Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Mary, Mary, Mary
I'm trying to stock up on saints for the upcoming Christmas rush, such as it is over at the shop. I have always been surprised at which saints are the most popular. I would have guessed that St. Ann would be a hot potato. Not that she never sells, but considering that the shop is on a site chock full of sewers, meaning people who sew, not where the dirty water goes, you'd think I'd never be able to keep enough St. Ann's around.
We love St. Ann, don't we? The patron saint of grandmothers, mothers and seamstresses. The truth is she doesn't even make an appearance in the New Testament. Mary's mother is never mentioned at all. Neither is her father. What we think about St. Ann comes from Sacred Tradition. What we know about St. Ann is this: nothing. Not her name, her husband's name, how many other children she may or may not have had, how the family made money, what her hobbies were, if she was a good cook or not. And if she ever sewed a stitch.
We could assume a woman living in those times would have had to sew something a few times. There is a difference between sewing for necessity and being a 'seamstress'. 'Seamstress' implies special skills. I can sew. (If you stand over me with a club.) Sister St. Aloysius is a seamstress.
So I understand that there may be some confusion about St. Ann and what we know about her. But this takes the cakes.
Hey Sister... awesome blog... I don't really know how to contact you other than by comment, so I'll ask my question(s) here in the hopes that you'll notice and answer it (them): Just how many husbands did Saint Anne have? One? Two? Three? Seven? What? Also, how many Marys did she give birth to? I've heard that, in addition to Jesus' mom, she had Mary Cleophas, Mary Salome, Mary Jacobe, et al... so, what's the story here?
Well, I managed to find a source that actually yammers on about all of this. This is the problem with the internet. Just because it's printed here doesn't make it true or even plausible.
The beginning of this saga is a part of Sacred Tradition, that Ann was barren and then had Mary. The rest is.....I don't know what to call it. An over active imagination.
Mary Cleophas and Mary Salome are identified in the New Testament as women who were at the foot of the Cross. After that you're on your own trying to figure out their exact familial relationship to Jesus. Prepare to have your eyes glaze over. Here is what the Catholic Encyclopedia has to say on the subject.
So it appears that the first twisted tale, that makes St. Ann sound a little like some sort of black widow with a string of dead husbands, is a tortured attempt at explaining who these women were.
And after reading the Catholic Encyclopedia's clear as mud explanation, I prefer to chuck the whole thing into the Sacred Mysteries bin.
Sacred Mystery is Catholic for "just let it go."