Catholic Classroom: Women Named Mary in the Gospels

Question: Who are all the women named Mary in the Gospels?

In addition to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus, the Gospels mention a few other women named Mary. We’ve created a list to help you understand who all these women were!

Mary Magdalene

After Jesus cast seven demons out of her (Luke 8:2), Mary Magdalene became a disciple of Christ and followed him all the way to the foot of the cross where she remained throughout his Crucifixion. While some  believe she is also the woman who bathed Jesus’ feet with her tears (Luke 7:37-50), or the sister of Martha and Lazarus, or both, others believe that these are three separate women. What we know for sure is that Mary Magdalene was present at the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Each of the Gospels tells us that Mary Magdalene was the first person to whom Christ appeared after his Resurrection. In the Gospel of John she is alone at the tomb when Jesus appears to her, but in the three Synoptic Gospels she is accompanied by other women. Regardless, Jesus chose Mary Magdalene to deliver the news of his Resurrection to the rest of his Apostles. For more on Mary of Magdalene, check out our blog that highlights four things you can learn from this great saint.

Mary, wife of Clopas, mother of James and Joses (or Joseph)

The only time Mary, wife of Clopas, is mentioned in the New Testament is in John’s account of the Crucifixion. There she is listed among the women at the foot of the cross (John 19:25). However, in the Gospel of Matthew, a woman called “Mary the mother of James and of Joseph” (Matthew 27:56) is present at the Crucifixion. In the Gospel of Mark, “Mary the mother of the younger James and of Joses” (Mark 15:40) is present. Because of this, we might assume that Mary, wife of Clopas is the same as this Mary, mother of James and Joses and Mary, mother of the younger James and of Joses.

Mary of Bethany

Mary of Bethany, probably better known as the sister of Martha and Lazarus, is another faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus comes to the home of Mary and Martha. Mary “sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak,” while her sister Martha burdened herself with “much serving.” Jesus praises Mary for her childlike act of sitting at his feet and listening, while he gently rebukes Martha for getting caught up in anxiety and worry (Luke 11:38).  We hear about Mary of Bethany again when she weeps at Jesus’ feet because her brother Lazarus has died. We read that Jesus “became perturbed and deeply troubled” at her weeping, and then went on to raise Lazarus from the dead (John 11:31). Finally, we hear about Mary of Bethany one more time when she lavishly anoints Jesus’ feet with a liter of costly perfume (John 12:3).  

Although there is some debate as to the exact identity of some of these women, we can learn from their faithful examples and trust that they are praying for us from heaven.


Catholic Classroom: Women Named Mary in the Gospels