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 Mary's Story  

Mary, the Galilean peasant girl who became the most famous woman in the world
 Jesus, her complicated, restless, brilliant son
Joseph, the man of integrity who married Mary and became foster father to her son

The Girl Becomes a Woman

In about 5BC a young Jewish peasant girl called  Mary menstruated for the first time. In the crowded little two-room house she lived in, everyone knew about it and saw it as cause for celebration.

 The dark-haired, laughing women of her family gathered around her with singing, good food and raucous jokes, to mark her entrance into womanhood. This was peasant society at its best, with Mary at its center.

What did she look like, this girl who became the most famous woman in history?

 Probably less than five feet tall, robust, sturdy, with plump little breasts and strong brown hands callused from work, and glossy black hair with a line of red or purple dye running down the center parting. Modest pieces of jewelry around her face showed she was respectable, from a decent, established family.  

Her clothes were homespun wool or linen, loose-fitting, in one of the soft colors of natural dyes - cream, a deep faded pink, or a soft blue-grey.  She wore leather ankle-length boots in winter, sandals in summer, and cut her dusty toenails with a sharp knife.

Choosing a Husband

Now that Mary's menstrual periods had started, serious consideration had to be given to the choice of a husband. It was taken for granted she would marry. God had commanded  Noah to 'be fruitful and multiply', and Jews were happy to comply. Any person who was past the age of twenty and still unmarried had not carried out the will of God.

Bedouin girl, 19th century photographThe man they settled on was Joseph, a young man not much older than she was. Joseph was well-regarded by the people around him - Matthew's gospel called him 'just' or 'righteous'.  

The proposed marriage contract was worked out between the families of Mary and Joseph. The amount of her dowry was settled, hopefully enough to act as an income for her should she be abandoned or widowed. Mary's engagement then went ahead – with another big celebration.

Mary Becomes Pregnant

The next thing we know, Mary's menstrual periods had stopped. She was pregnant. Mediterranean families are not known for their reticence in such a situation, and in Mary's conservative Jewish family her pregnancy meant disgrace for all her family.

Matthew's gospel makes it clear that Joseph knew he was not the father, yet severely embarrassed as he was by Mary's pregnancy, he decided to marry her.  The  marriage ceremony went ahead, and Mary and Joseph became husband and wife at a village knees-up echoed in the later story of the marriage feast Mary attended at the nearby village of Cana.

A Boy is Born

Kissing the Face of God, Morgan WeistlingSome months later,  Mary gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Once washed, the baby was presented to its waiting father, in this case Joseph. He 'named' the baby, calling him Jesus. By doing so, he accepted legal responsibility for this newborn child.

In  Nazareth Mary's life revolved around her home, a mud brick house with a courtyard and two rooms - a front, public room with an awning, and a private room behind it. The house had a flat roof with exterior stairs  and an awning of woven goats' hair to protect against the sun. This was used by the women as a work-space, an extra room. The inside of the house was quite comfortable, though minimalist by modern standards.

The Festival in Jerusalem

The routine of daily life was broken several times a year by festivals, when Mary and Joseph would travel to  Jerusalem to visit the Temple and offer sacrifice there.

Finding Jesus in the Temple,
On one of these visits, Mary's son Jesus was lost for three days in the crowded city streets, and she and Joseph hunted for him frantically, eventually finding him talking to scholars in the Temple precincts. They seemed to be treating her son as an equal, which made her realize something she'd suspected for a while: that he wasn't like the other children, that he had a special destiny.

Movie review of Mary of Nazareth 2013, (Maria di Nazaret)

Posted by Dominic de Souza on Sep 28, 2013 in Articles, Blog, Movie Review | 4 comments          

Movie review of Mary of Nazareth 2013, (Maria di Nazaret)          

Writing this review feels like sharing a love letter. This is the first time I've ever seen the Blessed Mother portrayed with such tenderness, joy and reverence, at the same time with such humanity, pain and hope. ‘Mary of Nazareth' feels like every Christmas card and painting of Mary brought into a single, enchanting vision of her life, from childhood to the Resurrection of her Son, Jesus Christ.

To quote the official website, www.maryfilm.com,"This full-length feature film about the life of Our Lady, shot in English in High Definition, was filmed in Europe in very authentic locales with outstanding cinematography, a strong cast, and a majestic music score. Actress Alissa Jung gives a beautiful, compelling and inspired portrayal of Mary."

I would say *Spoiler Alert*, but everyone knows the beautiful story of the Lord's Handmaid. This rendition throws into focus fresh aspects of her life and her mission, and we are introduced into a new side of Mary; we've seen the story so often, that we forget that real people lived through without hindsight. They had to make their choices in faith.

‘Mary of Nazareth' brings us insights into her daily life, the daily Mary.

A personal note; I watched the full, 4 hour version available through Netflix. The theatrical release is edited down to 153 minutes through Ignatius Press.
•Read what Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said about Mary of Nazareth
•Read the endorsements from Fr Don Calloway,


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