On Mary: Similarities & Differences between the Orthodox & the Catholics

I was wondering whether the Orthodox and the Catholic views on Our Lady are the same or not.

What are the similarities & the differences?

Do the doctrines on the Assumption, the Immaculate Conception and the Crowning in Heaven [Queen of Angels] exist in the Orthodox Church?

Do the Orthodox pray the Hail Mary and the Salve Regina?


A non authorative answer – I was once told by a priest that the Orthodox do not believe in the Assumption or immaculate conception as dogma. J.

Good one nice to read

The Orthodox do not accept the Immaculate Conception because they find it to be neither scriptural nor patristic. I am pretty sure they accept the Assumption, but as long as you believe that the Theotokos died a natural death. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong.

Do the Orthodox pray the Hail Mary and the Salve Regina?


Yes they do. The Salve Regina is actually a hymn written by St. Isaac of Syria. Their “Hail Mary” is a little bit different:

Rejoice, O Virgin, Mother of God, Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast born the saviour of our souls.

Hope that helps.

In Christ,

How is the “Dormition” defined?

“Now, if she died a natural death, how was she assumed into Heaven?”


“…However, in the OT, Enoc and Elijah were also assumed into Heaven alive. Why not the mother of God?”

Because she died.

So, she died and then her body disappeared? It’s that what the Assumption refers to?

Well, then…

Besides, the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception…

I know we share the same prayers, or at least that we would not disagree on praying to Mary with those words…whether a specific prayer is part of one tradition or not…

I have friends, particularly Evangelical Protestants, who practically ‘wince’ when I tell them that I pray the Hail Mary, Salve Regina, or Rosary…not because of traditions, but because the words and even the action of praying to/with her…to ask her to pray for us, is unacceptable to them.

I have heard of the theotokos…mother of God, right? So, it seems to me our understanding of Mary is the same…

The Orthodox do NOT deny the Bodily Assumption of Our Lady, but 15 August is called The Dormition (Falling asleep) of the Theotokos.

References to her body assumption (which is believed) occur in the texts for the post-feast, especially on 17 August.

The Roman Breviary office promulgated when Pius XII dogmatized the Assumption does refer to her bodily death. Lex orandi, lex credendi.

To say that an actual crown (as gets experienced on earth) was placed upon her head in heaven is really a bit superfluous. The Theotokos has passed beyond death and judgement. The Resurrection of the body has been anticipated in her case, and she lives totally in the World to Come, forever united with her Divine Son, and she constantly beholds with her glorified physical eyes the Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity in all fullness.

What else can possibly be granted to her? Isn’t this her true crown?

The immaculate conception, as dogmatized by Pius IX, Orthodoxy rejects (as well as the non-Calcedonian churches) for reasons that others will explain.

Hope this helps.

The Orthodox wording is as follows:

Rejoice, O Virgin Mother of God, Mary ,Full of Grace, the Lord is with Thee,
Blessed art Thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of Thy womb,
For Thou hast borne the Saviour of our souls.

Is the belief on the Theotokos prior to the schism?
Or did both East and West come to this knowledge independently?

Is this a dogma?

Do all Reformers disagree on this? Or did some, Anglicans/Lutherans for example, keep this belief?

Dear friend Sunflower: I think you would be helped much by reading history of Christian church. Your question is one of most basic to undestanding Christianity. You must know basic dogmas of Ecumenical Councils - this is teaching of fourth ecumenical council of Ephesus in 5th century. Very interesting story of Patriarch Nestorij of Konstantinopl who (such council never said what his heresy actually was) - seemed to deny this title Theotokos. So he is condemned. His followers become Nestorian church of Persian empire. Since this time and much before was recognized that Christ is God and Most Holy Maria is Theotokos. To argue otherwise might mean that Most Holy Virgin is Mother only of human nature and not person - if this is how to express such dilemna.

Many of your questions about Christianity can be found by reading any simple history of christian church - if you can find a translation of Bolotov or Posnov’s books - these are quite good.

Good luck in your discovery of history.

Yes, but it is not really about Mary of Nazareth. It is about Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus of Nazareth is fully human and fully Divine. Everyone realizes this is a paradox, it is not logical. As Christians we have to live with paradox.

Some Christians wanted to separate Jesus’ humanity from His divinity. There were a lot of reasons why, some of it has to do with “high Christology”, in other words emphasizing Our Lord’s divinity over His humanity.

Some other people (adoptionists) actually thought that Jesus became Son of God long after His birth, by adoption, when He was baptized in the Jordan. (Thus Mary would not be ‘God-bearer’.) Many likewise speculated that the divinity left Him before He died on the Cross (the “impassibility” of God) because God does not suffer death.

Some others (Arians) were convinced that Jesus was not divine at all, but completely human.

There was a concern that some people using the term 'Theo’-tokos might forget that Jesus was fully human too.

The church affirmed that Christ was begotten of the Father before all ages, outside of time. It also affirmed that He was born of Mary the virgin in time. We have an incarnational theology. We believe God did become man in Jesus, conceived of the Holy Ghost.

Thus, Mary of Nazareth did bear God. She is a hero figure…she said yes to the challenge. So we honor her for her decision and her role in the life of Jesus.

But the theology is all about Jesus. It was not a conciliar decision to elevate Mary of Nazareth to a new place, it was to affirm that Jesus is the Son of God, and there is no separation at any part of Jesus’ life from being divine.

The followers of Nestorios were more comfortable with calling her Christotokos, the bearer of Christ. It is not really a bad term, it’s actually true, but it leaves wiggle room for some people who may have personal reservations about just exactly what the precise relationship of Christ is with God.

So the Council of Ephesus decreed that the term Theotokos is appropriate for her, and we should praise her in that way. The council also deposed Nestorios, apparently for persecuting Christians who used the term.

A secondary problem is that the term, whatever it is, can be observed by some people more as a title of honor for her than a description of what she did for God. It wasn’t like she was being given a new place in salvation history, or a new job.

We praise her for what she did for God, and we ask for her prayers on our behalf, in the hope that her prayers on our behalf will be more efficacious than our own.

It is a hope.


It is dogma that she bore God in her womb.


Thanks for the specifics.

I remembered about the Dualism and the issues about Jesus’ fully human and fully divine natures, which obviously relate to Mary indirectly. I also remember about the Trinity, which I often bring about when biblical fundamentalists tell me they don’t believe in anything that is not specifically in the Bible…

However, I could not remember which council declared the theotokos…or if that was a dogma in itself.

I understand that the intention wasn’t to “elevate” Mary, just to acknowledge whatever place God had assigned to her and that she had accepted. And, not because of her, but because of what it means in regards to Jesus and our salvation.

Throughout the years, I have had discussions with friends of different Protestant denominations, all of whom so far have agreed with one another that though Mary was the mother of Jesus, she wasn’t the mother of God…
I couldn’t find that more contradictory…so, Jesus isn’t God?
Yes, but according to them, God isn’t Jesus… God is the Father, Son & HS…
Mary is just the mother of the second person, and only of his human nature, not the divine [though I see Jesus’ natures as indivisible].

Anyhow, I read on a post something about the theotokos, which I always believed in and never even noticed it was a Greek word!:confused:, just like the Kyrie Eleison prayer I say every day and every Sunday at Mass.

I was trying to see if there was a common dogma between East & West, which I guess does exist if this was established at the Council at Ephesus and prior to the schism.

Confusion on this issue is common. I remember a tour of an Orthodox church, about 5 years ago. In the course of it, someone asked what the main differences between Catholics and Orthodox were. The tour guide, who was also the wife of the Orthodox priest, included the Assumption in her answer, and went on to say that the Catholic dogma of the Assumption stated that Mary was assumed into heaven without dying, something the Orthodox could not accept. (The other difference she mentioned were the filioque, Papal Infallibility and Supremacy, and the Immaculate Conception. But I won’t go into those.)

I recall reading something by JPII, in which he responded to this kind of confusion, i.e. he stated very clearly that the dogma of the Assumption does not say that Mary didn’t die.

Roman Caholic dogma does not say one way or another. Correct?

The actual “sentence” that defines the dogma doesn’t say either way. However, the full document Munificentissimus Deus that contains the definition makes reference to her death several times.

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