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in Maria-sama ga Miteru (Maria Watches Over Us), every morning the girls pray to a statue of Maria. It's obvious that Maria is some sort of saint related to the school, but I am wondering: is Maria someone in real life or was she made up just for the anime?

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Maria is also known as Mary, or the holy virgin Mary. She is one of the key points in several streams of religion. The Maria in the series seems to be based on this.

According to the Bible, Mary (מרים; c. 18 BC – c. 41 AD), also known as Saint Mary or Virgin Mary, was a Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee. She is identified in the New Testament[Mt 1:16,18-25][Lk 1:26-56][2:1-7] as the mother of Jesus through divine intervention. Mary (Maryam) also has a revered position in Islam, where a whole chapter of the Qur'an is devoted to her. Christians hold her son Jesus to be Christ (i.e., the messiah) and God the Son Incarnate. By contrast, Muslims regard Jesus as one of the prophets of God sent to humanity; not as God himself nor the Son of God.

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Are you sure that the Maria in Marimite is "based on" the Virgin Mary? I thought that she was the Virgin Mary. –  senshin Apr 21 at 23:24
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Maria-sama ga Miteru (マリア様がみてる?, lit. The Virgin Mary is Watching or Maria Watches Over Us), often shortened to Marimite . From the Maria sama ga miteru wiki. –  Dimitri mx Apr 21 at 23:26

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