Mary of Clopas

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The hysteria of Mary of Clopas in Caravaggio's The Entombment of Christ (1602).
Mary of Clopas - Sant'Andrea della Zirada Venice

Mary of Clopas (or of Cleopas) (Ancient Greek: Μαρία ἡ τοῦ Κλωπᾶ, María hē tou Clōpá), the wife of Clopas, was one of various Marys named in the New Testament.

Mary of Clopas is explicitly mentioned only in John 19:25, where she is among the women present at the Crucifixion of Jesus:

Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary [the wife] of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

The expression Mary of Clopas in the Greek text is ambiguous as to whether Mary was the daughter or wife of Clopas, but exegesis has commonly favoured the reading "wife of Clopas" (as reflected in above translation). Hegesippus thought that Clopas was the brother of Saint Joseph.[1]

Gospel parallels

According to some interpretations, the same Mary was also among the women that on Easter morning went to the tomb to anoint Jesus' body with spices. Matthew 28:1 calls her "the other Mary" to distinguish her from Mary Magdalene, while Mark 16:1 uses the name "Mary of James", most probably derived from James the Less. The Latin version of that name, Maria Iacobi, is often used in tradition. Stephen S. Smalley (1982) says that it is "probable" (but not virtually certain) that Mary of Clopas is Mary the mother of James son of Alphaeus.[2]

For detailed explanations, please see: Brothers of Jesus and James the brother of Jesus.

Gospel of Philip

In a manner very similar to the Gospel of John, the apocryphal Gospel of Philip also seems to list Mary of Clopas among Jesus' female entourage:

There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother, and her sister, and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion. His sister and his mother and his companion were each a Mary.[note 1]

Adding to the confusion, the Gospel of Philip seems to refer to her as Jesus' mother's sister ("her sister") and Jesus' own sister ("his sister").


An early tradition within the Roman Catholic Church identify Mary of Clopas being the sister (or sister-in-law) of Mary the Mother of Jesus. Eusebius of Caesarea citing Hegesippus records that "Cleopas was a brother of Joseph",[3] which makes Mary of Clopas a sister-in-law of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Jerome identifies Mary of Cleopas as the sister of Mary, mother of Jesus and as the mother of those who were called the brothers and sisters of Jesus.[4]

According to the surviving fragments of the work Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord of the Apostolic Father Papias of Hierapolis, who lived circa 70-163 AD, Mary of Clopas would be the mother of James the Just, Simon, Judas (identified as Jude the Apostle), and Joseph (Joses). Papias identifies this "Mary" as the sister of Mary, mother of Jesus, and thus as the maternal aunt of Jesus.[5] The Anglican theologian J.B. Lightfoot dismissed Papias' evidence as spurious.[6][7]

In the Roman Martyrology she is remembered with Saint Salome on April 24. Some have regarded Mary as the daughter of Clopas, who was in turn one of the husbands of Saint Anne.[8]

Modernist historiography

James Tabor suggests that she is, in fact, Mary, the mother of Jesus and that Clopas was her second husband.[9]

See also


  1. ^ The Old and New Testament and Gnostic contexts and the text are discussed by Robert M. Grant, "The Mystery of Marriage in the Gospel of Philip" Vigiliae Christianae 15.3 (September 1961:129-140).


  1. ^ Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History, Book III, ch. 11.
  2. ^ S. S. Smalley, Dean Emeritus of Chester Cathedral, England. "Mary," New Bible Dictionary, 1982 p. 793.
  3. ^ Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History, Book III, ch. 11.
  4. ^ "CHURCH FATHERS: The Perpetual Virginity of Mary (Jerome)". 
  5. ^ Papias of Hierapolis. Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord. Fragment X. Peter Kirby. Retrieved 10 September 2015. 
  6. ^ Lightfoot, J.B. (1865). "The Brethren of the Lord". Retrieved 2016-05-31. The testimony of Papias is frequently quoted at the head of the patristic authorities, as favouring the view of Jerome. [...]. It is strange that able and intelligent critics should not have seen through a fabrication which is so manifestly spurious. [...] [T]he passage was written by a mediaeval namesake of the Bishop of Hierapolis, Papias [...] who lived in the 11th century. 
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-11-16. Retrieved 2015-10-06. 
  8. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "St. Anne". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 
  9. ^ Tabor, James (2006). The Jesus Dynasty. Simon & Schuster. pp. 90–91. 
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