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Titles and Symbols of the Holy Virgin Mary

1. The Queen who is by the Right Side of The King. In this, we mention the words of the psalm “At your hand standsthe queen in gold from Ophir” (Ps. 45:9). That is why, in her icon, she isportrayed at the right hand of the Christ our Lord. And we say about herin the divine mass “the Lady and the Queen of us all”

2. Our Mother the Holy Virgin. When the Christ our Lord was on the Cross, He said about that tohis disciple the beloved saint John: “Behold your mother” (John 19:27).

3. The Ladder of Jacob. That ladder which “was set up on the earth, and its top reached toheaven” (Gen. 28:12). That is the symbol of The Virgin who, by hergiving birth to Christ, made the inhabitants of the earth reach to heaven.

4. The Bride. Because she is the true bride of the Lord of glory. The word of the

Lord in the psalm was realized in her: “Listen, O daughter consider and incline your ear; forget your own people also, and your father’s house; so the King will greatly desire your beauty; because He is your Lord, worship Him” (Ps. 45:10- 11). That is why she was called the friend of Solomon, who is the virgin of the Song of Songs. It was said of her in the same psalm: “The royal daughter is all glorious within the palace; her clothing is woven with gold. She shall be brought to the king in robes of many colors” (Ps. 45:13-14).

5. The Beautiful Dove: This is in remembrance of the beautiful dove that carried to our father Noah an olive treebranch, as a symbol of peace, bringing to him the good newsof the deliverance from the waters of the flood. (Gen. 8:11). Withthis surname, the priest burns incense in front of her icon when he goesout of the sanctuary and says: “Hail to you, O Virgin Mary, the beautifuldove”.  The Virgin is compared to the dove in her simplicity and her purityand the action of the Holy Spirit in her. She resembles the dove whichbrought the good news of the deliverance after the flood, because shebrought the good news of the deliverance by Christ.

6. The Cloud because of her height on the one hand, and because the prophecyof her coming to Egypt, compared her in this manner. It was mentionedabout this in the book of the prophet Isaiah:“The burden against Egypt. Behold, the Lord rides on a swift cloud,and will come into Egypt; the idols of Egypt will totter at His presence,and the heart of Egypt will melt in its midst” (Is. 19:1). The expression“cloud” is a symbol of the Lord who will come upon the clouds.(Matt. 16:27).

7. Theotokos. The Mother of God. This surname has been called upon her

by the sacred ecumenical council of Ephesus in 431 AD. Saint Cyril

the Great insisted on that surname in his response to Nestorius.  Saint Elizabeth addressed her with that surname “the mother of my Lord” (Luke 1:43).

8. The Golden Censer.  We call her }sour/ n~noub that is the golden censer in Coptic; andsometimes the censer of Aaron.  As for the fire which it containsinside her, coal in it symbolizes the human nature of Christ, and firesymbolizes His divine nature, as it has been said in the Holy Bible: “ourGod is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29).  The censer symbolizes the womb of The Virgin where divinity wasunited with humanity. The censer being of gold, that points to thegreatness and the purity of The Virgin.

9. The Second Heaven. As heaven is the abode of God, so The Virgin Marywas an abode of God during the sacred pregnancy.

10. The City of God.  The prophecy in the psalm is realized in her: “Glorious thingsare spoken of you, O city of God” (Ps 87:3). Or what was said of her “thecity of the great King”, or certain prophecies which were said about

Jerusalem, are realized in her or Zion as it was also said in the psalm: “And of Zion it will be said, “This one and that one were born in her; and the most High Himself shall establish her” (Ps. 87:5).

11. The Vine where was Found the Cluster of Life.  That is Christ. The Church asks for her intercession with thatsurname in the prayer of the third hour, saying to her: “O mother of God,you are the true vine who bears the cluster of life”

12. The mother of the true light. Considering that it has been said ofthe Christ our Lord, that He is “the true Light which gives light to everyman coming into the world” (John 1:9).

13. The Golden Lamp. She bearsthe Light. And also: “the mother of the Holy One”, considering that theangel, when he announced her with the birth of Christ, said to her: “also,that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God”(Luke 1:35).

14. The Mother of the Savior.  The Christ our Lord is theSavior of the world: “and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will saveHis people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).

15. The Burning Bush (Exodus 3:2). We say in the song: “The bush which the prophet Moses saw inthe desert is the symbol of the mother of Light, blessed be she. She hascarried the fire of divinity in her womb, without being touched by anyharm”. It was said of the Lord that He is “a consuming fire” (Heb 12:29)to which the fire which is burning inside the bush, is a symbol, and thebush symbolizes The Virgin.

16. The Ark of the Covenant.  This ark was made of acacia wood that cannot decay and was covered with gold from inside and outside (Ex. 25:10, 22), as asymbol of the purity and the greatness of The Virgin. It also symbolizedthe things which were inside the ark that were a symbol of the Christ ourLord.There was kept “the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod thatbudded, and the tablets of the covenant” (as a symbol of the incarnatedWord of God).

17. The Pot of the Manna.  The Manna was a symbol of the Christ our Lord, as beingthe Bread of Life who came down from heaven, everybody who eats fromHim lives by Him, that is also the Bread of Life (John 6: 32,48,49). Sincethe Lord Christ is compared to the Manna, so it is possible to compare theVirgin to the Pot of the Manna, who carried this celestial Bread inside her.

18. The rod of Aaron which budded.  She miraculously sprouted and carried the buds of life,(Num.17:6 -8); although a rod has of course no life in it that can produceblossoms and yield fruit. This symbolizes the virginity of The Virgin whocould not sprout or produce posterity; but she gave birth through amiracle. This description is mentioned in the Midnight Psalmody of the Sunday Theotokia.

19. The Tabernacle of Meeting (the Dome of Moses). The tabernacle of meeting was the place upon which The Lordused to come, and The Virgin is she upon whom The Lord came. Godmanifested his love for his people in the two cases. That is what we say inthe Holy Psalmody Book “You have been compared, OVirgin Mary, to the tabernacle which Moses made on the mountain ofSinai, where God was inside”.

20. The Eastern Gate. That which the prophet Ezekiel saw, and of which the Lordsaid: “This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shallenter by it, because the Lord God of Israel has entered by it; therefore itshall be shut” (Ez. 44: 1 -2). The prophet saw the glory of the Lord at thisgate which is in the East, and the house was filled with it (Ez. 43: 2,4,5).That symbolizes the virginity of the Virgin who was from thecountries of the East; and how this virginity remained sealed.

21. The Gate of Life: It was said about our Lady the Virgin in the book of Ezekiel: “Asfor the prince, because he is the prince, he may sit in it to eat bread beforethe Lord; he shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gateway, and goout the same way” (Ez. 44:3).Since the Lord is the Life, then she is the Gate of the Life. The Lordsaid: “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). That is why theVirgin is the gate of the Life, that gate out of which the Lord came out,granting life to all those who believe in Him.  It is not astonishing that we surname the Virgin “the Gate”, becausethe Church also was surnamed “the Gate”. Our father Jacob said aboutBethel: “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house ofGod, and this is the gate of heaven!” (Gen. 28:17).

22. The Holiest of All.  As the chief priest entered once a year, to makeatonement for all the people. The Lord of glory came once inside the Virgin Mary for the redemption of the entire world.


Posted by Fr. Moses Samaan

August 6, 2009