St. Mary of Clopas—At the Cross, A First to See the Risen Christ

“Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala.” (John 19:25)

Rogier van der Weyden, “The Deposition” (detail), c. 1435
Rogier van der Weyden, “The Deposition” (detail), c. 1435 (photo: Public Domain)

Due to the numerous Marys in the New Testament, extra care is needed to pick out Mary, the wife of Clopas, and clearly see her role in Jesus’ life. By examining and comparing the Crucifixion scene as described by the different Gospel writers, most biblical historians have concluded that the Mary of Clopas found in John’s Gospel was likely the same as “Mary, the mother of James and Joseph” found in Matthew’s Crucifixion narration as well as “Mary, the mother of the younger James and of Joses” found in Mark’s version. Mark further explains that Mary of Clopas was one of the women from Galilee who had often accompanied Jesus during his mission and assisted him in his works.

After despondently viewing the death of their Lord, Mary of Clopas and her Christian sisters from Galilee wanted to anoint Jesus’ body with spices. However, the Sabbath was rapidly approaching, so the women put the anointing on hold until very early Sunday morning and only then went to the tomb to tend to the chore. As Mary of Clopas, Mary Magdalene, and Salome approached the tomb, they were startled to see that the stone used for closing the burial location had been moved. As they entered the tomb, they were further amazed to see an angel of God sitting at the tomb (two angels according to Luke and John). This angel told the women that Jesus had been raised and instructed them to go tell the disciples that Jesus was alive.

Trembling with fear and elation, Mary of Clopas and her friends rushed off to share the miraculous news―only to meet Jesus on their way to see the disciples! Overwhelmed with love and bliss, they fell to their knees and embraced his feet. Jesus eased their anxieties and gave them the encouragement they needed to confidently proclaim this good news. They then rushed to tell the disciples all that had happened.

Mary of Clopas is often connected to St. Cleopas who journeyed to Emmaus with Jesus—and that perhaps Mary of Clopas was even the unnamed traveling companion. Many biblical scholars assert that Clopas and Cleopas are the same. Although not specifically named, it is likely that Mary of Clopas was present with the many other followers of Christ at Pentecost.


A Novena of Days with St. Mary of Clopas

Older saint books probably have the feast of St. Mary of Clopas listed as April 9; however, in the updated 2004 edition of the Roman Martyrology, you will find that she now shares a feast day with another Holy Galilean Woman, St. Salome—on April 24. Some might suggest that St. Mary of Clopas could be called a Patroness of Caretakers due to the way she tended to Jesus so devoutly. Consider trying to step up your knowledge of St. Mary of Clopas; below are nine passages from Scripture that can be explored, discussed, and pondered. Try reading one a day, do some journaling if inspiration hits, and see how your perspective of St. Mary of Clopas might shift.

  • Day 1) Matthew 27:55–61
  • Day 2) Matthew 28:1–10
  • Day 3) Mark 15:40-41, 47
  • Day 4) Mark 16:1–8
  • Day 5) Luke 23:49
  • Day 6) Luke 23:54–56
  • Day 7) Luke 24:1-12, 13-18
  • Day 8) John 19:25
  • Day 9) Acts 1:13-14