Mary the woman of Revelation 12

In Catholic theology and devotion, Mary holds a unique and cherished place. Her role as the mother of Jesus and her exalted position as the Queen of Heaven are deeply revered by Catholics around the world. However, this veneration of Mary has sometimes been met with confusion or even hostility from certain Protestant perspectives. In this article, we aim to bridge the gap by delving into the reasons behind Catholic devotion to Mary and exploring the early Christian testimonies that shed light on her profound significance.

By examining biblical passages, such as Revelation 12, and considering the concept of the protoevangelium, we seek to provide a comprehensive understanding of Mary’s role in the divine plan of salvation. Furthermore, we will touch upon Martin Luther’s views on Mary and the varying perspectives within Protestantism today. Our goal is to foster dialogue and promote a deeper appreciation and respect for Mary’s place in Catholic faith while cultivating a spirit of unity among Christians.

Mary as the Woman of Revelation 12

  1. Revelation 12:1: “A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.” This vivid description aligns with Mary’s role as the mother of Jesus and her exalted position as the Queen of Heaven. The imagery of the woman being clothed with the sun suggests her radiance and glory, symbolizing her purity and holiness. The moon under her feet indicates her dominion over the darkness and the passing nature of earthly things. The crown of twelve stars represents her unique role as the mother of the twelve apostles and the queenly position she holds in the heavenly hierarchy.
  2. Revelation 12:2: “She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.” This verse points to Mary’s central role in the incarnation of Jesus. It emphasizes her unique privilege as the one chosen by God to conceive and bear the Son of God through the power of the Holy Spirit. The depiction of her crying out in pain during childbirth underscores the humanity of Jesus, as well as Mary’s participation in the redemptive suffering associated with bringing forth the Savior.
  3. Revelation 12:5: “She gave birth to a son, a male child, who ‘will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.‘” This verse clearly references Jesus as the son of the woman. Mary’s unique role as the mother of Jesus, the Messiah, is emphasized here. The imagery of ruling all nations with an iron scepter reflects Jesus’ authority and kingship, underscoring His divine nature and His role as the long-awaited Messiah.
  4. Revelation 12:17: “Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring.” The Catholic interpretation sees this verse as alluding to the ongoing spiritual battle between Satan and Mary’s spiritual children, the faithful followers of Christ. Mary, as the mother of Jesus, is intimately connected to His mission and the work of redemption. Satan’s enmity toward Mary and her offspring symbolizes the spiritual warfare faced by believers who strive to remain faithful to Christ. Mary is regarded as the spiritual mother of all Christians, interceding for them and offering protection against the attacks of the enemy.

These verses, when considered in light of Catholic tradition and teachings, support the interpretation that the woman in Revelation 12 represents Mary and her unique role in the divine plan of salvation.

Regarding other interpretations, one alternative view suggests that the woman in Revelation 12 represents the nation of Israel. This interpretation sees the woman as a symbol of the Jewish people, giving birth to the Messiah and facing persecution from Satan.

However, this interpretation does not adequately explain some key details, such as the woman’s exalted status, her association with heavenly imagery, and the spiritual offspring mentioned. Mary, on the other hand, fits perfectly into these elements and aligns with the Catholic understanding of her role as the Mother of God and the spiritual mother of all believers.


The concept of “protoevangelium” refers to the first proclamation of the Gospel or the initial promise of salvation in the Bible. It can be found in Genesis 3:15, shortly after Adam and Eve’s disobedience and the fall of humanity. In this verse, God addresses the serpent and declares a future victory over evil:

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

This verse contains the protoevangelium. It carries several key elements:

  1. Enmity between the serpent and the woman: The verse establishes a conflict between the serpent (representing Satan) and the woman (symbolizing humanity).
  2. Offspring of the woman: It refers to the descendants of the woman, implying a future generation.
  3. Striking the heel and crushing the head: This imagery suggests a temporary wound inflicted on the offspring of the woman (Jesus) by the serpent, followed by the ultimate victory of the offspring over the serpent (defeating Satan).

The protoevangelium is understood as a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ’s redemptive work on the cross. It indicates that through a descendant of Eve, salvation and victory over sin and death will be achieved.

Examples of the protoevangelium’s significance can be seen throughout the Bible:

  1. Fulfillment in Jesus Christ: The New Testament portrays Jesus as the fulfillment of the protoevangelium. His sacrifice on the cross defeated Satan and accomplished salvation for humanity.
  2. Mary’s role: As the mother of Jesus, Mary is intimately connected to the protoevangelium. She is the woman who bears the Savior, and her obedience and cooperation with God’s plan contribute to the fulfillment of the promise.
  3. Typology: The protoevangelium establishes a pattern of promise and fulfillment in the Bible. It serves as a prototype for various prophetic and typological references to Jesus throughout the Old Testament, where individuals or events prefigure His coming and work of redemption.

Overall, the protoevangelium represents the initial hope given by God after the fall of humanity and sets the stage for the unfolding of God’s plan of salvation, ultimately realized in Jesus Christ.

Eve and Mary

Eve is often regarded as the mother of humankind in a literal sense. According to the creation account in the Book of Genesis, Eve was the first woman created by God and was given the responsibility of procreation. As Adam’s wife and companion, she became the mother of their children, who went on to populate the earth. In the other hand, it is important to note that in terms of spiritual significance and the role in salvation history, Mary, as the mother of Jesus, holds a unique and elevated position in Christian belief.

Eve and Mary are two prominent figures in the biblical narrative, each playing a significant role in the story of salvation. While Eve’s disobedience brought about the fall of humanity, Mary’s obedience ushered in the redemption and hope found in Jesus Christ. This comparison between Eve and Mary sheds light on their contrasting choices, the impact of their actions, and their roles in God’s plan for humanity’s salvation. By examining their lives, we can gain a deeper understanding of the profound significance of Mary’s role as the New Eve and her pivotal place in the Christian faith.

Biblical support

  1. Genesis 3:15: This verse (protoevangelium), speaks of the enmity between the serpent and the woman, as well as the woman’s offspring who will crush the serpent’s head. This is seen as a foreshadowing of Mary’s role in giving birth to Jesus, who defeats Satan.
  2. Isaiah 7:14: The prophecy of the virgin birth of Immanuel, which means “God with us,” is often associated with Mary and her role as the mother of Jesus.
  3. Luke 1:26-38: The Annunciation narrative in Luke’s Gospel describes the angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary, announcing that she will conceive and bear a son. This event closely parallels the imagery of the woman in Revelation 12 who is pregnant and gives birth to a male child.
  4. Luke 1:39-56: The Visitation account in Luke’s Gospel portrays Mary visiting her cousin Elizabeth, who greets her with the words, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Luke 1:42). This echoes the exalted status of the woman in Revelation 12.
  5. John 2:1-11: The wedding at Cana, where Mary intercedes for the couple and Jesus performs His first miracle, is seen as an example of Mary’s intercessory role, reflecting her participation in the ongoing battle with the dragon in Revelation 12.

These cross-references, among others, provide biblical support for the Catholic interpretation of Mary as the woman in Revelation 12. They help to establish a continuity between the Old Testament prophecies, the Gospel narratives, and the apocalyptic imagery of the book of Revelation, pointing to Mary’s unique role in salvation history.

Early Christian Testimonies

Early Christians and Church Fathers expressed deep respect and reverence for Mary’s role. St. Irenaeus recognized her obedience in contrast to Eve’s disobedience, while St. Athanasius praised her as the dwelling place of God. St. Ephrem called her the Mother of God, and St. Jerome emphasized her victory over the devil. St. Augustine acknowledged her unique ability to conceive and give birth to the Light itself. These examples highlight the profound esteem early Christians held for Mary, acknowledging her pivotal role in salvation history and emphasizing her faithfulness and obedience.

Here are some quotes from early Church Fathers and other early Christian writings that support the idea of Mary as the woman in Revelation 12:

  1. St. Justin Martyr (c. 100-165):
    “But Eve was disobedient; for she did not obey when as yet she was a virgin. And even as she, having indeed a husband, Adam, but being nevertheless as yet a virgin (for in Paradise ‘they were both naked, and were not ashamed,’ inasmuch as they, having been created a short time previously, had no understanding of the procreation of children: for it was necessary that they should first come to adult age, and then multiply from that time onward), having become disobedient, was made the cause of death, both to herself and to the entire human race; so also did Mary, having a man betrothed [to her], and being nevertheless a virgin, by yielding obedience, become the cause of salvation, both to herself and the whole human race…” (Dialogue with Trypho, 100:5)
  2. Tertullian (c. 155-240):
    “For the Lord, too, was born in the flesh, and from a virgin, concealed in the flesh the Word of God, and exhibited in His flesh the Son of God. The virgin’s name was Mary.” (On the Flesh of Christ, 17:4)
  3. Origen (c. 184-253):
    “And, therefore, the holy Virgin, knowing that she conceived by the Holy Ghost, who is God, says, ‘My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour;’ and that He was regarded by her, that is by His handmaiden, that is by the church, from henceforth until the end of the world, as her Son, saying, ‘For He that is mighty hath done to me great things, and holy is His name.'” (Commentary on Luke, Book I, 34)
  4. St. Epiphanius of Salamis (c. 310/320-403):
    “And the twelve stars signify the twelve tribes of Israel, and also, perhaps, the twelve apostles of the Lord. The woman, therefore, who fled into the wilderness, is also the holy Church, and the man-child who was caught up to God is the Christ Himself.” (Panarion, 78:18)
  5. St. Jerome (c. 347-420):
    “The dragon persecutes the woman; the devil persecutes the Church. The woman who brought forth the man-child is certainly the Virgin Mary… The fled into the wilderness, so that she might escape the dragon, because in the wilderness Satan had no power.” (Commentary on the Book of Daniel, 7:26)

These quotes from early Christian writers demonstrate their understanding and interpretation of Mary as the woman in Revelation 12, emphasizing her role in salvation history and her significance as the mother of Jesus.

Martin Luther’s Views on Mary

Martin Luther held a high regard for Mary as the mother of Jesus, but his views on her evolved over time. In his earlier writings, Luther expressed deep reverence for Mary, emphasizing her faith and obedience. However, as the Protestant Reformation progressed, Luther became concerned about certain Catholic doctrines and practices associated with Mary, such as her perpetual virginity and intercessory role. Here are a few quotes that reflect Luther’s views on Mary:

  1. On Mary’s faith and obedience:
    “Mary was the most blessed virgin and mother of God and yet her personal happiness had no bearing on the matter. She saw and heard Christ her Son perform miracles, and yet she remained a poor, lowly, despised person in the eyes of the world… She stands before us as the supreme example of faith, love, and all virtues.” (Sermon on Luke 1:46-55)
  2. On Mary’s role as the mother of Jesus:
    “Mary is the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of all of us even though it was Christ alone who reposed on her knees… If He is ours, we ought to be in His situation, and if we are in His situation, we ought to be with Him and on His mother’s knees.” (Sermon on John 19:25-27)
  3. On the veneration of Mary:
    “The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart.” (Sermon on Luke 1:46-55)
  4. On Mary’s humility:
    “Mary is nothing for the sake of herself, but for the sake of Christ.” (Sermon on Luke 1:46-55)

It is worth noting that while Luther’s views on Mary evolved and he expressed concerns about certain Catholic doctrines, he never denied her unique role as the mother of Jesus. Some Protestants today may have a more reserved or limited view of Mary compared to Catholic and Orthodox traditions. This can be attributed to factors such as the concerns raised during the Protestant Reformation about certain Catholic doctrines associated with Mary, a focus on Scripture and a desire for explicit biblical support, a reaction against perceived excessive devotion or worship, a prioritization of Christ as the central figure of faith, and the influence of historical and cultural contexts.

Diego VelázquezCoronation of the Virgin 


As Catholics today, we earnestly pray for all Protestants to gain a better understanding and cease their hostility towards Mary. It is crucial for us to engage in dialogue and explain the reasons behind our devotion to Mary to our Protestant brothers and sisters who may have misconceptions about our faith. We want to make it clear that we recognize Mary’s vital role in God’s plan of salvation, her powerful intercession before her Son, and her exemplary humility and obedience that we, as Christians, seek to emulate. Our desire is to grow in holiness, fulfilling God’s purpose for His creation.

“But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16

By Soldier of Truth Publishing

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