May 23, 2017

Holy Myrrhbearer Mary, Wife of Cleopas

St. Mary of Cleopas the Myrrhbearer (Feast Day - May 23)


Mary now brings her soul and not aromatic herbs,
To You O Savior as a most aromatic fragrance.

Saint Mary, wife of Cleopas (or 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 Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene."

She was also among the Myrrhbearing women, who on the morning of the Resurrection of Christ went to the tomb of Christ to anoint the body of Jesus, only to discover that He had risen as He foretold. Thus she was among the first witnesses of the Resurrection.

Eusebius of Caesarea, citing Hegesippus, records that "Cleopas was a brother of Joseph", which makes Mary of Cleopas a sister-in-law of Mary, the mother of Jesus. If this is true, as John 19:25 implies, she was the aunt of Jesus.

Little else is known of Saint Mary of Cleopas.

According to the local tradition of the island of Zakynthos, the village of Maries, a village named after both Mary Magdalene and Mary of Cleopas, is where Mary Magdalene first preached Christ crucified and risen to the locals while on her way to Rome, accompanied by Mary the wife of Cleopas. Tradition says their ship dropped anchor at Porto Vromi and Mary Magdalene and Mary of Cleopas came ashore to spread Christ’s gospel. The footprint can still be seen on the rock. Today at Maries, Panagia Mariesotissa is the church of the village, standing below the village and housing an icon with miraculous properties.

A portion of her sacred relic is at the Monastery of Panagia Tourliani in Mykonos.

Mary Magdalene and Mary of Cleopas disembark at Zakynthos.

Mary Magdalene and Mary of Cleopas on the island of Zakynthos.