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In Defense of the Theotókos

I see this joyful assembly of holy bishops who, at the invitation of the blessed Mother of God, Mary ever Virgin, have gathered here with enthusiasm. And although I am sad, the presence of these holy Fathers fills me with joy. Among us is fulfilled the sweet words of the psalmist David: “Behold how good and sweet it is, brethren, to dwell together in unity.”

Hail Mary Theotókos, venerable treasure of the whole world, star who never sets, crown of virginity, scepter of the orthodox law, indestructible Mother and Virgin, for the sake of the one who is called “blessed” in the holy Gospels, the one who “comes in the name of the Lord.”

We hail you, who held in your virginal womb him whom the heavens cannot contain; it is you through whom the Holy Trinity is glorified and adored throughout the earth; through whom the heavens exult; through whom the angels and archangels rejoice; through whom the demons are put to flight; through whom the tempter, the devil, is cast down from heaven; through whom the fallen creature is raised up to heaven; through whom that all creation, once imprisoned by idolatry, has reached knowledge of the truth; through whom holy baptism has come to believers, with “oil of gladness”; through whom churches have been founded throughout the world; through whom nations are brought to repentance.

What more shall I say? It is through you the light of the only-begotten Son of God has shone “for those who dwelt in darkness and in the shadow of death”; it is through you that the prophets proclaimed the future, that the apostles preach salvation to the nations, that the dead are raised and the kings reign, in the name of the Trinity.

Is there a single person who can worthily sing the praises of Mary? She is both mother and virgin. What a marvel! A marvel which overwhelms me! Who has ever heard it said that the builder was prevented from dwelling in the temple which he himself built? Should one criticize him who gave his servant the title of mother?

Thus the whole world rejoices. May it be given us to worship and adore the unity, to worship and adore the indivisible Trinity, by singing the praises of Mary ever virgin, that is the holy church, and those of her Son and immaculate Spouse, to whom be glory for ever and ever, Amen.

St. Cyril of Alexandria, homily given at the Council of Ephesus, June 22, 431.

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