Monday 30th November 2015

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Mary’s Perpetual Virginity… The “Other Mary” And St. Joseph’s “Other Children”

May 18, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments


Part 7

“Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, Joseph, Jude, and Simon? And are not also his sisters here with us? And they took offense at him” (Mark 6:3).
So, after all, Jesus appears to have had four brothers, named James, Joseph, Jude, and Simon, as well as two or three sisters, right? Let’s investigate the issue.
Three women are called “Mary” in the New Testament: Mary, the Mother of Jesus; Mary Magdalene; and “the other Mary.” And, because of this, a little confusion has been established, which gave an excuse to anti-Catholic bigotry to raise its ugly head against the perpetual virginity of Our Savior’s Mother.
“Then he [Joseph of Arimathea] rolled a large stone to the entrance of the tomb, and departed. But Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the sepulcher” (Matt. 27:61).
“Now late in the night of the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the sepulcher” (Matt. 28:1). So it appears that Mary Magdalene used to hang out with that mysterious “other Mary.”
Who was that “other Mary,” and why is it important to find it out?
St. Mark tells us something about her: “And Mary Magdalene and Mary the Mother of Joseph beheld where he was laid” (Mark 15:47).
Aha! “The other Mary” was the mother of a man called Joseph, not St. Joseph of course, but one of the disciples of Jesus.
“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas [the other Mary], and Mary Magdalene” (John 19:25).
Now we know more about “the other Mary”: She was the wife of a man called Cleophas. The plot thickens.
“And many women were there [on Calvary], looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the Mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee” (Matt. 27:56).
So the other Mary, the wife of Cleophas, had another son alongside the one disciple Joseph. His name was James. Not the other James; he and John were the sons of Zebedee, whom Jesus called the “sons of thunder.” No, this James and his brother Joseph were the sons of the couple Cleophas and Mary.
Why is this important? Because the aforementioned brothers James and Joseph, who were sons of Cleophas and Mary, are mentioned in St. Mark’s Gospel as brethren of Jesus!
“Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, Joseph, Jude and Simon? And are not also his sisters here with us?” (Mark 6:3).
As there was no distinct word for “cousin” in those days, as explained in a previous article, those two young men Joseph and James were the sons of Uncle Cleophas and Auntie Mary, therefore Jesus’ cousins. And they had two more brothers, Jude and Simon (not Simon Peter).
That is why the Apostle James was called the “brother of the Lord” by St. Paul:
“But I saw none of the other apostles, except James, the brother of the Lord” (Gal. 1:19). James was the son of Uncle Cleophas and Auntie Mary.
So, on the cross, Jesus gave His Mother to the care of Cousin John, son of Cleophas and Mary, to be his mother: “Son, Behold thy Mother” and “From that hour he took her into his own home” (John 19:26-27).
There was no problem for John to look after two mothers.
As I pointed out before, if Mary had other children, it would be against Jewish customary law for Jesus to give His Mother to a kinsman, even a cousin, let alone someone who was not a relative. It would be unthinkable in terms of good Hebrew traditions. And Jesus came not to destroy, but to fulfill.
So, according to Scripture itself, those four men were Jesus’ cousins — brethren, in contemporary Jewish parlance.

+    +    +

Another possible question: Were Jesus’ brethren the children of St. Joseph from a previous marriage?
Some have speculated that such brethren came from St. Joseph’s first marriage. Possible? Yes. Likely? Definitely not. If he had been a widower, and then married again, it is not likely that he married again to remain celibate, or would agree that his new wife should make a vow of virginity. If he were to remain a celibate, he would do it as a single man, or a widower.
St. Jerome explains: (+ AD 420): “Suppose that the brethren of the Lord were Joseph’s sons by another wife. But we understand the brethren of the Lord to be not the sons of Joseph, but cousins of the Savior, the sons of Mary, His mother’s sister” (Contra Helvidius). That’s the other Mary we talked about in the beginning, the wife of Cleophas and mother of four sons, James, Joseph, Jude, and Simon.

+    +    +

The dialogue between our Lady and the Angel Gabriel raises another interesting aspect, in the light of the Eastern Gate and the Ark of the Covenant: Did she — and St. Joseph — actually make a vow of virginity?
Many commentators, especially St. Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologiae, Pt. III, Q. 28, Art. 4), argues that this is how her perplexity at hearing the angel’s announcement that she would bear a son makes sense.
“But Mary said to the angel, how shall this happen, since I do not know man?” (Luke 1:34). Now she was espoused to Joseph, and had a clear idea of how babies are conceived and born. This question of hers makes no sense if she had not determined to remain a virgin. Otherwise, in the natural course of events in married life, she would eventually conceive and become a mother of the son of God. What she was asking was, “How can I have a child while remaining a virgin?”

+    +    +

A final and beautiful explanation of the verb to know in “And he [Joseph] did not know her till she brought forth her firstborn son. And he called his name Jesus” (Matt. 1:25) is inspired in a comment by St. Augustine:
During their engagement, St. Joseph knew that she was a good, faithful, pious, hard-working girl, the ideal wife. Fine. But what he did not know was that She the Woman whose heel crushes the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:15), who appears in Heaven under a crown of twelve stars (Apoc. 12:1), the one who was blessed among women, who was full of grace, with whom the Lord was (Luke 1:28), whom all generations would call blessed, to whom the almighty had done great things (Luke 1:48-48).
Joseph knew nothing of this till the Child was born in Bethlehem, and the star came, and the Magi with their gifts of gold to honor His princely nobility; incense to honor His divinity; and myrrh to honor His role as propitiatory Victim; and the angel calling the shepherds, and the glory of God shining around them, and the multitude of the angelic hosts praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men of goodwill.”
Wow! Joseph was amazed! Now he finally knew who she really was!
He could say with St Augustine: O beauty ever ancient and ever new, so late have I known thee!
Next article: summing up.

+    +    +

(Raymond de Souza is director of the Evangelization and Apologetics Office of the Winona Diocese, Minn.; EWTN program host; regional coordinator for Portuguese-speaking countries for Human Life International [HLI], president of the Sacred Heart Institute and a member of the Sovereign, Military, and Hospitaller Order of the Knights of Malta. His web site is:

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Police officer killed at Planned Parenthood was pro-life, Christian pastor

Nov. 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Officer Garrett Swasey, the police officer killed during a standoff with a lone gunman at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs Friday, was reportedly a leading figure in his church who was also pro-life.…Continue Reading

In Australia, bishops face legal complaint for defending marriage

Sydney, Australia (CNA/EWTN News) — The Sydney archbishop has strongly defended the freedom of the Catholic Church in response to a legal complaint claiming the Australian bishops’ pastoral letter on marriage violated Tasmania’s strict anti-discrimination law. “Australia is party to…Continue Reading

Obama Just Sent MAJOR Threat To Every US State That Won’t Take Syrian Refugees

The Obama Administration is issuing a showdown with states that are refusing to accept Syrian refugees. The administration sent a letter telling states they would be subject to enforcement action if they do not comply with federal plans to import…Continue Reading

Pope at UN in Africa: We Have a Choice: Either Improve or Destroy the Environment

Says It Will Be ‘Catastrophic’ If Individual Interests Prevail Over the Common Good in Paris Meeting, and Information Is Manipulated to Protect ‘Plans and Projects’ Kenya, November 26, 2015 ( Staff Reporter Here is a Vatican translation of the address…Continue Reading

Cardinal Pell bets against the odds: insists Pope Francis will strongly reaffirm Catholic tradition

ROME, November 25, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — Contradicting the statements of some of the pope’s closest advisors, the Vatican’s financial chief Cardinal George Pell has declared that Pope Francis will re-assert and “clarify” longstanding Church teaching and discipline that prohibits Communion…Continue Reading

‘Bleeding host’ under investigation by SL Catholic diocese

(KUTV) The Salt Lake Catholic Diocese has started an investigation into what is being described as a ‘bleeding host’ at a local parish, St. Francis Xavier in Kearns. Images of the host, given to 2News, showed circles of deep red,…Continue Reading

How did heterodox prelates try to change doctrine at synod?

In this address delivered at the Catholic Voice conference Faith of Our Fathers, Matthew McCusker of Voice of the Family discusses three key elements of the “progressive” strategy deployed at the Ordinary Synod: arguing for changes in the Church’s language,…Continue Reading

Bishop Defends Against ‘Vicious’ Bill Donohue Attack

by Church Militant • • November 24, 2015 65 Comments Bishop Rene Henry Gracida is criticizing the Catholic League The bishop emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas is defending against what he calls the “vicious attack” by Catholic League’s…Continue Reading

Pope Francis to German Bishops: Your Church is a mess! Fix it and … GO TO CONFESSION!

The German bishops are making their ad limina visit. Every few years diocesan bishops have to go to Rome to meet with offices of the Roman Curia and, usually, the Pope. Pope Francis gave an address to the German bishops…Continue Reading

Germany’s bishops discuss decentralizing the Church in meeting with Pope Francis

ROME, November 23, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — The German bishops, sixty-seven of them, recently visited Rome together for their obligatory Ad Limina visit with the pope from November 16-20. This Ad Limina visit, which is obligatory for all bishops of the…Continue Reading

In Australia, Catholic Bishops Face Court Action, Huge Fines Over Traditional Views on Marriage

Australians have always viewed America’s litigious culture with suspicion. Our “no worries mate” approach to life means we tend not to rush off to court at the drop of a hat. So last week when a state government commissioner ruled…Continue Reading

Cardinal Wuerl’s Embassy Row Penthouse

Walking through the posh neighborhood of Embassy Row in October, I stumbled across a scoop: that Washington, D.C.’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl lives in a penthouse atop a mansion priced north of $40 million. That Embassy Row mansion is the Our…Continue Reading


Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope celebrates closing Mass of African Journey

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday celebrated Mass at Bangui’s Barthélémy Boganda Stadium for thousands of the faithful from the Central African Republic. Speaking of Paul’s missionary zeal in the Letter to the Romans, Pope Francis in his final Mass in the Central African Republic reflected on the great missionary effort which first brought the Gospel to the people of Central Africa. Times of difficulty, trial and suffering remind all of the Lord’s call to…Continue Reading

Pope Francis Arrives in Central African Republic

Francis Will Open Holy Door in Bangui Before Inauguration of Jubilee of Mercy in Vatican Bangui, November 29, 2015 ( Deborah Castellano Lubov Pope Francis has arrived in the Central African Republic, the final leg of his first Apostolic Visit to Africa, after having visited Kenya and Uganda. The Pontiff arrived at the M’poko International Airport in the war-torn nation’s capital of Bangui around 10 a.m. local time, after a nearly three-hour flight from Uganda,…Continue Reading

Pope to young: Jesus can transform walls into a path


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday encouraged young people in Uganda to turn negative experiences into positive ones with the help of Jesus and his grace. In an address where the Pope ditched his prepared remarks and spoke off-the-cuff in Spanish, he urged the young people to open the door of their hearts to Jesus. More than 150,000 cheering and dancing young people had gathered at an airstrip near Kampala to hear the Pope and…Continue Reading

Pope Gives Youth Choice: Do You Want to Overcome Challenges or Be Overcome by Them?

Throwing Aside Script, Pope Francis Asks Kenya’s Young People If They’ll Allow Difficulties Destroy or Use Them As Opportunities Nairobi, November 27, 2015 ( Deborah Castellano Lubov Pope Francis has asked Kenya’s young people how they will respond to the challenges they face, including those of bad tribalism, corruption, and desperation, and challenged them to get out of vicious cycles. Speaking to tens of thousands gathered in Nairobi’s Kasarani Stadium, this morning, the Pope listened…Continue Reading

The Catholic Origins of Thanksgiving

Did you know that Thanksgiving is a Catholic holiday? True, it’s not on the Church calendar. And it is celebrated only in America, whereas Church holidays are universal. Our national holiday is certainly an event that has taken on a life of its own, with an established tradition involving turkey and mashed potatoes, football, shopping, and a four-day weekend—which is fascinating since none of those things have anything to do with the original event that…Continue Reading

Notre Dame Professor . . . Forced To Leave Project Aimed At Faithful Catholic Education

By JUSTIN PETRISEK (Editor’s Note: Catholic Education Daily, an online publication of the Cardinal Newman Society, published this report on November 24. All rights reserved.) + + + In an unexpected turn of events, University of Notre Dame professor Fr. Bill Miscamble, CSC, has been forced to disassociate himself with a new project recommending Notre…Continue Reading

Conversion To Pro-Life

By DONALD DeMARCO Before Roe v. Wade, but when the abortion issue was being hotly contested, certain pro-life leaders in Canada, as well as in the United States, told me that once people realized what abortion entails, the controversy would be settled solidly in favor of life. The plausible assumption in the minds of these…Continue Reading

How An Americanist/Modernist Continued To Undermine Catholic Teaching

By JAMES LIKOUDIS The author of Pilgrim Church: A Popular History of Catholic Christianity (Revised & Expanded; Twenty-Third Publications, 1989) that continues to circulate in Catholic parishes is Fr. William J. Bausch, who may be remembered by veterans of the sex education battles of the 1970s for his book A Boy’s Sex Life when he…Continue Reading

The End Of Obamaworld

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN In denouncing Republicans as “scared of widows and orphans,” and castigating those who prefer Christian refugees to Muslims coming to America, Barack Obama has come off as petulant and unpresidential. Clearly, he is upset. And with good reason. He grossly, transparently underestimated the ability of ISIS, the “JV” team, to strike…Continue Reading

The Fictional Islamic State

By JUDE DOUGHERTY There is reason to believe that the so-called “Islamic State” is a fictional being rather than a reality. A state has borders, a central government, and a bureaucratic structure. None of this has been claimed for ISIS, although some have spoken of ISIS as a proto-state. What we have in fact is…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World . . Critique Of Church Art Is Not Comment On Sponsors’ Faith

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK I recently received a phone call in which I was informed that a tweeted comment of mine on the Twitter social network about the interaction between some chapel visitors and sacred art recently installed therein had, in effect, called into question the faith of that chapel’s proprietors in the Real Presence. Although I did not…Continue Reading

An Apologetics Course . . . The Rule Of Faith Is The Church’s Teaching Authority

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 30 In order to finish the discussion on the revolution caused by Martin Luther nearly 500 years ago, let us consider his first major dogma, namely, sola Scriptura. Any Catholic — especially The Wanderer readers — who want to take their faith seriously and apply the criteria laid down by John Paul II in…Continue Reading

The Communion Of Saints

By DON FIER For the past six weeks, we have examined and elaborated upon the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) on a state of life embraced by many loyal followers of Christ who have freely responded to a special call to follow with radical fidelity the way of life that the Lord Himself led. These generous…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I know the word “friend” appears many times in the Bible, but sometimes it is capitalized. For example, at daily Mass today there was a reading from 1st Maccabees which said that King Antiochus, who was about to die, “called in all his Friends” to tell them of his tribulations, and he chose Philip, “one of his Friends,” to…Continue Reading

The New Jerusalem

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Second Sunday Of Advent (YR C) Readings: Baruch 5:1-9 Phil. 1:4-6, 8-11; Luke 3:1-6 In the Gospel reading today we hear about the preaching of St. John the Baptist. However, unlike what we read in the other Gospels, St. Luke does not record the Baptist as saying that he is the voice in the desert calling…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Maria Virgo

By CAROLE BRESLIN When I visited my aunt in St. Louis, Mo., we would visit the basilicas, the museums, and other places of interest. She had many sites near her that were particularly special to her, such as her parish, The Little Flower, in Richmond Heights. In addition, she described a place where she frequently went for eucharistic adoration at…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Raphael Kalinowski

By CAROLE BRESLIN There are many terms we use in our language which are clichés. We hear people say that somebody “kicked the bucket,” meaning that he has died, or “I’ll send you to outer Mongolia,” meaning that they will ship you so far away no one will find you. Fr. Kalinowski not only went to a place just north…Continue Reading