Mary, Jesus, and the Midwives?

December 23 2012 by Kelly O'Brien Pahman
Last year about this time I came across a blog post asking: Did Mary Have a Midwife?

I gave a very enthused response (to which there were more impassioned responses) and vowed to write a post on it this year.

When I was flirting with jumping the great schism and joining the Eastern Orthodox Church I was thrilled to hear that they hold a deep and longstanding tradition that Mary did indeed have labor support. I had first really read about it when I read The Lost Gospel of Mary by Frederica Mathewes-Green. 

Let me endearingly call her Frederica, *clears throat* Frederica shares about Mary's life in a wonderous way that I had never before heard. She includes the text of the Protoevangelium of James which was recorded during the second century and is believed to contain oral traditions of the events that surrounded Christ's birth that were not included in the gospel accounts. This account tells the story of Mary's conception and birth. It speaks of Jaochim and Ana's struggle to conceive (Jesus is human and has grandparents!), the gift of Mary and her dedication to the temple (much like Hannah & Samuel). It talks of when and how Mary was betrothed to Joseph and .... the conception and birth of Christ. Then, almost in passing it mentions Salome.

I realized then that I had seen her in The Icon of the Nativity but had never really recognized her!

There she is in the lower right hand corner bathing Jesus! Its easy to miss her in all of the activity contained in this icon that is jam packed with symbolism (for more check this out).

You can read the text yourself to find out more of the details but here is what I enjoy about St. Salome:

She is believed to be Joseph's daughter from a previous marriage who was with them in Bethlehem. According to the account she was sent to get a midwife and acted as an assistant.Simular to Thomas she doubted the virgin birth. Her doubts were addressed and she believed. The whole of Jesus' life she was there. She is believed to be the mother of James and John. It is likely she was present at Christ's death. She is one of the three Mary's at the tomb with his resurrection. Birth. Life. Death. Resurrection.

Our priest Fr. Nick says that you know Christ is who he says he is because even his family believed. Many of them doubted, like St. Salome, but eventually even their skepticism was overcome.

I hope you enjoy this holiday season and that you have a very merry Christmas.



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