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John Gallegos wrote:

Hi, guys —

There is a Scripture passage that indirectly implies that the Church is our Mother, however, I cannot find it. I remember many years ago reading this in the New Testament, however, I do not remember the citation.

  • Can you help me find the Scriptural reference for this?

Thank you,


  { Can you help me find the Scriptural reference for ' the Church being our Mother ' ? }

Mike replied:

Dear John,

I couldn't find any New Testament passage that indirectly implies that the Church is our Mother. Any passage(s) containing these words in the Bible won't reflect an interpretation of the Church as our Mother.

Apart from the Scriptures, the phrase you are looking for can be found in the Oral Tradition of the Church. (Matthew 23:1-3, Mark 13:31, Mark 16:15, Luke 10:16, John 21:25, Acts 20:35, Romans 10:17, 1 Corinthians 11:2, 1 Corinthians 15:1-2, 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 2 Timothy 1:13, 2 Timothy 2:2, 2 Peter 1:20, 1 Peter 1:25, 2 Peter 3:15-16) and can be found in this dogmatic document from Vatican II:

I also found an article from the Vatican newspaper that you may find interesting:

Under Mother Church Wikipedia states, and we would agree:

Catholic Church

This term is most often used among Roman Catholics as Holy Mother Church. The Church is considered to be a mother to her members because she is the Bride of Christ, and all other churches have had their origin or derived from her. Another term used in the Catechism is the title "Mater et Magistra" (Mother and Teacher). Pope John XXIII made this the title of his encyclical celebrating the seventieth year after Leo XIII's ground breaking social encyclical, explaining that in this Mother and Teacher all nations should find ... their own completeness in a higher order of living.

Pope Francis said:

The Church is our mother. She is our Holy Mother Church that is generated through our Baptism, makes us grow up in her community and has that motherly attitude, of meekness and goodness: Our Mother Mary and our Mother Church know how to caress their children and show tenderness. To think of the Church without that motherly feeling is to think of a rigid association, an association without human warmth, an orphan.

That's the best I can do. My colleagues may have more to add.


One of our colleagues, Andrew replied:

Dear John:

It's natural to see the Church as a mother, since the people of Israel were also symbolized, in the Old Testament, as a woman and mother, for example in Zechariah 9:9, Isaiah 1:8, and Isaiah 66:8-12.

The Church is the new people of God, so it is fitting that the images related to the Old Covenant people of God would also be applied to the Church.

The book of Revelation, in particular, provides a point of continuity for the mother-image from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. Revelation Chapter 12 depicts a woman adorned with twelve stars (for the twelve tribes of Israel), clothed with the sun; she flees to the desert and gives birth to a Son who will be King of Heaven and Earth.

Revelation ends with John's vision of the heavenly Jerusalem, as a bride, the wife of the Lamb (Revelation 21:9).

So yes, the image of the Church as a mother has connections with Old and New Testament sources, and many of the images associated with the Church in Scripture can also be applied particularly to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

— Andrew

Eric replied:

Hi, John —

In what Andrew said, I would highlight from Revelation 12, Revelation 12:17:

17 and the dragon went to make war against her and the rest of her offspring, those who obey the commandments of Jesus, . . .

as the link between Mary and the Church, on one hand, and the People of God on the other.

Eric Ewanco

Paul replied:


Moderns have lost the sense that masculine and feminine principles permeate the universe, reflecting God. Some languages have retained the notion, with masculine and feminine nouns.

The cosmos, the Earth, Eve, Israel, Mary, the Church, are all receptive objects of love, through which life is made.


Please report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
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