September 8 – The Davidic ancestry of Mary

September 5, 2013

As we celebrate the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, let us recall her Davidic ancestry.

Painting from the Cathedral at Limburg showing the genealogy of Our Lady and Our Lord, also known as the Tree of Jesse.

Painting from the Cathedral at Limburg showing the genealogy of Our Lady and Our Lord, also known as the Tree of Jesse.

St. Luke (2:4) says that St. Joseph went from Nazareth to Bethlehem to be enrolled, “because he was of the house and family of David”. As if to exclude all doubt concerning the Davidic descent of Mary, the Evangelist (1:32, 69) states that the Child born of Mary without the intervention of man shall be given “the throne of David His father”, and that the Lord God has “raised up a horn of salvation to us in the house of David his servant”. [1]


St. Paul too testifies that Jesus Christ “was made to him [God] of the seed of David, according to the flesh” (Romans 1:3). If Mary were not of Davidic descent, her Son conceived by the Holy Ghost could not be said to be “of the seed of David”. Hence commentators tell us that in the text “in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God…to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David” (Luke 1:26-27); the last clause “of the house of David” does not refer to Joseph, but to the virgin who is the principal person in the narrative; thus we have a direct inspired testimony to Mary’s Davidic descent. [2]

St. Anne, Our Lady and the Infant Jesus. Statue in Triana, Seville, Spain.

St. Anne, Our Lady and the Infant Jesus. Statue in Triana, Seville, Spain.

While commentators generally agree that the genealogy found at the beginning of the first Gospel is that of St. Joseph, Annius of Viterbo proposes the opinion, already alluded to by St. Augustine, that St. Luke’s genealogy gives the pedigree of Mary. The text of the third Gospel (3:23) may be explained so as to make Heli the father of Mary: “Jesus…being the son (as it was supposed of Joseph) of Heli”, or “Jesus…being the son of Joseph, as it was supposed, the son of Heli” (Lightfoot, Bengel, etc.), or again “Jesus…being as it was supposed the son of Joseph, who was [the son-in-law] of Heli” [3]. In these explanations the name of Mary is not mentioned explicitly, but it is implied; for Jesus is the Son of Heli through Mary.

[1] cf. Tertullian, de carne Christi, 22; P.L., II, 789; St. Aug., de cons. Evang., II, 2, 4; P.L., XXXIV, 1072.

[2] Cf. St. Ignat., ad Ephes, 187; St. Justin, c. Taryph., 100; St. Aug., c. Faust, xxiii, 5-9; Bardenhewer, Maria Verkundigung, Freiburg, 1896, 74-82; Friedrich, Die Mariologie des hl. Augustinus, Cöln, 1907, 19 sqq.

[3] Jans., Hardin., etc.

The works treating the various questions concerning the name, the birth, the life, and the death of Mary, have been cited in the corresponding parts of this article. We add here only a few names of writers, or of collectors of works of a more general character: BOURASSE, Summa aurea de laudibus B. Mariae Virginis, omnia complectens quae de gloriosa Virgine Deipara reperiuntur (13 vols., Paris, 1866); KURZ, Mariologie oder Lehre der katholischen Kirche uber die allerseligste Jungfrau Maria (Ratisbon, 1881); MARACCI, Bibliotheca Mariana (Rome, 1648); IDEM, Polyanthea Mariana, republished in Summa Aurea, vols IX and X; LEHNER, Die Marienerehrung in den ersten Jahrhunderten (2nd ed., Stuttgart, 1886).

A.J. MAAS (Catholic Encyclopedia) Editorial comment: —

Our Lord Jesus Christ was a prince from the House of David. True, he toiled as a cabinet maker in Nazareth, but, as the Popes remind us, God willed this so that in His Person, Our Lord would unite the two extremes of the social spectrum, the most exalted and the most humble.
Our Lord is the paradigm for the harmony and cohesion that should exist between social classes. The calm and tranquility emanating from His Divine Person should permeate society as well. He is order and peace.
This social harmony could not be more contrary to the Marxist view of perpetual class warfare.


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