What do we know about Mary's life from apocryphal sources?

There are a number of ancient texts not in the canon of Sacred Scripture which claim to present details about the life of Mary. The Protoevangelium Jacobi [First Gospel of James] (ca. 150) examines her early life and gives us details like the names of Mary's parents (Joachim and Ann).

[Crucifixion Scene] The Transitus Mariae (fifth century, Ethiopian) legends recount the end of Mary's life on earth. There are apocryphal accounts of the birth of Mary and of her 'Laments'. There is an entire Coptic cycle of writings on the life of Mary. Finally, the Golden Legend, written by Jacobus de Voragine around 1260 AD, chronicles legends about many saints. Several of these tales involve aspects of Mary's life (e.g. Birth, Purification, Assumption, etc). Though none of the details in these accounts are as trustworthy as those in the Bible, these legends have influenced both the personal piety of many believers, and various liturgical commemorations of these events. For more information, consult the following references:

There are also more recent texts which claim to offer details about the life of Mary based on private revelations from personal mystical experience. Even today, some alleged mystics claim to have received supernatural revelations about Mary's life (e.g. those in Medjugorje claim that her actual birthday falls on August 5). The Church allows her children to examine these works in the spirit of pious devotion, but accords none of their claims the certitude of divine faith. Translations of some of the better known texts are:


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This page, maintained by The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute, Dayton, Ohio 45469-1390, and created by Kris Sommers , was last modified Monday, 09/19/2011 16:33:44 EDT by Omar Memon . Please send any comments to jroten1@udayton.edu.