According to religious tradition, Mary was an Israelite Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee and the mother of Jesus. Among her many other names and titles are the Virgin Mary or Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and Saint Mary in Western churches, Theotokos in Orthodox Christianity, and Maryam, mother of Isa in Islam. She is identified in the New Testament [Mt 1:16, 18-25] [Lk 1:26-56] [2:1-7] and in the Qur'an as the mother of Jesus through divine intervention. Christians hold her son Jesus to be Christ (i.e. the messiah) and God the Son Incarnate (see Trinitarian monotheism), whereas Muslims regard Jesus as the messiah and one of the most important prophets of God sent to mankind.
The canonical gospels of Matthew and Luke describe Mary as a virgin Traditionally, Christians believe that she conceived her son miraculously by the agency of the Holy Spirit. Muslims believe that she conceived by the command of God. This took place when she was already betrothed to Saint Joseph and was awaiting the concluding rite of marriage, the formal home-taking ceremony. She married Joseph and accompanied him to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. In keeping with Jewish custom, the betrothal would have taken place when she was around 12, and the birth of Jesus about a year later.
The New Testament begins its account of Mary's life with the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel appeared to her and announced her divine selection to be the mother of Jesus. Church tradition and the Gospel of James AD 145 state that her parents were an elderly couple, Saint Joachim and Saint Anne. The Bible records Mary's role in key events of the life of Jesus from his conception to his Ascension. Apocryphal writings tell of her subsequent death and bodily assumption into heaven.
Christians of the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Church, Anglican Communion, and Lutheran churches believe that Mary, as mother of Jesus, is the Mother of God and the Theotokos, literally "Bearer of God." Mary has been venerated since Early Christianity. Throughout the ages she has been a favorite subject in Christian art, music, and literature.
There is significant diversity in the Marian beliefs and devotional practices of major Christian traditions. The Catholic Church has a number of Marian dogmas, such as the Immaculate Conception of Mary the Perpetual Virginity of Mary, and the Assumption of Mary into Heaven. Catholics refer to her as Our Lady and venerate her as the Queen of Heaven and Mother of the Church; most Protestants do not share these beliefs. Many Protestants see a minimal role for Mary within Christianity, based on the brevity of biblical references.