The third chapter of the Book of Genesis tells how, after the sin of Adam and Eve, which caused the downfall of the human race, God told Satan, symbolised by a serpent, that he would be defeated through "The Woman" and her offspring:

"I will put enmity between you and the Woman, and between your seed and her seed - he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel" (Gen. 3, 15).

The Fathers, the great Christian writers of the first four centuries, saw in this a reference to Mary and her son. The "seed," or offspring, of the woman will crush the head of the Serpent. The Serpent will wound him in his lowest part, his heel. Jesus, in his death and resurrection, crushed Satan, yet in the process he was wounded in his human nature.

The Fathers called Mary "The second Eve," and Christ "The second Adam." Death and sin came to humanity through Eve, life and salvation through Mary, whose son saved the world. "Death through Eve, life through Mary" became almost a proverb.