The Theotokos
The Theotokos, also known as the Virgin Mary or Mother of God, is the mother or Jesus, the Son of God. She is known as the "Virgin Mary" because Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and she remained a virgin even after giving birth. The term "Theotokos" (Θεοτοκος) is Greek for "God-bearer". At the same time, the Theotokos is not the Mother of God in an eternal sense, that is, God is without a beginning and without an end, and was not born.

The Theotokos is honored in the Orthodox Church as the "Saint of Saints". Protestant churches usually do not honor the Theotokos to this extent, referring to her simply as "Saint Mary".

Joachim and Anna, Mary's parents, had been barren all their lives, and had been praying for a child. In answer to their prayers, they gave birth to Mary. Mary was presented into the Jewish temple at an early age. The Angel Gabriel appeared to her and told her that she was to bear the Son of God, and she consented. She was betrothed to Joseph; however, Mary and Joseph did not have marital relations. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit; thus, Mary was always a virgin.

The Roman Catholic Church holds the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, which states that Mary was conceived without original sin. This teaching was made a dogma (something that all Roman Catholics must believe) on December 8, 1854 by Pope Pius IX. The Orthodox Church does not hold this doctrine; rather, it states that Mary was born with original sin, but was cleansed from sin at the Annunciation, when she said to the angel Gabriel, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word". By attempting to honor the Theotokos almost to the point of divinity, the Immaculate Conception takes away honor from God by implying that the Incarnation of Jesus was not the only time that a person was born without sin. Notable theologians of the Western Church, including St. Thomas Aquinas, opposed this teaching.
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