Tag: Marian articles

The Efficacious Devotion Of The Three Hail Mary’s. 

The Efficacious Devotion Of The Three Hail Mary’s. 


The Efficacious Devotion of the Three Hail Marys.

One of the greatest means of salvation and one of the surest signs of predestination, is unquestionably, the devotion to the Most Blessed Virgin. All the holy doctors of the Church are unanimous in saying with St. Alphonsus of Liguori: “A devout servant of Mary shall never perish.” The chief thing is to persevere faithfully until death in this devotion.

Numerous examples show how agreeable the three Hail Marys Devotion is to the Divine Mother and what special graces it draws, during life and at the hour of death, on those who never omit it for a single day.

Many great saints have practiced and recommended the devotion of the “Three Hail Mary”. Here are the names of but a few of them: St. Leonard of Port Maurice, St. Bruno, St. Bonaventure, St. John Berchmans, St. John Baptist Mary Vianney (Cure of Ars), St. Anthony of Lisbon and of Padua, St. Stanislaus Kostka, St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, St. John Joseph of the Cross, St. John Baptist de Rossi, St. Gerard Majella, St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, Blessed Marcellinus Champagnat, and, above all, the great Marian doctor St. Alphonsus Liguori who, in his writings recommended this devotion about twenty times.

This practice was revealed to St. Melchtilde while she was beseeching Our Blessed Mother to assist her in her hour of death. Our Lady appeared to her and said:

“I will, certainly. But I also want you to say three special Hail Marys to me every day: 

The first Hail Mary will be in honor of God the Father, Whose omnipotence raised my soul so high above every other creature that after God I have the greatest power in heaven and on earth. In the hour of your death I will use that power of God the Father to keep any hostile power far from you”.

“The second Hail Mary will be said in honor of the Son of God Who communicated His inscrutable wisdom to me. In the hour of your death I will fill your soul with the light of that wisdom so that all the darkness of ignorance and error will be dispelled.”

“The third Hail Mary will be in honor of God the Holy Ghost Who filled my soul with the sweetness of His love and tenderness and mercy. In your last hour I will then change the bitterness of death into divine sweetness and delight.”

Our Blessed Mother also revealed to St. Gertrude the Great: “To any soul who faithfully prays the Three Hail Marys, I will appear at the hour of death in a splendor so extraordinary that it will fill the soul with heavenly consolation.”

St. Leonard of Port Maurice, the celebrated missionary, had the Three Hail Marys recited morning and evening in honor of Mary Immaculate, to obtain the grace of avoiding all mortal sins during the day or night, moreover he promised in a special manner eternal salvation to all those who proved constantly faithful to this practice. He gave this devotion of Three Hail Marys as a penance in the confessional, especially for those who were struggling with sins of impurity.

“Astonishing conversions, increase in virtues, cure of the sick, temptations conquered, business difficulties solved, holy death, and salvation”.

The promise made by the Blessed Virgin to St. Mechtilde.

The “Three Hail Marys”, are in the words of StAlphonsus Maria Liquori: “the best safeguard for chastity”.

This statement was recorded and attributed to St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori by St. Pius X: that it is true, has been confirmed by our experiences as well as those of many missionaries” (according to Frassinetti). Even the number of graces and favors obtained through the practice of this devotion show us just how pleasing it is to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Here is the personal testimony of a sinner who used the devotion with good results: 

“For the last three years, I have been the slave of a bad habit against the virtue of purity. How could I get rid of this terrible passion? I tried every means available, but all proved useless. I used to give in to very serious sins and even to sacrileges. This was most disheartening. Then, one day, someone recommended to me the devotion of the “Three Hail Marys”. And now, it is not yet quite one month since I started to pray the “Three Hail Marys” every morning and every night without fail. I cannot explain what has happened within me, but I do know and can assure you that, since the very first moment, it has produced wonderful results within me. I have not succumbed to the impure temptations since then. When I have been weak and just about ready to succumb, something or another has happened which has stopped me from giving in, and indeed, I do know that it was something stronger than my desire of sinning.”

According to St. Gertrude (12561301), the Blessed Virgin Mary promised the following: 

“To any soul who faithfully prays the Three Hail Marys, I will appear at the hour of death in a splendor of beauty so extraordinary that it will fill the soul with Heavenly consolation.”

Later on, St. Leonard of Port Mauricehad the three Ave Marias recited morning and evening in honor of Mary Immaculate, to obtain the grace of avoiding all mortal sins during the day or and night, moreover, he promised in a special manner eternal salvation to all those who proved constantly faithful to this practice.

St. Alphonsus Liguori (16961787) adopted this pious practice and highly recommended it. He told parents to train their children to acquire the habit of saying three Hail Marys in the morning and evening. After each Hail Mary, he advice that the following prayer be said“By thy Immaculate Conception, O Mary, make my body pure and my soul holy.”

According to the St. Martha Catholic Church of the Pallottine Fathers, after Night Prayers: “Many Saints have had the practice of adding threeHail Marys” here in honor of Mary’s purity for the grace of a chaste and holy life.”  Thus, it has been recommended as a daily practice for people who have received confirmation that they pray the Three Hail Marys for purity of mind, heart and body” after examination of conscience.

PracticeRecite morning and evening, three Hail Marys in honor of the three great privileges bestowed upon Our Blessed Mother by the most Blessed Trinity with this invocation at the end: for the morning: “O my Mother preserve me from mortal sin during this day.” For the evening: “O my Mother preserve me from mortal sin during this night.”

(StPope Pius X gave his Apostolic Blessings to this practice and the devotion was raised to an Archconfraternity by Pope Benedict XV).

The Greatness Of Mary.

The Greatness Of Mary.


One day Saint Gertrude saw Our Lord counting gold coins. She summoned the courage to ask Him what He was doing. He answered: “I am counting the Hail Mary’s that you have said; this is the money with which you can pay your way to Heaven.”

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The Sinner’s Bouquet to the Blessed Virgin.

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It is related in the life of the Curé d’Ars that on one occasion, a lady, a perfect stranger to him, asked him to pray for her husband, a careless Catholic, who had just died suddenly and without receiving the Sacraments. “He was so careless, Father,” she said, weeping; “he did not go to his duties, and whatever will become of him?”Madam,” replied the saintly Priest, “do you not remember the bouquet of flowers he picked every Saturday to decorate Our Lady’s Altar? In return Our Blessed Lady obtained for him the Grace to make an Act of Perfect Contrition before dying, and he is saved”. This filled the woman with true happiness and love for the Mercy of Our Lord and Lady.

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How A Sinful Priest Was Saved From God’s Justice Through Mary.

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When St. Francis Borgia was in Rome, an ecclesiastic came to speak with him; but the saint being much occupied, sent Father Acosta to him. The ecclesiastic said to him:

“Father, I am a Priest and a preacher, but I live in sin, and distrust the Divine Mercy. After preaching a sermon one day against the obstinate, who afterwards despair of pardon, a person came to me to make his Confession, who narrated to me all my sins, and at length told me that he despaired of the Divine Mercy. In order to do my duty, I told him that he must change his life, and trust in God; then that penitent rose to his feet and reproached me, saying:

And you, who preach thus to others, why do you not amend, and why do you distrust? Know, said he, that I am an Angel come to your aid; amend and you will be pardoned’. 

And when he had said this he disappeared. I abstained for several days from my sinful practices, but when temptation came I again returned to my sins. On another day, as I was celebrating Mass, Jesus Christ sensibly spoke to me from the Host, and said: 

‘Why do you maltreat Me, when I treat you so well?’

After this I resolved to amend, but at the next temptation fell again into sin. A few hours ago, a youth came to me in my apartment, and drew from under his mantle a chalice, and from this a Consecrated Host, saying: 

Do you know this Lord whom I hold in my hand? Do you remember how many favours He has done you? Now behold the punishment of your ingratitude’,

and saying this he drew a sword to kill me. I then cried and said For the love of Mary do not kill me, for I will indeed amend. And then he said: 

‘This was the only thing you could have said to save yourself, make a good use of this Grace, for this is the last mercy for you’. 

When he had said this he left me, and I came immediately here, praying you to receive me among you.” 

Father Acosta consoled him, and the Priest, by the advice also of St. Francis, entered another order of strict observance, where he persevered in Holiness till his death.

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The Power of the Stabat Mater.

In the city of Cesena there lived two very bad men who were friends. One of them, named Bartholomew, in the midst of all his vices practised the devotion of reciting every day the *Stabat Mater” in honor of the Sorrowful Mary. 

Once when he was repeating this hymn, Bartholomew had a vision, in which he seemed to stand with his sinful companion in a lake of fire, and saw the most Holy Virgin, moved to pity, offer Her hand and take him from the flames. She directed him to seek pardon from Jesus Christ, who showed himself willing to pardon him through the prayers of His Mother. The vision ended, and Bartholomew at the moment heard the intelligence that his friend had been mortally wounded and was dead. Then he knew the truth of the vision, and quitting the world, entered the order of Capuchins, where he led a most austere life, and died in the fame of sanctity.

*The Stabat Mater is a 13th-century Christian hymn to Mary, which portrays her suffering as Jesus Christ‘s mother during his crucifixion. Its author may be either the Franciscan friarJacopone da Todi or Pope Innocent IIIThe title comes from its first lineStabat Mater dolorosa, which means “the sorrowful mother was standing”

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Mary Saves a Man in Mortal Sin.

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A certain canon, while he was repeating some devotions in honor of the Divine Mother, fell into the river Seine and was drowned, and being in mortal sin, the devils came to take him to hell. But Mary appeared at the same time, and said to them: 

“How have you dared to take possession of one who died praising Me?” 

Then turning to the sinner, She said:

“Repent, and be particularly devout to My Conception.” 

He was restored to life, became a religious, and never ceased to thank his deliverer, and everywhere to propagate the devotion to Her Immaculate Conception. 

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Saved From Hell by Mother Mary

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A noble youth, named Eschylus, being sent by the prince his Father to Hildesheim, a city of Saxony, to study, abandoned himself to a dissolute life. He fell ill, and was near dying, and while in that state he had a vision. He saw himself shut up in a furnace of fire, and believed himself to be already in hell and then he escaped from it through a hole and took refuge in a great place, where he found the most Holy Mary in the hall, and She said to him

“Rash man, dost thou dare to appear before Me? Depart from here and go to the flames which Thou dost merit.” 

The young man besought the Virgin to have mercy on him, and then turned to some persons who were near, and implored them to recommend him to Mary. They did so, and the divine Mother answered: 

“You do not know the sinful life he has led, and that he had not even thought of saying a Hail Mary in My Honor.” 

But his advocates answered: 

“Oh Lady, he will change his life” and the youth added: 

“Yes, I promise really to amend, and I will be Thy servant.” 

Then the Virgin’s anger was appeased, and She said to him: 

“Well, I accept your promise be faithful to Me, and meanwhile, with My Blessing, be delivered from hell and death.” 

When She had said this, the Virgin disappeared. Eschylus came to himself, and blessing Mary, related to others the Grace he had received. He lived ever after a Holy life, always preserving a great affection towards the Blessed Virgin, and was made Archbishop of the Church of Lude, in Denmark, where he converted many to the Faith. Towards the close of his life, being old, he resigned from being the Archbishop and became a Monk of Clairvaux, where he lived four years, and died a Holy death. Hence he has been numbered by some writers among the saints of the Cistercian order.  

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The Gifts of the Blessed Virgin Mary 

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In the country of Normandy, a certain robber was beheaded, and his head was thrown into a trench. But afterwards, it was heard crying: “Mary, give me Confession.” A Priest went to him and heard his confession and questioning him as to his practices of devotion, the robber answered that he had no other except that of fasting one day of the week in honor of the Holy Virgin, and that for this our Lady had obtained for him the Grace to be delivered from hell by that Confession.

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The Power of a Hail Mary

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There was once in Germany, a certain criminal condemned to death, but he was obstinate and refused to make his Confession, though a Jesuit father did his utmost to convert him. He entreated him, he wept, he cast himself at his feet; but seeing that all was in vain, he finally said:

Let us recite a Hail Mary.” 

No sooner had the criminal recited it than he began to cry bitterly, made his confession with much compunction, and wished to die clasping the image of Mary.

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The Grace of a Hail Mary 

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In the city of Spain, there lived a sinful man who had given himself to the devil, and had never been to confession. He did nothing good but say a “Hail Mary” every day. Father Eusebius Nierembergh relates, that when this man was at the point of death the most holy Virgin appeared to him in a dream and looked on him, her kind eyes so changed him that he immediately sent for a Confessor, made his Confession with a voice broken by sobs, made a vow to become a religious if he should live, and then died.

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A Letter from Mary

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Young Lady Jane was as sweet as she was lovely. Being the daughter of a prince, the whole world lay before her, full of possibilities. At a young age, Jane chose the road less traveled, that of giving her life to her Savior as His bride. With her parents’ blessings, she entered a Monastery, not too distant from her ancestral home. Sadly, the discipline of this monastery was so relaxed, that, although she was a young person of good intentions, she advanced but little in virtue. 

But her Divine Spouse watched over Jane and sent her a blessing in the form of a Holy confessor. This devout man of God recognized Jane’s plight, (though she herself did not), and with all seriousness implored her to pray the Rosary every day.

With youthful enthusiasm Jane took her confessor’s advice to heart and she began to say the Rosary, daily thinking about the mysteries as she prayed. This simple devotion caused her to become so changed that she was an example to all.

Unfortunately, her fervor pricked the consciences of those who enjoyed the laxity allowed in the Monastery. The other Religious, taking offence at her for withdrawing from them, attacked her on all sides, to induce her to abandon her newly-begun way of life. 

One day while she was repeating the Rosary, and praying to Mother Mary to assist her in this persecution, she saw a letter fall from above. The paper was of purest white, feeling almost silky to Jane’s touch. The script flowed along the page as if it were dancing the most elegant of dances. On the outside were written these words: “Mary, Mother of God, to Her daughter Jane, greetings” and within the letter was written:

“My dear child, continue to say My Rosary, withdraw from conversation with those who do not help you to live well. Beware of idleness and vanity. Take from your cell two superfluous things, and I will be your protectress with God.” 

The young Nun kept her letter close and read it often. More importantly, she followed her Mother’s gentle advice to the letter and continued to hold fast in the face of persecution. It is no small thing to remain close to Our Lady while being deprived of human companionship, but Jane did all within her power to please her “protectress.” 

It was not long before the abbot of that monastery paid a visited. Seeing the lack of discipline and virtue among the majority of its inhabitants, he attempted to reform it, but did not succeed. 

One day, to his horror, he saw a great number of demons entering the cells of all the Nuns, except that of Jane. Drawing closer to the favored cell, the abbot came upon Jane kneeling before an image of Our Lady. At one glance, the Abbot could see that same Heavenly Mother banishing the demons from Jane’s cell. He quietly withdrew and entered the gardens to pray for guidance. 

After a time, he called the young Nun to his side, asking her the most general questions about her life in the Monastery and her religious practices. When he heard from her of the devotion to the Rosary which she practiced, and the letter she had received from above, everything became clear. He now had a sure means of reform for the entire monastery! He ordered all the others to repeat it, and it is related that this monastery soon became a paradise under the gentle gaze of its Protectress.

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The Hermit and The Devil 

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A hermit of Mount Olivet had in his cell a holy image of Mary, and frequently offered up prayers before it. The devil could not endure such devotion to the Holy Virgin, and tormented him continually with temptations against purity and the poor old hermit finding himself still pursued by them, notwithstanding all his prayers and mortifications, said one day to the enemy: “What have I done to you, that you will not leave me in peace?”

And the demon appeared to him and answered: “You torment me more than I torment you” and then he added: “Now come, and swear secrecy to me, and I will tell you what you must cease to do, if you wish me not to molest you any more.”

The hermit took the oath, and then the devil said to him: “I wish you never again to approach that image that you have in your cell.”

The hermit was greatly perplexed, and went to take counsel of the Abbot Theodore, who told him that he was not bound by his oath, and that he must not cease to recommend himself to Mary before that image, as he had done before. The hermit obeyed, and the devil was put to shame and conquered.

Source:

Most Stories Taken From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori and Other Sources.

Apparitions And History Of Our Lady Of Pontmain, France. 

Apparitions And History Of Our Lady Of Pontmain, France. 

On January 17, 1871, Eugene Barbadette (12) and brother, Joseph (10) heard the priest pray through Blessed Mary at Mass for mercy to come to the area. Paris was already besieged by Prussian forces, and war-torn France was in complete disarray. The little town of Laval nearby would be the next to fall to the invading Prussians.

That wintry night, looking outside the family’s barn at 6:00 p.m., Eugene noticed in the cold starry night that a section of the sky was without stars. Suddenly, in that very area, a young woman of 18 years old appeared to be hovering in the sky and smiling down at him. She was strikingly beautiful and wearing a dark blue dress covered with stars and a black veil with a golden crown on top. He gasped a yell of surprise, and brother, Joseph came to him and stared up at the apparition as well. Their parents then came to see what was going on but could not see what the boys continued to marvel at. The mother boxed their ears, scolded them, and then forced them to come in and eat dinner.

They ate hastily, rushed back outside, and again saw the beautiful lady in the sky. Joseph records the details later in his writings as follows:

“In the air above Augustin Guidecoq’s house, I saw a woman of extraordinary beauty. She appeared to be young, about 18-20 years of age and tall of stature. She was clad in a garment of deep blue. When we were told to describe exactly the shade of blue, we could only do so by comparing it to balls of indigo such as laundresses use for rinsing linen. Her dress was covered with golden stars, pentagonal in form, all of the same size and brilliant, but without emitting rays. They were not very numerous and seemed scattered over the blue without regard to method. The blue garment was ample, showing certain strongly marked folds, and without girdle or compression of any kind from the neck to the feet. The sleeves were ample and long, falling over the hands. 

On the feet, which the dress left uncovered, were chaussons (shoes), the same blue as the dress, and ornamented with golden bows. On the head was a black veil, half covering the forehead, concealing the hair and ears, and falling over the shoulders. Above this was a golden crown resembling a diadem, higher in front than elsewhere and widening out at the sides. A red line encircled the crown at about the middle. The hands were small and extended toward us as in the ‘miraculous medal’ but without emitting rays. 

The face was slightly oval. To the freshness of youth was added exquisite delicacy of feature and of tint, the complexion being pale rather than otherwise. Smiles of ineffable sweetness played about the mouth. The eyes, of unutterable tenderness, were fixed on us. I give up further attempting to describe the beautiful figure of her who looked down upon us and smiled. Like a true mother, she seemed happier in looking at us than we in contemplating her”

But when a local nun heard the startled mother’s story, she reminded her that Mary often comes to young children. Going on the theory that maybe only children could see Mary, she brought two young girls, Francoise Richer and JeanneMarie Lebosse (ages 9 and 11) from the convent school to the family’s farm. The nun made certain to not tell the young girls anything. Although not having heard what the two brothers had seen, the two young girls immediately began describing, excitedly, the exact same image of the Virgin Mary down to the last precise detail. 

Clusters of people began to gather — within 20 minutes after this vision had begun — yet, none of the adults could see anything. Three more small children began pointing at the sky and describing the same apparition of Mary. Even a two-year old in her mother’s arms started clapping with joy, looking up into the sky, and holding out her arms as if wanting Our Blessed Mother to come pick her up. A total of about 60 villagers gathered before the barn and knelt in the snow to begin praying. Sister Mary Edward began leading the Rosary. The children reported that Our Lady smiled throughout the Rosary, appearing very much alive and showing the dazzling whiteness of her teeth.

Afterward, Father Guerin led in singing hymns and reciting other prayers. The children reported that the Lady became more beautiful and her garments more intense in illumination in proportion to the devotion of the people. “Oh, there are so many stars (on her dress) that the Blessed Virgin will soon be gilt (golden) all over.”

The four young children who could describe what was happening said that three bright stars formed a triangle around Mary. A darker blue oval backdrop appeared and formed around her. Two candles appeared inside the oval on either side of her shoulders. Two more candles appeared inside the oval on either side of her knees. A small red heart appeared on her left side. About forty stars only visible to the children gathered beneath her feet. The villagers were all able to witness the formation of the three stars in a triangle.

As Sister Mary Edward began the Magnificat, the children cried out that the image was changing again. A white band about a yard wide unrolled itself under her feet and extended across the roof of Guidecoq’s house. These words appeared on the banner:

“Mais priez, mes enfants.” (But pray, my children).

As the Magnificat continued, the dreadful news arrived that the Prussians were now at nearby Laval and heading soon towards Pontmain. More letters appeared on the banner:

“Dieu vous exaucera en peu de temps.” (God will hear you in a little while).

“Mon fils se laisse toucher.” (My Son permits Himself to be moved).

So she was telling them that God had heard their prayers and fears about the invasion of soldiers, and that he would answer their needs shortly. He would answer because he is a God who allows himself to be touched by pleading and prayers. The crowd sang hymns, but when “My Sweet Jesus” was sung, the children reported that she looked sad. A blue band, the same color as the sky, began passing over the words and erasing them. As the white banner rolled away, the Virgin lifted her hand to the level of her shoulders. She seemed to be moving her fingers and speaking, but nothing was heard.

Her hands were then joined over her heart and a large red cross with a darker red image of Jesus appeared in her hands. A star seemed to move and light four candles about her. When the crowd sang Ave Maris Stella, the red crucifix disappeared and a small white cross about eight inches high appeared on each of her shoulders. Mary looked upwards. Prayers continued and Mary smiled as the crosses disappeared. She opened her arms outward and downward. A white veil appeared at her feet and rose slowly upward until Our Lady was completely concealed by it.

It was now about 9:00 p.m., the experience had lasted a total of three hours!
By the next morning the town learned that the Prussian soldiers had witnessed a vision of the Virgin Mary on the outskirts of their town. The startled and frightened soldiers had told their Prussian superiors:

“Madonna is guarding the country and forbidding us to advance!  We can go no further – an invisible Madonna is barring the way.” 

Within eleven days the Prussian soldiers had mysteriously retreated and abandoned the country they had planned to invade and occupy. A truce was signed and the war ended.

After a thorough investigation, the ecclesiastical authority fully approved in February of 1875 the appearances of the Virgin Mary in Pontmain. The Barbadette barn first became a chapel, and then a large basilica, years later in 1900, for “Our Lady of Hope.”

Joseph Barbadette became a priest and a member of the Congregation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Brother Eugene became a priest of the archdiocese. Francoise Richer became a housekeeper for a priest, and Jeanne-Marie Lebosse became a nun.

The Forgotten Story – Do You Know The Blessed Virgin Mary Had A Midwife During The Time Of Her Childbirth? 

The Forgotten Story – Do You Know The Blessed Virgin Mary Had A Midwife During The Time Of Her Childbirth? 

Still in the octave of Christmas, the image of Jesus’ birth in the manger — complete with Mary and Joseph kneeling over the infant, the three wise men, an angel and the animals looking on — still adorn our various parishes and homes. But research reveals that there was most likely someone else in the background. A midwife.


None of the Gospels in the Bible provide much detail about the actual birth of Jesus; Luke merely says that Mary gave birth to him, and Matthew says even less. But religious researchers frequently quote a text called the Protoevangelium of James, which was omitted from the New Testament. This ancient translation is much more detailed about the birth and mentions two midwives being present, one of whom plays the key role of attesting to Mary’s virginity. 

Though that gospel is apocryphal, experts in such matters think that Mary would indeed have been assisted in giving birth, and the midwives made their way into medieval Nativity Plays and religious art.

When most of us imagine the scene of Jesus’ birth, we naturally think of Mary and Joseph, alone in a stable with animals surrounding them. This image is usually preceded by a worried Joseph arriving in Bethlehem in the middle of the night, not finding any place for them in the inn.

While it certainly sets the stage for a dramatic telling of Jesus’ birth, it neglects both biblical and historical facts that paint a different picture.

First of all, Mary and Joseph were already in Bethlehem for a number of days. Luke tells us plainly, “And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem … And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered” (Luke 2: 4-6).

Another translation makes it even clearer, “And it came to pass, that when they were there, her days were accomplished, that she should be delivered.” (Douay-Rehims).

No sense of urgency is present in the text, which makes it likely that Mary and Joseph had ample time to prepare for her delivery and to seek out a local midwife.

Midwives have been around for thousands of years and are even mentioned in the Old Testament and play a pivotal role in the story of Moses.

Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiph′rah and the other Pu′ah, “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, she shall live. But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live.” (Exodus 1:1517).

It would have been strange for Joseph to be alone with Mary for the birth of Jesus. Even though Joseph had great faith in God and trusted that Jesus was to be the Messiah, men at that time weren’t trained on how to deliver a child. Being an honest man, Joseph would have sought out help from a local midwife, realizing his lack of knowledge in that area.

Added to this historical knowledge, an ancient text from the year 145 called The Protoevangelium of James tells the story of Mary’s midwife and another woman who assisted at the birth.

And I [Joseph] saw a woman coming down from the hill-country, and she said to me: O man, whither are you going? And I said: I am seeking an Hebrew midwife. And she answered and said to me: Are you of Israel? And I said to her: Yes. And she said: And who is it that is bringing forth in the cave? And I said: A woman betrothed to me.

And the midwife went away with him. And they stood in the place of the cave, and behold a luminous cloud overshadowed the cave. And the midwife said: My soul has been magnified this day, because my eyes have seen strange things — because salvation has been brought forth to Israel. And immediately the cloud disappeared out of the cave, and a great light shone in the cave, so that the eyes could not bear it. And in a little that light gradually decreased, until the infant appeared, and went and took the breast from His mother Mary. And the midwife cried out, and said: This is a great day to me, because I have seen this strange sight. And the midwife went forth out of the cave, and Salome met her. And she said to her: Salome, Salome, I have a strange sight to relate to you: a virgin has brought forth — a thing which her nature admits not of.

While the text is not considered inspired, it does point to a historical reality that was likely true. It made practical sense that Joseph sought out a midwife. Whether she assisted at the actual delivery is another question, but a midwife’s services extended to care for the infant as well.

Ancient Orthodox and Byzantine icons recall this truth and often feature Mary’s midwife in the corner of the icon, bathing the newborn Christ child.

What exactly transpired on that marvelous night will always remain a mystery, but biblical and historical evidence can help shed a little light on a birth that changed the world.

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