Do we know Mary's age?


In recent years preachers and writers have been pushing back the age of Mary when she gave birth; for instance, they say we "now know" that Mary would have been only 17, or lately I am hearing only 14.This conjecture is based on research that perhaps, in the Mideast about 19 to 21 centuries ago, many girls were typically betrothed earlier than we had thought. No researcher has narrowed the demographic data to Nazareth, to around 1 B. C. Even if they had, that would only give the average, we have no idea if this particular girl was at the average age of betrothal for her time and place. We don't know Mary's age more exactly than we used to, no birth certificate has emerged.
I get suspicious when I hear the words we "now know", when people pretend new research proves something that it really does not. It may be with good intentions, that a very young Mary seems a little more courageous, and the prolife connection. Nothing about a younger Mary contradicts Catholic Faith. But people are also using the "we now know" gimmick to "prove" other things, that Mary Magdalen was a bishop, or many other agendas. I fully expect new research to show that we "now know" the early Church blessed gay unions. The fact that research has made genuine discoveries about the context of the Bible does not mean we should suspend our common sense when we hear other conjectures.


I've only heard she was 14 ever since I was a child.


She was placed in part of the Temple when she was three years old and left when she was twelve years old (since her period would make her unclean under the Law of Moses). St Joseph was chosen to be her protecter after her exit from the Temple grounds. "And the priest said to Joseph, Thou hast been chosen by lot to take into thy keeping the virgin of the Lord." This is part of the Tradition of the Eastern Church.



I’ve always heard 14 too. :slight_smile:


Since God didn't see fit to give us that information in Scripture, I would say it doesn't matter. Any guess is little more than speculation, and the story of her being in the Temple until she was 12 comes from a work that was written hundreds of years after Jesus had returned to Heaven, so I fail to see why that would be considered authoritative in any way. I don't believe this information can be found among the writings of the ECF's (though, admittedly, I could be wrong and would like correction if anyone can provide it). I would certainly consider the ECF's as more authoritative than the Protoevangelium of James.


Correct. We do not know Mary’s age when she gave birth.

What baffles me is…many say that after Jesus died, Mary lived with apostle John* for the rest of her days*…so it is puzzling to me why he would not have asked that detail from her (as well as many, many other detials) for when the gospels were written decades and decades later.

And as per your observation, we do not know Joseph’s age, either.
Many like to believe he was much, much older than Mary–but there is nothing in the bible written about that, either…and in the same way we cannot know Mary’s age, as you say, we can’t know his, either.

I dare say the gospel writers would not have made good modern-day reporters.
The first thing we are taught in journalism 101 is get years, dates, and ages for all the important events and major people!



When I saw the title of this thread -- 'do we know Mary's age?' -- my first thought was, "of course we do! 2000 years, give or take a decade!" :rotfl:


I've read that in non industrial societies girls tend to have their first period around 17.
And in the developed world, some girls are starting at 9!
I guess this has to do with better nutrition and exposure to estrogen- like chemicals in our tecnologicial world.

So If he story about the Temple has any credence, Mary might have been older than 14.
17 is a good age, in terms of biology, to have a first child.


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