Akathist Hymn An Eastern praise hymn devoted to the Virgin Mary and comprised of 24stanzas. During Lent, the hymn often is spread over four Fridays, and then the entire hymn is sung on the fifth Friday.
Annunciation In Catholicism, the revelation to Mary by the angel Gabriel that she would conceive and bear a holy child who would be the son of God.
Apparition A ghostlike manifestation that appears unexpectedly. Apparitions of the Virgin Mary have been reported in almost every culture and era in the world.
Ascetic Monastic disciplines such as fasting, abstinence, prayer, and giving to the poor.
Assumption The Roman Catholic dogma (proclaimed in 1950) that teaches that the Virgin Mary was assumed into heaven. This feast is celebrated on August 15, which is the same day that the Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates the Dormition, or the “Falling Asleep” of the Mother of God.
Canonize A rigorous process by which the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches pronounce that a deceased person is holy and worthy of veneration.
Church Fathers Some of the earliest Christian teachers and writers who were viewed as extremely influential, although not always saintly, generally connected to the first five centuries of Christianity.
Coredemptrix A Roman Catholic belief that the Virgin Mary continues to participate in the salvation of humanity in a unique way through an ongoing ministry of intercession and intervention.
A trancelike state in which a person experiences a transcendent spiritual encounter. During ecstasy, visionaries are unaware of their surroundings, unresponsive to pain, and their bodies do not receive injuries. They tend to focus on a specific spot, and their faces may shine in reflection of what they are seeing. The word
The gifts of bread and wine that the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches believe are transformed into the body and blood of Christ. The word
Hallucination A strangely real perception of something that is not visible to others, usually seen by only one person, and most often a result of mental illness or drug use.
Immaculate Conception A Roman Catholic dogma that the Virgin Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin, or the sin that has been passed down to all humanity since Adam and Eve. This dogma was officially proclaimed by Pope Pius IX in 1854.
Laity A term used to denote a non-clergy person.
Mediatrix The Roman Catholic belief that the Virgin Mary continues to mediate on behalf of humanity.
Novena Novena is a Roman Catholic devotional practice related to saying a prayer for nine days straight in an attempt to win special favor. Novenas have often been devoted to the Virgin Mary.
Panagia The Eastern Orthodox term for the Virgin Mary's complete and total purity and holiness.
Rosary A string of beads used in prayer to the Virgin Mary, which is viewed as an opportunity to meditate on Scripture and to pray the Lord's Prayer and the Hail Mary Prayer. This is primarily a Roman Catholic devotional pratice.
Scapular Two strips of cloth that cross at the chest, a remnant from ecclesiastic garb that is worn for protection.
Stigmata A spiritual condition in which the hands of a holy person begin to bear the same marks that Jesus' did when he was crucified. This temporary gift may cause great pain, and the wounds sometimes bleed. Experienced by Saint Francis and others.
Theotokos An Eastern term for the Virgin Mary that can literally be translated as “The One who gave birth to the one who was God.”
Transubstantiation A Roman Catholic doctrine that teaches that the bread and wine of communion is transformed into the body and blood of Christ during the consecration. Within the Eastern Orthodox Church, it is believed that the bread and wine become body and blood in a spiritual sense while remaining bread and wine in the physical sense.
Veneration An expression of devotion and love toward a saint or a holy item.
Vision A state in which a person sees a person who is not visible to all, in which they enter into an ecstatic state where they are not able to feel pain or receive injuries.
Visionary A person who experiences visions. According to records from the accredited apparitions of the Virgin Mary, these visionaries are consistently shown to be of sound mental health, without tendencies toward suggestibility or altered perceptions of reality.