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Virgin Mary:   Mary, a young Jewish girl (probably around 14 years old) from Nazareth in Galilee, was engaged to a carpenter named Joseph, of the House of David. God chose her, out of all humanity, to be the willing agent whereby Jesus Christ was made man for us, for the salvation by his blood of all of us sinners. At the annunciation, Gabriel (the archangel) told Mary of her awesome "mission impossible" - should she choose to accept it [Luke 1:26-38]. And, full of grace, accept it she did with the life-changing words: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word."

It is fair to say that Mary's position within the church has been fraught with difficulty and controversy. Accusations of idolotry, claims of perpetual virginity (despite blatant gospel references to Jesus' siblings) and such like, have dogged her post-immaculate conception career. Nevertheless, it is undeniably true that she played a key role in the incarnation and thus our salvation, too.

St. Iraneous said of her: "Being obedient she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race. The knot of Eve's disobedience was untied by Mary's obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith."

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death ...

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