Historian says Virgin Mary made into 'normal mum' to widen Christianity's appeal

Historians in the News

Church leaders turned the Virgin Mary from being a "serious, official, imperial" figure into a normal "mum" to widen Christianity's appeal, according to a leading medieval historian.

Speaking at the Hay Festival in Wales, Mary Rubin, the author of Mother of God – A History of the Virgin Mary, said the transformation took place in the 11th and 12th century, with images of her knitting and cooking.

By comparison she was portrayed in the early church as "a figure of enormous solemnity and enormous majesty", as befitting the mother of God in human form.

But the church became so worried about people worshipping Mary rather than Christ that rosaries were introduced in the late middle ages to "create a way of praying to Mary that is more monitored," she added.

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