Maria is a feminine given name. It is given in many languages influenced by Latin Christianity. It has its origin as the feminine form of the Roman name Marius (see Maria (gens)), and, after Christianity religion has spread across the Roman empire, it became the Latinised form of the name of Miriam - Mary, mother of Jesus. Maria (Μαρία) is a form of the name used in the New Testament, standing alongside Mariam Μαριάμ. It reflects the Syro-Aramaic name Maryam, which is in turn derived from the Biblical Hebrew name Miriam. As a result of their similarity and syncretism, the Latin original name Maria and the Hebrew-derived Maria combined to form a single name. The name is also sometimes used as a male (middle) name. This was historically the case in many Central European countries and still is the case in countries with strong Catholic traditions, where it signified patronage of the Virgin Mary (French-speakers often did the same with Marie). Besides Maria, Mother of Jesus (see Blessed Virgin Mary or Virgin Mary), there are three other women named Maria in the New Testament: Maria Magdalena and Maria Salomé, disciples of Jesus and Maria Betânia, sister of Lazarus.
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