From the Pastor: The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
This Wednesday, September 8, we celebrate The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We will have a special high Mass at 8:00 am instead of the usual low Mass at that time. Below is an excerpt from The Golden Legend as it describes some early scholars’ attempts to outline the lineage of Our Lady. What they describe is not Gospel. Some authors will refute some of what is written here, as, for instance, Fr. Leonard Goffine in The Church Year states that Luke’s Gospel contains the lineage of Mary rather than that of Joseph. The uncertainty does not detract from the theory!
The nativity of the blessed and glorious Virgin Mary, of the lineage of Judah and of the royal kindred of David took her original beginning. Matthew and Luke describe not the generation of Mary but of Joseph, which was far from the conception of Christ. But the custom of writing was of such ordinance that the generation of women is not shown but of the men. And verily the blessed Virgin descended of the lineage of David, and it is certain that Jesus Christ was born of this only Virgin. It is certain that he came of the lineage of David and of Nathan, for David had two sons, Nathan and Solomon among all his other sons. And as John Damascene witnesses that of Nathan descended Levy, and Levy engendered Melchion and Panthar, Panthar engendered Barpanthar, Barpanthar engendered Joachim, Joachim engendered the Virgin Mary, which was of the lineage of Solomon. For Nathan had a wife, of whom he engendered Jacob, and when Nathan was dead Melchion, which was son of Levy and brother of Panthar, wedded the wife of Nathan, mother of Jacob, and on her he engendered Eli, and so Jacob and Eli were brethren of one mother but not of one father. For Jacob was of the line of Solomon and Eli of the line of Nathan, and then Eli of the line of Nathan died without children, and Jacob his brother, which was of the line of Solomon, took a wife and engendered and raised the seed of his brother and engendered Joseph.
Joseph then by nature is son of Jacob by descent of Solomon. That is to wit, Joseph is the son of Jacob, and after the law he is son of Eli which descended of Nathan. for the son that was born, was by nature his that engendered him, and by the law he was son of him that was dead, like as it is said in the History Scholastic. And Bede witnesses in his chronicle that, when all the generations of the Hebrews and other strangers were kept in the most secret chests of the temple, Herod commanded them to be burnt, wishing thereby to make himself noble among the others. If the proofs of the lineages were failed, he should make them believe that his lineage appertained to them of Israel. And there were some that were called dominics, because they were so nigh to Jesus Christ and were of Nazareth, and they had learned the order of generation of our Lord, a part of their grandsires' fathers, and a part by some books that they had in their houses and taught them forth as much as they might. Joachim spoused Anne, which had a sister named Hismeria, and Hismeria had two daughters, named Elizabeth, and Elind. Elizabeth was mother to John Baptist, and Eliud engendered Eminen. And of Eminen came S. Servatius, whose body lies in Maestricht, upon the river of the Meuse, in the bishopric of Liège. And Anne had three husbands, Joachim, Cleophas, and Salome; and of the first she had a daughter named Mary, the Mother of God, the which was given to Joseph in marriage, and she childed our Lord Jesus Christ. And when Joachim was dead, she took Cleophas, the brother of Joseph, and had by him another daughter named Mary also, and she was married to Alpheus. And Alpheus her husband had by her four sons, that was James the Less, Joseph the Just, otherwise named Barsabee, Simon, and Jude. Then the second husband being dead, Anne married the third named Salome, and had by him another daughter which yet also was called Mary, and she was married to Zebedee. And this Mary had of Zebedee two sons, that is to wit, James the More, and John the Evangelist...
But it is marvellous for to see how the blessed Virgin Mary might be cousin of Elizabeth as it is tofore said. It is certain that Elizabeth was Zachary's wife, which was of the lineage of Levi, and after the law each ought to wed a wife of his own lineage. And she was of the daughters of Aaron, as S. Luke witnesses, and Anne was of Bethlehem, as S. Jerome says, and was of the tribe of Judah. And then they of the line of Levi wedded wives of the line of Judah, so that the line royal and the line of the priests were always joined together by cousinage... And our blessed Lady was of both lineages, and so our Lord would that these two lineages should entresemble together for great mystery. For it appertains that he should be born and offered for us, very God, and very king, and very priest...
There is, of course, too much to reproduce here. But I hope you enjoyed reading about one possible explanation for Jesus’ “brethren” and a bit about His family ties to biblical characters and even apostles. There is always more to read and learn...
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka