You are currently viewing The Three Marys | The Pious Women Who Witnessed The Death of Jesus

The Three Marys | The Pious Women Who Witnessed The Death of Jesus

We have dwelt on several occasions on the affection Jesus had for the women who followed him. More precisely, with the three Marys. The Gospels mention their presence among the disciples, and some of them have left us names and descriptions that have allowed us to figure them out. Let us think, for example, of Martha and Mary of Bethany, sisters of Lazarus, who welcomed Jesus into their home as a brother, or of Mary Magdalene, considered an apostle among the apostles because she was the first to announce his Resurrection.

In particular, John in his Gospel tells us of the pious women who stood under the Cross during the torture of Jesus: “Mary of Cleophas and Mary of Magdala stood near the cross of Jesus his mother, his mother’s sister” (John 19,25-27). Virgin Mary, Mary of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene are the pious women who witnessed the death of Jesus on the Cross. No biblical data oppose that “Mary the wife of Clopa” ( TNM ) and Mary, mother of Joseph / Rose, are the same people. We can therefore identify the “Three Marys” as follows:

1. Mary Magdalene.

2. Mary, mother of James and Joseph / Rose, wife of Clopay.

3 . Mary (Miryàm), mother of Yeshùa .

What is the story of the three Marys?

The story of the three Marys is much more complex: Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene (or Magdala). And a third, “Mary,” who was not called Mary. If the first, the contemplative Mary of Bethany, is easily identifiable with the sister of the industrious Martha. And also the resurrected Lazarus. A resident of what is now one of the suburbs of Jerusalem. The other two women have been protagonists for centuries in a biblical intertwining that led to making Mary Magdalene a prostitute. And also the patroness of repentant prostitutes.

Galeotti was the evangelical page. According to Luke, the last episode in chapter 7 of the Gospel presents Christ’s encounter with an anonymous “sinner from that city” (Lk 7, 37). To whom “much was forgiven because he loved much” (Lk 7, 47). She is the woman who, seen meeting Jesus, stands “at his feet, weeping. Began to wet them with tears. Then dried them with her hair, kissed them and sprinkled them with perfume” (Lk 7:38).

Although in the biblical text, “sinner” is the only definition given to her and does not explicitly refer to a woman’s possible profession. The apparent notoriety of her guilt (cf. Lk 7:39) has led her to consider prostitution. And Mary Magdalene pays the price.

Read also: If Jesus Was without Sin, Then Why Was He Baptized?

Did the three Marys follow Jesus?

The next chapter of Luke’s Gospel opens with a short list of the women who followed Jesus to serve him. The first name is that of a confident Mary of Magdala (Lk 8, 2) or “Mary, called Magdalene” (text CEI 2008), identified with the name of the Israeli town on the western shore of Lake Tiberias. Of the woman, we are offered only a brief glimpse of life, which presents her as the one “from whom seven demons had come” (Lk 8, 2 and Mk 16, 9).

The appearance of two women – but in reality, not explicitly of two “Marys.” Also, in a few verses and the subsequent change of subject. With the introduction of the parable of the sower (Lk 8: 4-8). It led to the superimposition of the two women: Mary of Magdala and Magdalene, possessed by demons. Became a prostitute from then on. It will be she who is with other women and the Virgin “at the cross of Jesus” (Jn 19, 25). She supervises the burying of the body of Christ (Mk 15, 47).

And again, she takes a seat with “the other Mary “(Mt 27:61) in vigil” before the tomb. ” And it will always be Mary Magdalene, who went “on the first day of the week to the tomb in the morning. When it was still dark” (Mt 28, 1), perhaps with “aromatic oils” to anoint the body of Jesus (Mk 16, 1) ), to be present at the first witness of his Resurrection – the stone “removed from the tomb” (Jn 20, 1). A “great earthquake” and an “angel of the Lord” (Mt 28, 2), the apparition of Christ himself (Mk 16, 9).

Read also: Why Is it Important That Simon of Cyrene Carried the Cross of Jesus?

  • The Mary above Magdalene, the “penitent” of Magdala, who for specific apocryphal Gospels was the companion or even the wife of Jesus.

In reality, there were many more women who followed Jesus and who presumably accompanied his Passion. Also, Anna Katharina Emmerick, a German mystic who, in one of her visions, relived the whole Passion, describing it with details not reported in the Gospels but confirmed by other sources, names at least seventeen. However, in the Gospels, the pious women are mentioned mainly, also called the three Marys.

Read also: Was Saint Anne the mother of Mary?

Who are the women at the foot of the Cross?

The three Marys describe pious women differently in the canonical Gospels. Matthew speaks of three women at the foot of the Cross. Two named Mary (Mary of Magdala, Mary’s mother of James and Joseph). And the mother of the sons of Zebedee. (Matthew 27,55-56).

Three women are always the protagonists of the Resurrection of Christ. In the story of the discovery of His empty tomb. Also, in this case, the women who went to the tomb to bring myrrh for the body of Christ (hence the nickname “myrrh,” bearers of myrrh ) are referred to as the three Marys. Already present at the time of the deposition and the embalming of the body of Jesus by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.

In particular, Mark tells of how Mary of Magdala, Mary, mother of James and Salome, went to the tomb of Jesus. After purchasing aromatic oils, and found the stone that closed it rolled away. And inside a young man who announced the Resurrection to them. of Jesus (Mark 16.1-8).

The Three Marys

Representation of the three Marys

You might also want to know about the Three Marys.

  • The name “Three Marys” means identifying the women who witnessed the death of Yeshùa. Traditionally these women are identified as Mary (mother of Yeshùa), Mary Magdalene, and Mary of Clopay.
  • All four Gospels report the account of the crucifixion of Yeshùa. The narratives are different from each other while narrating the same historical events. This diversification concerns, in particular, the “Three Marys.”
  • Luke remembers that women witnessed the scene, but he does not mention their number or name.
  • Finally, John presents the list of three women called Mary: Mary, the mother of Yeshùa, Mary of Cleopas, and Mary of Magdala. The traditional expression “Tre Marie” derives from the Johannine tale. In total, the women especially mentioned are four:

1. Mary Magdalene.

2. Mary, mother of James and Joseph.

3. Mary, mother of Yeshùa.

4. The mother of the sons of Zebedee, named Salome.

Read also: Is The Abrahamic Covenant a Central Theme For The Old Testament?


Readers who continuously follow our textual journey into the Gospel of Luke will recall that we presented a seemingly bewildering female figure – a well-known prostitute – transformed into an example of conversion and liberation after encountering Jesus ( 7.36-50).

But, immediately after the narration of this episode, we read this note: “He went off to towns and villages. They were preaching and announcing the good news of the kingdom of God. There were with him the Twelve. And some women with evil spirits had healed from infirmity: Mary called Magdalene. From whom seven demons had come out; Giovanna, wife of Cuza, administrator of Herod; Susanna and many others, who served them with their goods “( Luke 8,1-3).