What are the pains of the Woman in Revelation?


Hello :slight_smile:

Tradition tell us that Our LAdy didn’t experience pain in giving birth to the Lord. So I was intrigued by the passage of Revelation

1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:

2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.*

I think it is about the sufferings of the Church. Only I would like to know your thoughts on this. Not only, but also in Revelation we see Mary as Queen. Why then, seeing this same Blessed Virgin suffering in giving birth, isn’t it concluded that she did?

The typology based on Eve is an answer, but then is this only simbolic of the hardest moments of the Church?

ON the USCCB website, there is this footnote:

  • [12:2] Because of Eve’s sin, the woman gives birth in distress and pain (Gn 3:16; cf. Is 66:7–14)

But it was Mary, which is sinless, then she wouldn’t bear the sin of Eve after the Fall!

Thank you


The early Christians associated the Woman with Mary giving birth and with the Daughter of Zion, but figured that it was really the Church. The pains were associated with all Creation “groaning” as if in labor for the coming of Christ, and with God’s people “groaning” in Egypt until the Lord sent somebody to save them. (Jesus is the New Moses too.)


Ah, here’s the bit from St. Beatus of Liebana, quoting various bits from Victorinus and St. Jerome’s version of Victorinus. This is from the “summarize everything” section at the beginning of the first book of Commentary on the Apocalypse:

"’“And a great sign was seen in heaven.” (Rev. 12:1, VL)’ That is, God become Man, in the Church.

'“A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” (Rev. 12:1) 'She is the ancient Church of the Fathers and prophets and apostles, who had had the groans and torments of her desires until she had seen ‘the promised Christ take up a body out of her own people “according to the flesh.” (Rom. 1:3 and after)’

‘But “clothed in the sun”’ is the hope of resurrection. Indeed, “the moon”’ is the peril of the saints which never can fail, which they suffer from the darknesses of this age. ‘For however much [the peril] is reduced, it is increased’ by that much, too. Likewise, the saints ‘have’ ‘light in darkness, like’ ‘“the moon.”’ But the “crown of twelve stars” signifies the choir of the Fathers.


There never has been any consensus whether Mary felt pain during childbirth. But would say she did. Jesus was also sinless, did He not feel pain during His passion? Therefore, it seems reasonable that Mary did feel pain, even in her sinlessness.


Actually, there’s been a ton of consensus that Mary didn’t feel pain during childbirth. That’s why all Christian artists make a point of Mary looking serene and unrumpled.

Nor is that strange. First off, there has always been a consensus that the way Mary gave birth left her physically a virgin. If the baby left her “like sunlight through glass,” as the famous St. Augustine phrase goes, or like Jesus coming and going from the Upper Room after the Resurrection (which is the ancient consensus), it wasn’t going to be painful (or destroy Mary’s hymen). Painful is having muscles try to force a baby’s head through a very small opening.

And we do know this was the ancient consensus, because there are plenty of TMI ancient references to this teaching, and plenty of pagans who mocked it. That’s why Mary was associated with Ezekiel’s closed gate of the Temple, through which only the Lord could come and go.

Secondly, even if we didn’t know that Mary remained physically intact after childbirth (which we do), there are plenty of women who even now don’t feel pain during childbirth. It’s not super-common, but it does happen. Some people are just genetically lucky that way - and it’s probably the way all women would have given birth before the Fall.


Anyway, a longer, unsummarized bit about the Woman, from Book 4 of Commentary on the Apocalypse by St. Beatus of Liebana:

" “And a great sign was seen in heaven.” The Church is “heaven.” The “great sign” — that is God made man.

…For this “woman” who was always “giving birth” in her pains, even after the Lord’s Advent, is the ancient Church of the fathers and prophets and saints and apostles, who has her desire’s groans and torments until the once-promised Fruit “according to the flesh” (Rom. 1:3, Rom. 4:1, etc.) of her common people – Christ Himself – should be seen to have taken a body out of those same people of hers.

But “clothed in the Sun” – that is, manifested in good works, by which light of clarity she looks for the “hope” of the Resurrection (Acts 23:6; 1 Ptr. 1:3) and the glory of the “Promise.” (cf. Acts 26:6, Eph. 1:18)

Indeed, “the Moon” is accustomed to shine at night. The Church is what one cannot see in the darkness of this age, on account of the evil ones. Therefore, the fall of the bodies of the saints is from the debt to death which one never can default upon. For however much it may be diminished, so much it will be augmented; but neither is the hope extinguished in all of those who are “asleep,” as some may suppose. But they have light in darkness, like the Moon in that same darkness – that Moon we said to be “under her feet.”

But “the crown of stars” – they are the saints. “And on her head a crown of twelve stars” – that is, the Church constructed in the duodenary number [twelve]; in Christ, the twelve tribes of Israel which first shone light into the night of the age, before the Lord’s Advent – as if before sunrise.

And therefore “a great sign was seen in heaven:” the Church is “heaven,” the “great sign” is Christ. There are also thousands of “stars” shining out light; this is those radiating the lights of their virtues: of patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, sacerdotes, and confessors.


However, it isn’t wrong to identify Mary with the Woman, because the wording of the passage in Greek (“she is having one in the womb”) deliberately echoes the wording of Matthew 1:23 - (“Behold, the virgin will have one in the womb.”)

So you are supposed to be thinking of Mary and Jesus, except that the Woman is pointed out as still with child and giving birth, and different because suffering pain.

The Church is always giving birth to Christ, in a way, because through Baptism, the Church gives birth to new members of the Body of Christ. Mary is our mother through Jesus, and Mother Church is our spiritual mother too.


There is no formal Church teaching concerning Mary and labor pains, fiercely held opinions both ways notwithstanding.



I think it’s kind of silly to think Mary didn’t have pain or that the baby magically appeared without a natural birth. Why would it have been so necessary for Joseph to find shelter for her to give birth if there was no urgency and a need for privacy? If the baby was going to just appear out of no where she could have given birth in the back of the donkey in the middle of a crowd and no one would have noticed. It was not uncommon for people carry infants under their robes for nursing, sleep, privacy, so no one would have paid any thought to that. And yes, I realize some women have pain free births. I am one of them. Out of 10 children, I only felt labor pains with 3, and only one that was close to being true pain. I’m lucky that way. But it still is extreme discomfort in the end stages of labor and a sense of urgency/need for privacy regardless. I would not say it was unbearable, but it was not unfelt either. Perhaps I’m wrong, but having given birth to 10 children–2 of them still births and very tiny–I highly doubt it was a magical, unfelt birth, especially since they were hunting for shelter in time for privacy.


Genesis 3:16

To the woman he said:
I will intensify your toil in childbearing;
in pain* you shall bring forth children.
Yet your urge shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.

(usccb website)

If laboring in pain was brought about by original sin, then it would make perfect sense that Mary did not give birth in pain because she was conceived without sin.


It is disrespectful for someone to claim that Mary gave birth in pain. She is pure, she is holy, she is serene.


That’s ridiculous. Jesus is God and he died in pain. Is God less pure, holy and serene than Mary? I don’t think so.


Original sin didn’t bring about the pain in child birth. It INTENSIFIED the pain. In order for something to intensify I would think it already existed.


It is Tradition that Mary did not have birth pain and Tradition is on the same level as Scripture and must be accepted as teaching.


Its all very interesting but, as Aquinas said, small errors at the start make for big mistakes at the end.

As others have stated there is no solid “tradition” that Mary was without pain in giving birth to Jesus. If you go along with those Fathers who opine this then you have to swallow the whole bundle - including Jesus not passing down, excuse me, the birth canal but being born pretty much trhe same way Buddha was described as being born 600 years earlier. I don’t call that a “human birth” nor do I call that Jesus being like us in all things but sin. (What is sinful about passing down the organ made for this purpose. What is sinful about this possibly rupturing Mary’s, excuse me, hymen. Some of the Fathers had hang ups on Mary not remaining a material Virgin if this happened).
You would also have to accept that Mary never died before her Assumption and her “Dormition” means she just went so “sleep”. (The fact that the Greek word behind the feast titled “Dormition” means sleep does NOT mean this is what Eastern Christians believed. In fact they hold she died, just like the Pope who declared her Assumption as infallible doctrine).

Others have observed that Original Sin “increases” the pain of childbirth which means there was always pain to start with. That gets overlooked a lot, probably because it doesn’t fit in to the highly detailed and esoteric Marian “theologies” that the ancients used to like to weave from the Bible based on very little information and lots of “logical assumptions.”

Another assumption is that the Rev reference to the Woman Giving Birth and the 12 stars is Mary. Yes, it fits nicely up to a point. But it fits the Church better as well as others and you yourself conclude.

This happens a lot. It is interesting that Satan, Mary and Jesus at various times in Church history have all been likened to the bright planet Venus that brings the Sun. That title is “Lucifer” - yet today we only think of Satan bearing that description. Yet it was a popular Christian name in the first 400 years after Christ.

All good fun, but lets not too seriously jump around the Bible too much and construct a unified spider-web theology that cannot really stand up on its own.


If the Virgin Mary didn’t experience physical labor pains when she gave birth to Jesus, then the pains of the Woman in Revelation were the same kind of metaphorical labor pains which other interpretations of the Woman require and which St Paul wrote about when he said, “My little children, with whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you!” (Galatians 4:19)


I think it’s dangerous when we try to elevate Mary above God, and that is exactly how discussions like this about her seem to many non Catholics. Why should anyone believe that she could have a birth like described while Jesus had to suffer so tremendously? Catholic women are called to become like Mary. We are told she was 100% human, but then many things people say about her are humanly impossible. How can we become like Mary if even child birth is too dirty of an experience for her to go through? Child birth is NOT a dirty thing to be avoided. As Catholic women we should realize this and find glory in having and raising our children.

Also, there are many priests that point out that Mary suffered greatly to bring forth and raise our Lord to struggling mothers to help us to understand that raising our children helps us to become like Mary. I don’t think priests would be spreading this message to struggling moms if tradition mandates a belief in pain free, non vaginal, magical births that the rest of us are too dirty to enjoy. I mean, why would Mary even need to go through a pregnancy (highly uncomfortable) and be on the verge of being divorced and possibly stoned to death if at the end a baby boy magically appears. It just doesn’t add up, especially when you read what lead up to Jesus’ birth and happened after his birth in the gospels.


Well in Church teaching, the BVM does enjoy a lot of perks that are denied to the rest of humandom. Enough to almost qualify for goddess status in some minds/cultures.

So the birth pains thing isn’t that much of a reach, IMNAAHO, although it is really a minor issue.



That there is no formal teaching doesn’t mean it is isn’t believed and fitting, right? We can read the Fathers.

But why is it false to identify the Woman with Mary? I wouls have said it is Mary and much more.


It is dangerous if you aren’t Catholic and don’t understand the validity of Marian doctrines, don’t you think? When you get them, you also see that because Eve was created sinless before the Fall and didn’t have to suffer, in the same way Mary, conceived without sin, wouldn’t have suffered. It is underlining the privilege of her COnception, not diminishing the pains of other men and women, nor, God forbids, Jesus’.
But so we could ask why the New Adam had to die this way, when the old Adam didn’t? It goes too far then. So the fact that the Virgin didn’t suffer is anopther sign of her sinlesness.

But how would we elevate Mary above Jesus by doing this? Because Jesus suffered, and Mary didn’t during childbirth, she is higher? Oh no! The sword piercedher heart anyway. And, her absence of pain at that moment comes from her Son.

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