Who was the young Jewish girl from a small town in Galilee who became the mother of Jesus? Over the centuries the figure of Mary of Nazareth, an object of unmatched worship and devotion, has been interpreted and shaped in ways that differ appreciably from the faint traces found in the canonical gospels. Her image has been of central importance in both Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy, as well as, perhaps surprisingly, in the Islamic world, and it has influenced art and spirituality across the ages. Drawing on gospel, apocryphal writings, dogmas, cults and apparitions, this book explores the history of Mary, delves into her myth, overcomes taboos which still surround her name, and highlights the strong subversive streak of this extraordinary woman brimming with humanity.
Adriana Valerio teaches History of Christianity and Churches at the Federico II University in Naples and currently heads the international, interfaith “The Bible and Women” project.