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Saint of the Day: Mary, Mother of the Church
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What was Mary’s role among the apostles?


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Philip Kosloski - published on 05/11/20

Mary was highly regarded by the apostles, contributing what she could to the early Church.

The Blessed Virgin Mary, being mother of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, played a vital role in the events that would change the world. She gave birth to him, raised him, and was there for him at the foot of the cross.

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, little is recorded in the New Testament about Mary’s activities. While Jesus entrusted to the apostles the duty of evangelizing the world, what did Mary do? Was she involved in the early days of the Church?

The New Testament gives us a few clues as to Mary’s role among the apostles.

First of all, Jesus entrusted his mother to the apostle St. John, the “beloved” disciple. It is generally accepted that at the time of Jesus’ death, his foster-father Joseph had already passed away, leaving Jesus as the family member primarily in charge of his aging mother.


Read more:
Where did Mary live after the Resurrection?

When he was about to die on the cross Jesus appointed John to take care of her.

When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:26-27)

Initially it appears that John took care of her in Jerusalem, as it is mentioned in the book of Acts.

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away; and when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

Acts 1:12-14

As a result, Mary was clearly present among the apostles in the early days of the Church and joined with them in prayer. Her presence was likely very peaceful and helped encourage the apostles in their mission.

Shortly after his passage, St. Luke narrates that, “When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them” (Acts 2:1-3).

While not explicitly mentioned, it is believed that Mary was there at Pentecost among the apostles, witnessing the descent of the Holy Spirit upon all those present.

After that, Mary’s activities are not mentioned in the New Testament and what happened next is not exactly known.

One tradition places St. John the Evangelist in the city of Ephesus. Many believe that since John lived in this city that the Virgin Mary lived with him and her assumption took place there as well. It is possible, then, that Mary spent the rest of her life in quiet, contemplative prayer.

Another tradition claims that St. Luke interviewed Mary for his Gospel. He does affirm that he interviewed people for his account, but does not mention Mary by name (cf. Luke 1:1-3). One piece of evidence that this might have been true is that Luke’s Gospel has many references to Mary, including stories that would have only been known by her.

In the end, we know little about Mary’s role among the apostles, but we do know that she was there and being the mother of the Messiah, likely had a privileged place. It is not without merit that the Church now invokes Mary as “Queen of the Apostles.


Read more:
St. Luke got the greatest interview of all time

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