The Three Marys

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The Three Marys at the Tomb by Mikołaj Haberschrack, 15th century

The Three Marys or Maries are three women mentioned in the New Testament, all of whom were, or have been considered by tradition to be, named Mary, a name that at the time was the most common for Jewish women.[1][2]

The New Testament gives the name Mary to five women, some of whom have at times been thought to be the same person.[3]

  1. Mary, Mother of Jesus
  2. Mary Magdalene
  3. Mary of Bethany (Luke 10:38-42; John 12:1-3)
  4. Mary, mother of James (the Less) and Joseph (Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40; Luke 24:10)
  5. Mary, mother of John Mark of Jerusalem (of the Apostles&verse=12:12-16&src=ESV Acts of the Apostles 12:12-16)
  6. Mary of Clopas
  7. Mary of Rome

Different sets of three women have been referred to as the Three Marys:

The three Marys at the tomb[edit]

This name is used for a group of three women who came to the sepulchre of Jesus. In Eastern Orthodoxy they are among the Myrrhbearers, traditionally including a much larger number of people. All four gospels mention women going to the tomb of Jesus, but only Mark 16:1 mentions the three that this tradition interprets as bearing the name Mary:

The other gospels give various indications about the number and identity of women visiting the tomb:

The Roman Martyrology commemorates Mary Magdalene on 22 July. On 24 April it commemorates "Mary of Clopas and Salome, who with Mary Magdalene come very early on Easter morning to the Lord's tomb to anoint his body and heard the first announcement of his resurrection.[4]

Women at the tomb in art[edit]

Lorenzo Monaco, The Three Marys at the Tomb (manuscript illumination of a 1396 antiphonary)[5]

What may be the earliest known representation of three women visiting the tomb of Jesus is a fairly large fresco in the Dura-Europos church in the ancient city of Dura Europos on the Euphrates. The fresco was painted before the city's conquest and abandonment in AD 256, but it is from the 5th century that representations of either two or three women approaching a tomb guarded by an angel appear with regularity, and become the standard depiction of the Resurrection.[6] They have continued in use even after 1100, when images of the Resurrection of Jesus in Christian art began to show the risen Christ himself. Examples are the Melisende Psalter and Peter von Cornelius's The Three Marys at the Tomb. Eastern icons continue to show either the Myrrhbearers or the Harrowing of Hell.[7]

Legend in France[edit]

A medieval legendary account had Mary Magdalene, Mary of James and Mary Salome,[8] Mark's Three Marys at the Tomb, or Mary Magdalene, Mary of Clopas and Mary Salome,[9] with Saint Sarah, the maid of one of them, as part of a group who landed near Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in Provence after a voyage from the Holy Land. The group sometimes includes Lazarus, who became bishop of Aix-en-Provence, and Joseph of Arimathea. They settled at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, where their relics are a focus of pilgrimage. The feast of the Three Marys was celebrated mainly in France and Italy, and was accepted by the Carmelite Order into their liturgy in 1342.[10]

Processional statues[edit]

In various Catholic countries, particularly Spain, the Philippines and Latin American countries, images of the three Marys (in Spanish Tres Marías) associated with the tomb are carried in Good Friday processions referred to by the word Penitencia (Spanish) or Panata (Filipino for an act performed in fulfilment of a vow).[11][12] They carry attributes or iconic accessories, chiefly as follows:

El Greco, The Disrobing of Christ

In this set, Mary Magdalene is sometimes called Maria Betania in line with the long-standing tradition in Western Christianity that identified Mary Magdalene (probably from Magdala near Lake Tiberias) with Mary of Bethany, a place near Jerusalem, much further south.

The three Marys at the crucifixion[edit]

Women at the crucifixion of Jesus, Hans Memling.

The presence of a group of female disciples of Jesus at the crucifixion of Jesus is found in all four Gospels of the New Testament. Differences in the parallel accounts have led to different interpretations of how many and which women were present. In some traditions, as exemplified in the Irish song Caoineadh na dTrí Muire,[16] the Three Marys are the three whom the Gospel of John mentions as present at the crucifixion of Jesus:[17]

These three women are very often represented in art, as for example in El Greco's Disrobing of Christ, as are other formulations of the women present, for the Gospels other than that of John do not mention Jesus' mother as present and, in place of Mary of Clopas, they speak of Mary (mother of James the Less) (Mark and Matthew), Salome (Mark), and the mother of the sons of Zebedee (Matthew).

The three daughters of Saint Anne[edit]

Wolf Traut painting of the Holy Kinship(1514): Saint Anne with her three daughters, her husbands and theirs, and her grandchildren

According to a legend propounded by Haymo of Auxerre in the mid-9th century,[18] but rejected by the Council of Trent,[19] Saint Anne had, by different husbands, three daughters, all of whom bore the name Mary and who are referred to as the Three Marys:

Mary Magdalene is not part of this group.[20]

This account was included in the Golden Legend of Jacobus de Voragine, written in about 1260.[21]

It was the subject of a long poem in rhymed French written in about 1357 by Jean de Venette. The poem is preserved in a mid-15th-century manuscript on vellum containing 232 pages written in columns. The titles are in red and illuminated in gold. It is decorated with seven miniatures in monochrome gray.[22][23]

For some centuries, religious art throughout Germany and the Low Countries frequently presented Saint Anne with her husbands, daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren as a group known as the Holy Kinship.

Other interpretations[edit]

The Three Marys by Alexander Moody Stuart, first published 1862, reprinted by the Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, 1984, is a study of Mary of Magdala, Mary of Bethany and Mary of Nazareth.

In Spanish-speaking countries, the Orion's Belt asterism is called Las Tres Marías (The Three Marys). In other Western nations, it is sometimes called "The Three Kings," a reference to the Gospel of Matthew's account of wise men, who have been pictured as kings and as three in number, bearing gifts for the infant Jesus.[24]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Richard Bauckham, The Testimony of the Beloved Disciple (Baker Academic 2007 ISBN 978-0-80103485-5), p. 175
  2. ^ Bart D. Ehrman, Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene (Osford University Press 2006 ISBN 978-0-19974113-7), p. 188
  3. ^ Scott Hahn (editor), Catholic Bible Dictionary (Random House 2009 ISBN 978-0-38553008-8), pp. 583-584
  4. ^ Martyrologium Romanum (Vatican Press 2001 ISBN 978-88-209-7210-3)
  5. ^ Web Gallery of Art
  6. ^ Robin Margaret Jensen, Understanding Early Christian Art (Routledge 2000 ISBN 978-0-41520454-5), p. 162
  7. ^ Vladimir Lossky, 1982 The Meaning of Icons ISBN 978-0-913836-99-6 page 185
  8. ^ Kaye D. Hennig, King Arthur: Lord of the Grail (DesignMagic Publishing 2008 ISBN 978-0-98007580-9), p. 149
  9. ^ Suzanne Pinckney Stetkevych, Reorientations (Indiana University Press 1994 ISBN 978-0-25335493-8), p. 97
  10. ^ James John Boyce, "The Medieval Carmelite Office Tradition", p. 133, Acta Musicologica, Vol. 62, Fasc. 2/3 (May - Dec., 1990), pp. 119-151, JSTOR
  11. ^ Jim Yandle, "Panata by Ramos Parallels Those Final Days of Jesus" in Ocala Star Banner (6 April 1980)
  12. ^ "Yolanda survivors fulfill 'panata'" in Cebu Daily News, 20 January 2014
  13. ^ http://www.flickr.com/photos/37190760@N06/7053611121/
  14. ^ http://www.flickr.com/photos/28098727@N00/3485771454/
  15. ^ http://www.flickr.com/photos/laurencebukas/5907234981
  16. ^ "Caoineadh na dTrí Muire" (The Lament of the Three Marys)
  17. ^ John 19:25
  18. ^ Patrick J. Geary, Women at the Beginning (Princeton University Press 2006 ISBN 9780691124094), p. 72
  19. ^ Fernando Lanzi, Gioia Lanzi, Saints and Their Symbols (Liturgical Press 2004 ISBN 9780814629703), p. 37
  20. ^ Stefano Zuffi, Gospel Figures in Art (Getty Publication 2003 ISBN 9780892367276), p. 350
  21. ^ The Children and Grandchildren of Saint Anne
  22. ^ "Le manuscrit médiéval" ~ The Medieval Manuscript, Nov. 2011, pg. 1
  23. ^ The Chronicle of Jean de Venette, translated by Jean Birdsall. Edited by Richard A. Newhall. N.Y. Columbia University Press. 1953. Introduction
  24. ^ Matthew 2:1-11