Sunday 4th October 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:

Untitled 3

Pope FrancisAn Open Letter To His Holiness Pope Francis      Given the controversy and confusion surrounding the 2014 Synod on the Family, the staff of The Wanderer and its supporters thought it appropriate to address Pope Francis with an open letter . . .

Catholic Hospitals Sued For Refusing Emergency Care To Pregnant Women

The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday announced that it is suing Trinity Health Corporation, which operates 80 hospitals nationwide, for refusing to provide pregnant women suffering from life-threatening emergency complications with abortions. Trinity Health hospitals have “repeatedly and systematically…Continue Reading

Too Scared to Pray? ISIL Cancels Prayers for Fear of Russian Airstrikes

The Islamic State terror group cancelled Friday prayers in the Syrian city of Raqqa and emptied mosques there out of fear of further Russian airstrikes, according to activists and city residents. According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights,…Continue Reading

Putin defends Russia’s ban on youth-focused gay propaganda: ‘I believe we should leave kids in peace’

MOSCOW, September 29, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – In 2013, Russia passed an amendment to the country’s Child Protection Law against “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors,” which also safeguards children from being adopted by homosexuals. Western governments, led by the…Continue Reading

EXPOSED: The billionaire Planned Parenthood donor who wants his donations kept very, very secret

Sept. 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Three weeks after I left my job at the clinic, Planned Parenthood took me to court. I am always asked, “Why would they take you to court? Did they have something to hide?” Well, yes.…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke Brought Back Into Roman Curia By Pope Francis

Raymond Cardinal Burke has been re-appointed to Congregation for the Causes of Saints from which he had been removed in December of 2013.

The Secret Meeting of the Papal Trip

Washington, D.C. One meeting during Pope Francis’ whirlwind trip to America has remained secret. Until now. It was, arguably, the most significant meeting, symbolically, of the entire trip. It should, therefore, be brought to the attention of the public, both…Continue Reading

Angry Pope Blasts Mayor of Rome as a ‘Pretend Catholic’

Pope Francis raised eyebrows in Italy on Tuesday by slapping down the left-leaning mayor of Rome as someone who “pretends to be Catholic”. The unforgiving assessment of Ignazio Marino — a man the Italian media love to hate — further…Continue Reading

Bishop Fellay Petitions Pope Francis

A petition to Pope Francis: uphold marriage! The Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X has just published a petition to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, asking him to publicly defend the institution of holy matrimony. Bishop Fellay…Continue Reading

Pope Assigns Some Homework to Catholic School Children

Tells Immigrant Families That Everyone Has a Right to Dream New York City, September 25, 2015 ( Kathleen Naab Pope Francis was visibly relaxed and joyful as he met with students, their families, immigrants and others in New York this…Continue Reading

Loved Ones of 9/11 Victims Say Faith Is What Gets Them Through

At Ground Zero for Pope’s Visit, Mourners Take Solace in Francis’ Presence New York City, September 25, 2015 ( Deborah Castellano Lubov When your heart is broken, how do you cope? According to many who lost their loved ones when…Continue Reading

Cardinal Danneels Admits to Being Part of ‘Mafia’ Club Opposed to Benedict XVI

Further serious concerns are being raised about Cardinal Godfried Danneels, one of the papal delegates chosen to attend the upcoming Ordinary Synod on the Family, after the archbishop emeritus of Brussels confessed this week to being part of a radical “mafia” reformist…Continue Reading

Pope declares Junipero Serra a Saint

(Vatican Radio) Celebrating his first Mass in the United States on Wednesday, Pope Francis declared a new saint of the United States. Fr. Junipero Serra, a Spanish Franciscan priest known for starting nine missions in the 18th century in what…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’s Angelus Address

“The Synod Fathers, coming from every part of the world and gathered around the Successor of Peter, for three weeks, will reflect on the vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in society, for careful spiritual and pastoral discernment.” Vatican City, October 04, 2015 ( Staff Reporter Below is a ZENIT-translation of Pope Francis’ Angelus Address today at noon in St. Peter’s Square, following his having presided over Mass for the Opening…Continue Reading

Pray For The Intersession Of Saint John Paul ll For A Successful Outcome To The Synod . . .


With the start of The Synod of the Family, it is appropriate to invoke the intercession of now St. John Paul ll for a successful outcome. It was John Paul ll who at the conclusion of the Synod on the Family in 1980 reaffirmed the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family, despite the many dissidents and the heretical thinkers of the day. The following prayer was written by Pope John Paul ll prior to…Continue Reading

Fr Lombardi reacts to revelations by gay prelate

(Vatican Radio) The director of the Holy See press office Father Federico Lombardi on Saturday reacted to revelations by a high-ranking Vatican official that he is in a gay relationship. 43 year old Polish Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa has been living in Rome for 17 years and has worked at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since 2003. He also serves as assistant secretary of the International Theological Commission and teaches theology at two…Continue Reading

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri explains how the Synod on the Family will unfold


Vatican City, 2 October 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Holy See Press Office Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, gave a presentation of the phases and methods of the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the contemporary world”, which will commence on Sunday 4 October. “Tomorrow evening, in St. Peter’s Square, in the presence of…Continue Reading

Why Isn’t Kim Davis A Hero To The Left?

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK I have been waiting for weeks now for the keepers of the flame in the liberal establishment to express some begrudging admiration for Kim Davis’ decision to go to jail, rather than violate her conscience by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Kentucky. Or at least some ambiguity over what…Continue Reading

What’s In A Motto?

By DONALD DeMARCO Pope St. John Paul II’s 1998 encyclical Fides et Ratio is a thorough and thoughtful discussion of the harmony between “faith” and “reason.” It does not break new ground but reaffirms to a modern audience what St. Thomas Aquinas and more recent thinkers such as Jacques Maritain and Etienne Gilson have carefully…Continue Reading

Non-Catholic Communities As “Means Of Salvation”

By FR. BRIAN W. HARRISON, OS Many dissident traditionalists claim that Vatican Council II’s Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio (UR) is irreconcilable with traditional Catholic doctrine. The passage most commonly singled out in support of this claim is the affirmation in article 3 of the Decree that “the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from…Continue Reading

The Future Is More Of The Past

By DONALD DeMARCO “The outlook on the future is by no means free from anxiety; on the contrary, there are many serious reasons for alarm, on account of numerous and longstanding causes of evil, of both a public and a private nature.” What do we make of this sentence? There is an unmistakable contemporary ring…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 .… “The Homosexual Intimidation Tactic”

By BRIAN CLOWES Conclusion (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For a guide on how to organize a pro-family group, e-mail him at + + + From the homosexual activist’s point of view, simple censorship is even better than retaliation because it makes…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

An Apologetics Course . . . The Church Of Christ Is Universal, For Everyone

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA Part 22 It is true that Jesus came first for the Jews. Many individuals accepted Him, like the apostles, disciples, and their converts, but as a nation they refused Him. So the apostles spread their mission to the Gentiles — that means, to our ancestors. But even if the Jews had accepted Him, the apostles would…Continue Reading

Mission Of The Catholic Laity: Priest, Prophet, And King

By DON FIER Thus far in our examination of the vocation of the laity in the mission of the Church, it has become manifestly clear that theirs is a role that is distinctive and indispensable. Characterized especially by their secular nature, it pertains in a unique way to the lay faithful “to illuminate and order all temporal things with which…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. Recently we got a new pastor who has resumed the holding of hands during the Our Father that our previous pastor had eliminated. Has this now become part of the liturgy? And what is the purpose of the holding hands to begin with? Also, what do you think of “Polka Masses”? — C.G., Wisconsin. A. No, holding hands during…Continue Reading

Wisdom Is Worth More Than Gold

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty Eighth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Wisdom 7:7-11 Heb. 4:12-13 Mark 10:17-30 In the second reading, St. Paul tells us that no creature is concealed from God, but that everything is naked and exposed to Him to whom we must render an account. We know from the Gospels that our Lord, on several…Continue Reading

Pope’s Address To Families In Cuba… The Family Is A School Of Humanity

(Below is a Vatican translation of the address Pope Francis gave the morning of September 22 in his meeting with families. The Holy Father largely followed his prepared text, but ZENIT has transcribed and translated the various remarks he added off-the-cuff. Those are found in brackets. (The Holy Father’s theme was “families are not a problem, they are first and…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Thomas of Hereford

By CAROLE BRESLIN During the High Middle Ages the power of kings began to disintegrate, as shown by the Magna Charta, which was established in 1215. Although neither party of the agreement held up to its commitments, the beginning of more democratic rule had arrived. Three years later a noble family gave birth to a man who played a significant…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Simon De Rojas

By CAROLE BRESLIN The subject of this article lived in a time of great saints, great Spanish saints, so it is not surprising that he is little known. St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) who wrote the Spiritual Exercises, St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) who reformed the Carmelites and wrote The Interior Castle, and St. John of the Cross who wrote…Continue Reading