Was Mary an only child?

I’ve heard reference to a belief that Mary had no siblings. What are the reasons for believing this and what is the Church teaching on it? I’ve never even thought about the question, but I’ve noticed some people think it’s very important.

Read the Protoevangelium of James (not considered inspired but interesting reading and information) which tells about Mary. Her mother Anna was childless before Mary and had no other children after Mary. Mary was an only child.

As for the Blessed Virgin having siblings, we read in John’s Gospel: “But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene” (John 19:25).

The Greek word here, adelphe, is derived from adelphos (brothers) which is used in the Bible for everything from siblings, to cousins, to brothers in the Faith.

Question: Was his mother’s sister and Mary the wife of Clopas one woman or two? The statement is ambiguous - even more so in the original which had no commas .

What is the chance that Anna and Joachim would name their two daughters both Mary?

Forest-Pine, you took the words right out of my mouth.

Possible (Mary seems like an extremely popular name at the time and people weren’t as individualistic then as now), but probably not likely.

It’s possible they were cousins, since as I mentioned above, the Greek word here, adelphe, is derived from *adelphos * (brothers) which is used in the Bible for everything from siblings, to cousins, to brothers in the Faith.

I wasn’t trying to contest the view that Mary was an only child, just wondering if it was a Church dogma and if there were any theological reasons behind it.

It is my understainding that this falls into the realm of tradition (much the same as the belief that Mary was schooled at the temple since age 3). We also know Mary’s parents’ names through tradition and not dogma. So, no, I don’t think there is anything more than tradition to pull from in this conversation.

Nope. If something doesn’t have a bearing on our salvation, the Church doesn’t see a need to pronounce a dogma.

Many people (and I’m not singling out anyone in particular here) are under the impression that the Church has pronounced a dogma on everything, or has an official interpretation on every verse of Scripture. In fact, the Church has defined relatively little, and only what is important. Apart from these, Catholics are actually free to speculate on a great many things.

Thanks for the info everyone. So, there’s no official Church teaching and no theological importance in it, but there’s some historical evidence. That satisfies my curiosity.

I had allways taken Mary wife of Clopas to be her sister in law as it would be extremly odd to name two children the same in any culture

Can you imagine being the sibling of a person conceived without orginial sin? I mean you can only hear your parents say “Why can’t you be more like your sister” so many times before you lose it! :rotfl:

I guess you’ve not heard that George Foreman named all his sons George. And, there are families where all the girls names are Mary or different versions of Mary like Mary, Marian, Marie, Miriam, etc. I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility.

The bible seems to lean towards one sister but due to language is ambiguous at best, and apochrypal writings are nice but not divinely inspired… so on the question of Mary’s siblings the Church does not have a teaching and we are free to speculate. But, we cannot know with certainty.

LOL. :rotfl:

In Rome, daughters were given the feminized version of the clan name “nomen”. If there was more than one, they’d have a nickname, and if several, numbers.

Boys, on the other hand had a given name “praenomen”, their clan name “nomen”, and the family name “cognomen”.

Gaius Julius Caeser would name all his daughters Julia.
Marcus Tullius Cicero would name all his daughters Tullia.

Hey! Have we forgotten? “This is my brother Daryl and my other brother Daryl”…

There was nothing wrong with it on the The Bob Newhart Show. :rotfl:

From what I’ve read from the mystics, Mary did have a sister – a much OLDER sister, which is why there would not have been any sibling rivalry. Makes sense.

Yeah, and didn’t Michael Jackson name all his kids “Prince Michael”?

The Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich says that Anne and Heli (Joachim) did have a daughter named Mary that was much older than the Virgin Mary. Mary’s older sister was married to Cleophas (Clopas). Mary Cleophas also had a daughter named Mary that was married to Alpheus. Mary Alpheus was the Mother of the Apostle James the Minor.

But there’s more … :slight_smile:

The Virgin Mary’s mother, Anne, had a sister named Sobe that was married to Salomon. Sobe had a daughter named Mary that was married to Zebedee. Mary Zebedee was the mother of Apostles John and James the Greater.

Anne’s mother had a sister named Emerentia that was married to Ophras. Emerentia had a daughter, Elizabeth that married Zachary. Elizabeth gave birth in her old age to John the Baptist.