Was Mary's sister also called Mary?


John 19:25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala.

Was Mary’s sister also called Mary or am I reading it wrong?



Yes. :smiley:

To be serious, it’s one of those things were what John means is unclear. It’s true, Mary of Clopas has been traditionally read by many Christians as referring to Jesus’ mother’s sister (there were three women at the foot of the cross, all named Mary - the “three Marys”), but the Syriac tradition considers Mary of Clopas to be a different person than “His mother’s sister” (i.e. there were four women at the foot of the cross) - and renders the verse accordingly: “his mother and his mother’s sister, and Maryam the wife of Qalyopa and Maryam of Magdala.”


Patrick is correct. There are at least three different Mary’s in the Gospels.


If you compare the texts and historical data, a good case can be made that Salome is being referred to as Mary’s sister.




I agree that it would be a bit strange for Saint Anne and Saint Joachim to name two of their daughters Mary, but we should keep in mind that sister could just as well mean her brother’s wife, and therefore her sister in law. Non the less she was Jesus’ aunt :slight_smile:


First is good to point out that the catholic church does not have a s specific teaching as to the Virgin’s sister. The church is silent even to the question of if she had a sibling. So this topic is complicated as there are several theories about it and at least to me the fact that we have two James makes a big confusion.

Tradition usually says that Salome was Mary’s sister(someone already posted a link explaining the fact basis for this theory. This is one of the strongest theories and many agree). From all what I’ve read the issue with the original text in John is that it has no comas so that is where the concussion comes from. Most of the experts I have read do not agree with The idea that Mary of Clopas was the virgin’s sister as it would be extremely odd during those days (and even during these days) to name both of your children exactly the same. So people that think that there were four women present tend to think that Mary’s sister was Salome, who was who would have been the mother of James and John (who tradition says they were cousins of Jesus and would explain why Jesus leaves his mother to the care of John - the Virgin’s youngest nephew by blood) and who would have been the wife of Zebedee. Many that follow this interpretation think Clopas and Zebedee/alpheus would have been husbands to the other Mary and Salome and then clopas would have been Saint Joseph’s brother and their kids would have been James and probably Simon, and because Simon and Jude were usually connected Jude may have been a child of Clopas and his wife Mary while the sons of Zebedee would have been Salome’s kids.

There is another group of people that believe that by “sister” was what meant was sister in law, clopas would have been Joseph’s brother ( one historian Hegessipus indicates after the martyrdom of James that Clopas is indeed st Joseph’s’s brother.) So this theory says that there were three women and that what it was meant was that Mary of clopas was the virgin’s sister in law. I have also read suggestions that Mary of clopas was probably married twice becoming a widow with children and then marrying clopas which would explain why the James have different fathers. And there is also a theory that says that clopas was also a widower and that when he married Mary C. He had already two sons which would explain James, Joseph, simon and Jude and why they are always named in that order as brethren of the lord (specially if you take into account that if st Joseph died early the Virgin a widow would probably had been welcomed with Jesus into Clopas’ family so Jesus may have grown up as their adoptive brother), and why the division in pairs.

However there are many grey areas because we lack details but the two thesis above (four women being Salome the sister and three women been Mary C. The sister in law) the two that best seem to connect the points that we know for a fact.


Oh, why not. If George Foreman can name all his sons “George”, there is no reason there can’t be 2 Miriams. In fact, I bet that was where George got the idea from. :smiley:


Well, anything is possible of course, but I believe Clopas to be Mary’s brother and thereby making the other Mary her sister-in-law. I believe this Mary to be the mother of Jesus’ cousins as well(those that some protestants believe to be his siblings, all though we know that is not possible since Mary stayed a virgin for her entire life).


I was making a joke, notice the grin icon?


Yeah, I noticed, I just wanted to develop my thought about the other Mary being the holy virgin’s sister-in-law. And I do believe it is POSSIBLE that Anne and Joachim had two daughters named Mary, but it is unlikely.


Or if you follow the tradition that Joseph had other children who were much older, it could have been one of Joseph’s daughters who was of the same general age as Mary and called a “sister” rather than a step-child.

There are other cultures where it is common to call children by the same first name. In the Phillipines, for example, sisters might all be Maria but with different middle names.


Almost all of the children in our Hispanic Sunday school has a first name of Maria. My mother’s sisters all were named Maria “something”. Mama was Maria Gertrudis. It’s common in many cultures.
There were countless Mary’s and Miriam’s in those times.
I think of Our Lady as an only child though.


Do we know if Mary had siblings? I’m not saying that you thinking of her as an only child is wrong, but it would be intresting to know if there is anything in the tradition about her siblings or lack there of. I have always pictured her as the youngest of many siblings.


There is no actual record of the Blessed Virgin Mary having any siblings. The English word sister is not found in the original language. Could mean almost anyone. I personally doubt that the Jesus ever had any earthly relatives except the Blessed Mother and those that go back to David… God Bless, Memaw


This is the case for Latin america too. In my own family all the women (my mother her two sisters, my grandmother, three of my great grandmother’s, plus about 10 or more cousins and my mother’s counsin) we are all Maria but no one goes by the first name but by the second name.

Now the objection that is usually done to this tradition is that back in those days that custom did not exist and back in those days is very unlikely for someone to have a middle name so if indeed the virgin’s parents would have had two children named Mary most likely there would have been no way to differentiate one from the other growing up.


Given that Mary’s parents, Anna and Joachim were advanced in years, it has been traditionally held that she was an only child. Women seeking to have a child often pray to Saint Anne for a fertility.
No mention anywhere of any siblings.
Why did you think she was the youngest of many? What supports that?
Just curious. :wink:


Oh, I don’t really know why, it’s just how I’ve always pictured it. I know Anne and Joachim were quite old when she was born, so that’s why I imagine her as the youngest in her family. Also I like the idea of Mary with her siblings. I imagine her being such a peaceful person even from a very young age, perhabs helping her siblings to make oeace after fights and etc. I think it is lovely to think about the life of the young Mary.


Our imagination doesn’t make facts. God Bless, Memaw


No, of course not, but as long as our imagination isn’t contrary to church teachings I think we are free to have our own “pictures”.


The problem is that both the names Miriam and Maria are translated as Mary. Jesus’ mother’s name in the original Greek of the Gospels is Miriam while Clopas’s wife is Maria. Also Clopas is Joseph’s brother.:slight_smile:

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