Is Mary of Bethany a saint?

I heard a priest give a homily on EWTN, in which he stated that of Lazarus’s sisters, Martha is canonized by the Church while Mary is not. I thought this meant that she is canonized, but not recognized as St. Mary of Bethany, but by another name (as I have heard some people state she is actually St. Mary Magdalene). The priest continued that the sister of Martha and Mary Magdalene are often confused, but not the same person. If this is true, then why did the Church choose not to canonize Mary of Bethany?

Actually, neither of Lazarus’s sisters have been canonized. Canonization is a formal process of recognizing that particular individuals are in heaven and developed centuries after the period of the New Testament. New Testament heroes and heroines – including, by the way, St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary – are generally recognized as saints, but they have not undergone a formal process of canonization.

As for the question of the identity of Mary of Bethany: There is some disagreement among the Fathers of the Church over her identity. Greek Fathers generally conclude that Mary of Bethany, Mary Magdalene, and the female “sinner” (cf. Luke 7:36-50) were three different individuals (four, if the female “sinner” of whom John speaks is yet another woman; cf. John 8:3-11). Latin Fathers have usually considered them all to be one and the same person, the person we know today as St. Mary Magdalene. If the Latin Fathers are correct, then only a week separates the feast days of Mary Magdalene (July 22) and her sister Martha (July 29).

Recommended reading:

Mary Magdalene

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