Writing about Mary of Nazareth in a way that is inclusive enough of the range of doctrines, images and practices attaching to her two-thousand-year-old persona will bear only limited fruit. Furthermore, to explore Marian theology as a possible means of mediation between Catholic Church teaching and Christian feminist anthropology may seem unachievable. Nonetheless, the two-fold rationale for this book is to pursue just such a task. Firstly, it seeks to categorise the complex nature of some of the material in the long centuries of Marian tradition. It will suggest that the constant, eternal presence and figure of Mary for Catholic Christians may be subsumed into three broad Marian typologies namely Mary as Theatype, Mary as Christatype and Mary as Ecclesiatype. Each of these approaches attempts to encapsulate some of the diverse beliefs and images of the Marian mystery through the eyes of her followers past and present. To put it simply, Mary has a personal and communal story and one which many want to be part of from their own particular perspective.
Caroline Renehan is Head of Religious Studies at St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, Dublin