Q: Did Mary have servants?

A: Some points to consider:

1) There has been a tendency since the late Middle Ages to compare Mary to Christ in order to show the intimate connection between the two figures. Mary is compared to the dawn, Christ being the rising sun, etc. In Scripture and the Fathers, Christ is frequently compared to the suffering servant of the Old Testament. In turn, spiritual literature will highlight Mary, the servant of the Lord, as stipulated in the Annunciation scene by Luke. This would speak against her having servants, but not categorically so.

2) There is no explicit proof in Scripture for either opinion, although the general tendency would speak in favor of no servants. Think of the shelter-seeking, the modest station in life (Joseph is a carpenter), the offerings at the Presentation (turtle doves were the offering of the poor), Joseph and Mary did not send their servants to look for the twelve-year-old in the temple, and at the foot of the cross Mary, probably a lonely woman, is entrusted to John.

3) The wedding scene does not seem to be a proof in favor of Mary having servants. She was "with Jesus" among the invited guests, and the servants therefore those of their host.

4) There are indications in the apocryphal writings regarding servants: the midwife Salome and her friend, angels serving the Holy Family on their flight to Egypt, or servants accompanying them. Widespread, thanks to legends and iconography, the idea of Mary having servants was counteracted by mystics leaning more readily toward servant and Passion-oriented theology.


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This page, maintained by The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute, Dayton, Ohio 45469-1390, and created by Stephen Malone Jr. , was last modified Thursday, 10/09/2008 13:20:34 EDT by Omar Memon . Please send any comments to jroten1@udayton.edu.