Mary of Nazareth - Bible study ideas 

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Mary's story

The Gospel texts

Meditation for Parents

Young Bible People

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Mary of Nazareth

Mary
in modern movies

Nazareth Houses

Daily work

Bible Women Elizabeth

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Joseph

 


Ambrogio Bergognone, Virgin of the Veil

FAMOUS PAINTINGS 

  of the Birth of Christ
 


 


 


 

 

Activities for individuals or groups


Paintings of Mary and Jesus

     Mary and Jesus: paintings
has 40 wonderful pictures of the birth of Christ.  Choose your favorites.

Stage 1

Read the story at Mary of Nazareth

Stage 2

Go to the link at the bottom of the painting at right. Scroll through the paintings from first to last.

  • Which aspects of the story of the birth of Christ have been the most popular with artists?

  • Would this have been your choice?

  • Is there some other part of the story that appeals to you? Some particular quality you would like emphasised?

Artists paint what they want to paint, but they also paint with their audience in mind. Look at the paintings again. Who is the painting directed at? Why do you think this?

Stage 3

If you have chosen something different, ask yourself why this other incident appeals to you more than the scene favored by the artists. Spend some time quietly thinking about your response.


Discovering each gospel's portrayal of Mary

The Bible texts for this activity are at   Mary in the Scriptures

Mary as she is portrayed in 'The Passion of the Christ'

Mary as portrayed in 
'The Passion of the Christ'

Read the episodes about Mary of Nazareth in Mark’s gospel

  • What image of Mary do you receive from these episodes?

  • If this was the only information you had about Mary of Nazareth, what would be your impression of her?

  • What purpose might Mark have had when he wrote about Mary?

 

Madonna and Child, Fra Filippo, detail

Madonna and Child, 
Fra Filippo, detail

Read the episodes about Mary of Nazareth in Luke’s gospel

  • What image of Mary do you receive from the episodes in Luke’s gospel?

  • If this was the only information you had about Mary of Nazareth, what would be your impression of her?

  • What do you think Luke was trying to say about her and about Jesus?

  • How is Luke’s image of Mary different from Mark’s?

 

The Flight into Egypt, Caravaggio

The Flight into Egypt, Caravaggio

Read the episodes about Mary of Nazareth in Matthew’s gospel

  • What image of Mary do you receive from the episodes in Matthew’s gospel?

  • If this was the only information you had about Mary of Nazareth, what would your impression of her be?

  • What might have been Matthew’s purpose when he wrote these stories about Mary? What do you think he was trying to say?

  • What similarities are there between the three portrayals of Mary? What differences? Why might there have been these differences?

 

Mary as portrayed in the BBC 'Passion'

Mary as portrayed in the BBC 'Passion'

Read the episodes about Mary of Nazareth in John’s gospel

  • What image of Mary do you receive from the episodes in John’s gospel?

  • If this was the only information you had about Mary of Nazareth, what would your impression of her be?

  • What purpose might John have had when he wrote these stories about Mary? What do you think he was trying to tell us?


Movies with themes connected to Mary's story 

Can you name the movies? 

 

'Babette's Feast'. The food Babette offers these quarrelsome people calms them and makes them better people - a symbol of Eucharist'Starman'. The wise, innocent being from outer space survives with the help of a human woman

Can you see a connection with events in Mary's story?

'Random Harvest'. The heroine knows the identity of the man, but remains silent and allows him to find the truth himself'Paradise Road'. Women survive a terrible situation by supporting each other - as Mary and Elizabeth did

Answers HERE (see 'Mary of Nazareth'). 

Can you think of others?

 


Mary’s homeland

Draw up a rough map (see Map 8 on the link) showing the relative positions of Jerusalem and Nazareth, marking in the boundaries of the provinces Samaria, Galilee and Judea. Sea of Galilee

How far is it from Nazareth to Jerusalem? 

What sort of terrain would you go through, traveling from one to the other?

Identify a possible route that Mary might have taken in her journey from Nazareth in Galilee to ‘a Judean town in the hill country’ where Elizabeth lived. 

Research the world of Mary, and then describe

  • the type of country she would have seen as she traveled

  • the clothing and appearance of the people she traveled with.


A woman’s life

Interview your own mother, or an older female relative. You might compose your own list of questions for her, or ask some of the following:Pearl and gold coronet

1. What are the three events in your life that you remember most vividly?
2. Can you describe one of these events?
3. What things have you done that you are most proud of?
4. What did you find most difficult in your life?
5. Did you learn about Mary of Nazareth when you were at school?
6. How was Mary portrayed?
7. What part did Mary play in religious rituals that you were involved in?
8. Which of Mary’s qualities have you tried to imitate in your own life?
You could, if you wish, answer some of these questions yourself, and recall what you learnt about Mary in your early schooling. How does the material in this chapter compare with your previous ideas about Mary?


Poster of Mary’s life

Design symbols for each of the main events in Mary’s life. 

Think outside the box. Make sure the symbols relate to her story and not just to Jesus' life.

Express these symbols in a visual form, either by drawing or painting them, producing a collage or poster. 


Focus Questions for the gospel passages

The Annunciation, Henry Tanner

The Annunciation, Henry Tanner

1. What are the most interesting moments in Mary's story? 
 2. What is God's interaction with the main characters? What does this tell you about the narrator's image of God? Do you agree with this image?
4. What is happening on either side of the episodes in Mary's story, in the chapters before and after it? Does this help you understand what is happening?
5. The narrator/editor has chosen to tell some things and leave other things out. What has been left out of the story that you would like to know?
6. Are the characteristics and actions of the people in the story still present in the world? How is the story relevant to modern life, especially your own?


Famous Quotes

  • 'The angel said to her 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and name him Jesus. He will be called the Son of the Most High.' (Luke 1:30-31)

  • 'My soul glorifies the Lord.....' (1:46)

  • 'She laid him in a manger, because there was no place in the inn.' (2:7)

  • 'Did you not know I must be in my Father's house?' (2:49)

  • 'And his mother treasured all these things in her heart.' (2:51)

The Holy Family, Walking With God, Morgan Weistling

The Holy Family, Walking With God, 
Morgan Weistling

Each of these quotes relates to an episode in the birth or childhood of Jesus. Mary was intimately involved in each event.

List some key moments in your relationship with a child - perhaps your own, perhaps a child you know.

If you were writing about these key moments, what words would best describe them? You could include quotes from yourself or the child, or comments about the episode.

 

 

The Birth of Jesus, by Conrad von Soest, 1403

The Birth of Jesus, by Conrad von Soest, 1403

 

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