Was Mary aware of her sinlesses?


Was she?


I think not because she dared not ask the angel Gabriel during the annunciation…nevertheless, I don’t think it affects anything on her status in the Catholic Church…do you?


No, I was just wondering since on another forum someone asked “If Mary was sinless then why is it said the Holy Family sacrificed birds in Jerusalem? That’s only done to cleanse sins” and I was wondering that if Mary was unaware of her sinlessness in the first place it wouldn’t matter.


The was not a sin offering but rather a dedication.

It was the law of Israel that every first born child, if a boy, should be the Lord’s. They were not to be offered as a sacrifice, as was common among heathen people, and they were not all needed to serve, like Samuel, at the temple, for the Levites were appointed for that work; but the parents must confess that the children were the Lord’s and must pay the ransom money, five silver shekels, as large as fifty cent pieces. (Numbers 18:16)

On some day (at least forty days after the birth of a boy, or at least eighty days after the birth of a girl) the mother must come from her home and bring to the Lord an offering of a lamb and a turtledove or a young pigeon. “And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons.” (Leviticus 12) The mother gave these offerings to the priest at the gate in the temple courts. They were signs of the innocent, humble, grateful feeling she should have in being blessed by the Lord with a little child.

The Holy Family was of very modest means and poor. So Mary ransomed back Her son by offering a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons as the mother’s offerings - an acceptable offering for the poor.



Sorry but you are incorrect on this. It was a sin offering as outlined in Leviticus 12:

6 “‘And when the days of her purifying are completed, whether for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting a lamb a year old for a burnt offering, and a pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering, 7 and he shall offer it before the Lord and make atonement for her. Then she shall be clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, either male or female.

A person who came in contact with blood was considered defiled and in need of a sin offering to be cleansed. This could only be done after the purification period and was completed at the Temple. The pigeon or turtledove was not for a ransom it was for the sin offering.


Due to Our Heavenly Mothers humility and humbleness, I feel her desire was for others and no thoughts of herself.

When the Archangel spoke to her about her favor with God, she probably realized the impact of her sinless life and the role she would have as becoming the Mother of Our Savior Jesus.


Even if she was aware of it, she undoubtedly did not credit herself. I always wondered just how much she was aware of before it happened, but that question is only brought about because of my annoyance with the song “Mary Did You Know?”


I think Mary knew she was different, but probably didn’t really put it all together until she heard Elizabeth say: “And who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me.” That declaration has the full force of the Law of Moses behind it–the Levitical prescriptions about the sacredness of things set aside for the Temple and of people set aside to serve the Lord in the Temple, and the sacred character of the Temple itself and the Holy of Holies.

For Mary replied: “The Lord has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” In this sentence she recognizes the greatness of the Incarnation and her sacred position as set apart for God and for him alone. Only he whose name is holy has possession of her and is dwelling in her in a way no other human being had ever experienced or would ever experience again. And for that, it was right, proper, and fitting that she be sinless. And at that moment I believe she realized this and the implications of it, as she goes on to innumerate in the rest of her Magnificat.


Just as Jesus was baptised to fulfill God’s plan, I do not see Mary neglecting her responsibilities as a Jew under any circumstances.

It would be impossible to read our Blessed Mother’s mind and know the answer to this question.


This is not a moral sin.

“‘And when the days of her purifying are completed, whether for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting a lamb a year old for a burnt offering, and a pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering, 7 and he shall offer it before the Lord and make atonement for her. Then **she shall be clean from the flow of her blood. **This is the law for her who bears a child, either male or female.

In the Mosaic law a woman was considered unclean after she gave birth and during her menstrual cycle. This is not the same kind of sin of which moral theology speaks.

The word “sin” in ancient Aramaic was used to mean something that is unclean or something that is against the law of God. In Orthodox Judaism there are rules about maintaining everything Kosher. This is the term that was used then.

When the early Church translated the scriputures into Greek, there is no word for Kosher. The closest term would be unclean or sin, they were used interchangeably, but do not mean the same thing.

For example, this week, the Jewish community celebrates Passover. Among Orthodox Jews everything must be Kosher, free of impurities. If you stop and think abou it, how can food be sinful? Yet, Orthodox Jews burn all leftover food before Passover begins, because it is sinful, meaning unclean.

Mary and Joseph were Orthodox Jews. They observed the law of Moses, even though they were not sinful people. They did not observe it in atonement for sin. This was not the purpose of the offering. It was a symbol of being clean, after having given birth.

This custom was followed by Christians until after the Middle Ages. Women did not have sexual intercourse for 40 days, because they were considered unclean. The early Christian community took the numbe 40 from the Jews sojourn in the desert, Jesus retreat in the desert, and Jesus’ stay on Earth after his resurrection.

Obviously, giving birth is not a sin. However, in the mind of Orthodox Jews and early Christians, it was considered unsaavory. Even to this day, many cultures still hide women after they give birth, for example Muslims.

Hispanic Catholics continued this practice util the 1960s. They never baptized their children until after the 40th day, nor did the husband have intercourse with his wife, because she had to be cleansed.

In many cultures, not just Jewish culture, contact wiht human blood is considered to be something dirty. This is not the same as inmoral. Jehovah Witnesses to this day do not allow transfusions, because it implies contact with the blood of another animal, in this case human.

As you can see, the entire Law was to announce to the world that her time of confinement and purification was complete and she was ready to resume her wifely duties in the bedroom. It had nothing to do with morality. What was immoral was not to observe the required preriod of sexual abstinence.

In ancient Judaism, this is introduced to protect people from disease, just as they introduced Kosher food. It especially protected the husband from coming into contact with residue blood in his wife’s vagina.

They did not have the means that we have today for sanitizing, nor did they have the understanding the the fluids discharge during labour and delivery are actually nutrients, not garbage.

They wanted to present themselves pure before the Lord. Logically, they were going to wait until any sign of what they thought was dirty was gone from their bodies. This kind of uncleanliness was considered sin as in impure, not immoral. They understood that there was nothing immoral about giving birth. But they did not know that there was nothing impure about vaginal fluids and bleeding during labour and the first few days after childbirth.

I’m sure that there are many modern men and women, even in our country, who are still grossed out at the idea of having sex with their wives while she’s having vaginal discharge or menstruating. Just because one considered it unclean, does not mean that its the same as immoral.

Therefore, Mary was not atoning for any immorality. She was following the Mosaic Law which required that all Orthodox Jews be Kosher.

The sacrifice was a symbol of reconsecrating oneself to God. Mary had not moral reason for reconsecrating herself to God. She observe the Law because she was an Orthodox Jew.

JR :slight_smile:


What you say is true, and what NDfan says is true as well.

The sacrifice Mary made was a sin offering according to the Law—a sin offering, for which the priest would make atonement for the sinner (vv7, 8). Don’t take away from the word of the law (Dt 4:2, 12:32; Pro 30:6).

At the end of the period of uncleanness, normal social and religious intercourse was resumed, after sacrifices which effected both atonement and cleansing (read Lev 12 carefully).

The atonement was for the general sinfulness that any worshipper must be forgiven for when coming to God, not, as you have noted, because of any sin attaching to childbirth in itself.


**Though Isaiah 64 is interesting here: it describes alienation from God, by using the imagery of a menstruous cloth. **

Ceremonially, she would have been unclean. Originally, the distinction between ceremonial uncleanness & the ethical uncleanness of sin was not made. So in a sense**, she was not free of sin.
*]**Isa 64:1 O that thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at thy presence-- **
*]**Isa 64:2 as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil–to make thy name known to thy adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at thy presence! **
*]*Isa 64:3 When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains quaked at thy presence. **
]Isa 64:4 From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides thee, who works for those who wait for him. **
*]Isa 64:5 Thou meetest him that joyfully works righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways. Behold, thou wast angry, and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved?
Isa 64:6
We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.[/LIST]


I think not, since she was puzzled by the angel’s greeting, “Full of Grace”. The angel did not greet her by name, but by this title. It is likely that she had no clue what God had in store for her (as it is now) but it was clear that all generations would call her blessed (except the present generation of Fundamentalists, who apparently feel it is ok to disregard this scripture) and that God had done “Great Things” for her.

Here is an interesting passage from a Protestant commentary:

Luke 2:24

Though neither Mary nor her son needed any of these purifications, for she was immaculate, and He was the Holy One, yet, had she not gone through the days of purification according to the law, she could not have appeared in the public worship of the Most High, and would have been considered as an apostate from the faith of the Israel of God; and had not He been circumcised and publicly presented in the temple, he could not have been permitted to enter either synagogue or temple, and no Jew would have heard him preach, or had any intercourse or connection with him. These reasons are sufficient to account for the purification of the holy virgin, and for the circumcision of the most holy Jesus. (from Adam Clarke’s Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1996 by Biblesoft)

As Jesus said when He was baptized, it was necessary to fulfill all rightousness. Jesus was sent first to the Jews, and therefore, needed to fulfill all the requirements in the Jewish law in order to authenticate Himself to them. When Jesus entered the baptismal waters, He sanctified the waters, not the other way around. When Mary complies with everything in the Law, she validates the goodness of the Law.

If one examines Leviticus 12, where this commandment is given, it is clear that the “purification” is related to the flow of blood related to childbirth, and not to “sin”. A woman does not turn away from God by giving childbirth, or having a montly period. These laws were intended to show Israel the value of the flow of blood, that the life is in the blood. They are fulfilled in Christ, as He gives His lifegiving blood for us on the cross.


I am sure she had some insight, as is reflected in her magnificant, however, I doubt she had a clue about how magnificent it would actually become. We can see in scripture that her life on earth was quite humble and in many ways unremarkable. It was not until after she was taken up that the true extent became visible to her, and to the Church.


Well said! Mary was just following the law prescribed.


Good commentary guanophore. Some here were trying to use her conformance to the rites and the fact that she gave birth as evidence that she sinned - which is just utterly infantile logic and fundamentalist absurdity. As you have have preemptively proven that fallacious logic would make Jesus a sinner by submitting to the ritual circumcision. It would also make Jesus’ Holy Blood that flowed from His wounds on the cross sinful and lead to the confabulated Protestant thinking that a woman sins simply by having a menstrual cycle or by bleeding during childbirth. Ironically, the same who always demand proof in the literal words of scripture also make the rash assumption that Mary had actually bled during childbirth where scripture never tells us this. :thumbsup:



For those who want more information into Catholic insights on the matter of Mary’s ritual purification and how it relates to Church Teaching of Mary as “ever virgin and without sin” please read this excellent piece:
Where Angles Fear to Tread: Did Mary have a biological cycle or bleed during birth?

Here is a source of general Marian information that is just full of amazing Catholic knowledge and insights:
Mary Question Page




There is no official statement on the part of the Church regarding Mary’s labour and delivery. Many theologians and other have written about it, but Church authority are silent on the matter.

The Church holds that Mary was sinless and leaves it at that.

As to the temple offering and the purification, the Church accepts the fact that she was an Orthodox Jew and as any Jewish person of faith, she would comply witht he law.

Whether or not Mary had insight to her immaculae conception is up for grabs.

Mary was not a theologian. However, Luke’s use of the Magnificat seems to send a message that she hand some understanding that her relationship with God was unique.

Remember, we do not now if Mary actually ever said those words and we won’t know for a long time. Luke borrows those words from a canticle in the OT. We’re are not sure if he uses them to drive home a point about Jesus’ divine conception, which was an important topic for Luke or whether he uses them because Mary remembered the OT and recited the Canticle as she remembered it.

In either case, the point is that Mary was sinless and a faithful Jew.

JR :slight_smile:


JR, I know that Jews considered it ritually “sinful” (not morally sinful) that after birth or menstrual cycle a woman was in sin. My understanding is that any “change” in a woman’s status in ability to be receptive to obeying the command to produce life was sinful - ironically, even when one just produced that life and even when human biology imposed that every month for a “period” of time. But I don’t think that this extreme concept of “ritual” sin can apply to Mary. But to remove all doubt the church saying “Mary never sinned” implies to me that God would have taken it to the extreme also and spared Mary from having menstrual cycles as well as having had a conventional bleeding birth in a way that would change her status as virgin in both the moral and physical sense. There are unofficial early liturary works (Protoevangelium of James) I think that present this as the case. Thus there is evidence in early writing that this was general belief. So, even though the Church does not elaborate this teaching to me it is implied.

On a different matter all together I wanted to ask you about the Jewish rites associated with ransoming back the first born from dedication to the Lord. In the rosary mysteries this is definitely something that is meditated on. Is there scriptural evidence here that is associated with the purification rites that have Mary ransoming back Jesus through the offering of 2 turtle doves as my original first post stated? Is this the same rite or a separate rite? Would appreciate insight.


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