For over fifteen centuries in the world touched by Western civilization, Christ’s mother embodied the feminine ideal. During this time, the Virgin Mary’s dignity extended to all women.
She inspired the arts and literature. Most importantly, she inspired mothers who in turn inspired their children to honor and respect femininity. The age of chivalry was a product of the veneration of women who modeled themselves on the Mother of God.
Such women behaved and dressed modestly. Not only did their modesty conceal their physical charm, it also masked whatever blemishes nature may have imparted. Most of all, free of physical distraction men attuned to the spirit appreciated the vastly more important and enduring qualities of their women. They understood true beauty: the beauty of the soul.
Contrary to current mythology, there were plenty of strong women throughout those centuries. However, they were invariably feminine women, who, like their model, derived their power from their feminine identity.
Mary’s influence began to fade in the 16th century. Eventually in much of the West, she came to be regarded as just another woman. All women were depreciated in proportion to her waning influence.