It has become commonplace for scholars of Marian history to argue that Mary embodies aspects of God best symbolized in the female form of the mother. Historically, ample evidence for this transfer of divine imagery can be found in early Christian times, when the Mother of God took over the titles, shrines, iconography and power of the great mother goddess of the Mediterranean world. This “baptizing” of pagan imagery was a successful missionary strategy that allowed Christianity to attract peoples accustomed to female deities while still maintaining faith in God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Ever since, a tendency to transfer divine qualities to Mary has dogged the Marian tradition…..It makes no lasting sense to retain this as a permanent status quo, using Mary as a cover-up for defective notions of the divine. Rather, this female imagery should be allowed to travel back to its source and fertilize our imaginations and piety in relation to the mystery of God, who is beyond gender but is creator of both women and men in the divine image. The Australian theologian Patricia Fox, S.M., demonstrates this strategy in her address, “Mother of Mercy: A Title Reclaimed for God,” as do Julian of Norwich, John Paul I and myriad other Christians today who dare to name God in female form. Let God have her own maternal face.
Sister Elizabeth Johnson, “Mary of Nazareth: Friend of God and Prophet”