By LINDA ANDRADE RODRIGUES, Standard-Times staff writer

While Jesus is the major spiritual focus for people from a variety of spiritual backgrounds, his mother, Mary, is often regarded as a minor figure from the New Testament, with only Catholicism granting her divine status. Yet Mary has been an inspirational force for centuries, and the body of literature devoted to her paints the portrait of someone who, as a paragon of humility, righteousness and dedication, is a role model for solving a myriad of today’s problems. 

A new book, "Spiritual Writings of Mary," explores a collection of writings on Mary dating from the time of the Hebrew Bible prophecies to the present. Selections from the Hebrew Bible, New Testament and Qur’an, as well as sacred poems, prayers, hymns, songs and prose pieces illuminate the beauty and mystery surrounding Mary. 

"If we cannot follow her physical footsteps throughout the troubled Middle East, what we can imitate are her attitudes, which in essence pertain to faith and love," writes author Mary Ford-Grabowsky. "She was a dwelling place for God, and so are we."