary

September 8th is the feast day of the Nativity (birth) of the Virgin Mary.  In Greek Orthodox tradition, feast days are holy days that commemorate significant events related to the church.  They may mark the births and/or deaths of saints, or other momentous occasions.  This particular feast day marks the day that Orthodox Christians commemorate the birth of the Virgin Mary.  In Greek she is called the Theotokos, or Mother of God.

This is the miraculous myrrh streaming icon of Iveron.  More about this wondrous event here.

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There are a few notable places where the Eastern Orthodox Christian faith deviates from that of her close relative, the Catholic Church, along with other Christian denominations.  Some of those key points are centered around the Virgin Mary.  The Orthodox church strongly emphasizes that the Theotokos is not worshiped, but instead is venerated.  It may seem a small difference, but it is a significant one.  She is highly esteemed and is not considered to be just “any ol’ woman”, but at the same time is not put at the same level of the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  The Orthodox Church also does not hold that the Virgin Mary was immaculately conceived, which is a belief held by the Catholic Church.  Instead it was that her parents were told by the Archangel Gabriel that the long-time childless couple would be blessed with their own child, and that this child should be devoted to a life of serving God.

Her parents, Joachim and Anna, carried out that promise and it was due to Mary’s devotion to God and purity of heart that she was deemed a worthy “vessel” for the Son of God.  The rest, as they say, is history…

mary jesus





  1. Goodness! We do even celebrate this feast day . . . and I thought we had a lot already. The Feast of the Assumption is of course an important one. It is nice that there are still a few important feast days and holidays that have not been ruined like Christmas, Easter and of course, All Saint’s Day. I think that Halloween and Saint Patrick’s Day are the two most deplorable ‘holidays’ that have become mere excuses for drunkenness and debauchery and all sorts of other weird and creepy behavior that is completely irrelevant and contrary to the holidays that they supposedly evolved from. (People really should create their own separate holidays for such behavior.) At least Dia de los Muertos is celebrated here in California, in a weird but appropriate manner that is relevant to what the holiday is for.

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      1. I have to agree with you about most of your rant! Though I enjoy “holidays” like Halloween for the fun aspect of it (we do decorate and go trick-or-treating), it has turned from something fun and relatively innocent to one more night I have to worry about my loved ones on the road. It always bugs me that people make such a big deal out of days like Cinco de Mayo, which have almost no significance in its country of origin but has become another excuse for bad behavior.

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    1. In the Orthodox Church the idea of “immaculate conception” means that a child, in this case Christ, was conceived without sexual intercourse. For the birth of the Virgin Mary, she was a child granted to Joaquim and Anna, a couple that had been married many years and had been trying for a child without success. We believe that God granted them success in having Mary, but not that she is a child of God directly herself. The fact that God granted this couple a child and that she was to have her life devoted to serving God is what made her the appropriate “vessel” for his own Son. It was questions like these that led to the Great Schism between the Orthodox and Catholic church! 🙂

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      1. That’s what I thought you meant. As a Catholic, I believe in the Immaculate Conception of Mary. In December 1854, Pope Pius IX defined Immaculate Conception because there was some misunderstand. By the Grace of God, and in preparation of her chosen to be the mother of God, Mary was free from original sin, the sin of Adam and Eve. Catholic faith teaches that she was prepared as the Mother of God from the moment of her conception to be pure. This doesn’t mean a conception without sex, but rather a soul without any hint of sin. Do you believe in original sin as Catholics do?

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      2. We do, but in the case of Mary, though she was conceived in the “old fashioned way” in a sense, she was deemed worthy by her devotion to God. In the Orthodox faith, we believe that the only person truly free of sin was Christ, himself. I can see how it could be interpreted in the Catholic way, as well. I always find these differences to the tenets of the faith to be so interesting. However, I can say I do not support the idea that the Theotokos could have been anyone. It would have to have been someone truly special to be worthy of carrying, and caring for, the Son of God.

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      3. I can understand that. And I also agree Mary was truly special. Thank you for taking the time to share your faith and views with the rest of us. It’s nice to learn from others and to discover points of agreement rather than conflict. Have a great day!

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