St. Luke provides some interesting clues that highlight Mary's role in her cousin's pregnancy.
When thinking about doulas, Mary of Nazareth might come to mind. Why? When Our Lady heard from Gabriel about her cousin’s unusual pregnancy, she “arose and went with haste” to meet her (cf. Luke 1:39). After an extraordinary greeting, St. Luke records that “Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home” (Luke 1:56).
A few verses prior to that the angel Gabriel announced to Mary, “And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren” (Luke 1:36).
Putting those two verses in context, Mary stayed with Elizabeth during her final three months of pregnancy. St. Luke does not record the exact duties Mary was engaged in, but it’s very likely that Mary helped her elder cousin with many household tasks, in addition to offering emotional and spiritual support.
It’s unclear if Mary stayed during childbirth, but even if she didn’t (which would seem odd — why would she stay there for three months and leave right as Elizabeth needed her the most?), Mary could rightly be called one of Elizabeth’s doulas.
Even more fascinating is the etymology of the word doula. It comes from the Greek word doulē, meaning a female servant. In the Gospel of Luke, Mary proclaims to the angel Gabriel, “Behold, I am the doulē of the Lord.”
So for any doulas out there looking for a patron saint, you can’t have anyone better than the Virgin Mary.
Since you are here…
…we’d like to have one more word with you. We are excited to report that Aleteia’s readership is growing at a rapid rate, world-wide! Our team proves its mission every day by providing high-quality content that informs and inspires a Christian life. But quality journalism has a cost and it’s more than ads can cover. We want our articles to be accessible to everyone, free of charge, but we need your help. To continue our efforts to nourish and inspire our Catholic family, your support is invaluable. Become an Aleteia Patron today for as little as $3 a month. May we count on you?