Mariamne III the Virgin Orphan could be vilified for her Herodian blood by her own people, but also celebrated for her Hasmonean blood. Her direct descent from Mariamne I, the Great Queen, was a key to understanding her. The Queen was beloved by the multitudes but also vilified by priests and “certain Pharisees” for marrying Herod and polluting the royal Hasmonean line. She was executed for adultery/unchastity which Josephus said was untrue and he sought to rectify the record.
And thus died Mariamne, a woman of an excellent character, both for chastity and greatness of soul…Antiquities of the Jews XV.VII.6
She is virtually unknown today, I think, because she legitimized Herod as king and her heirs were known as Herodian.
But Mariamne III’s followers, I believe, saw her as they saw Jerusalem, as a beleaguered and possibly abused but true Daughter of Zion; a queen mother in exile, fighting to return her son to his rightful place. Josephus has given hints, too, of other Hasmonean women who were honored. Remember that Simon brother of Judas Maccabeus built seven pyramids for his family that included one for his mother. And, we’ve seen how John Hyrcanus may have tried to deify his martyred mother after she showered rain on him from the seven stars, the Pleiades, that saved him when besieged, and then the “rain in the nighttime” that saved the young betrothed Mariamne the Queen when she was besieged in the desert and their water ran out.
The Jews had the concept of a “blessed memory” for women but would have been horrified at anything more as we saw with the slanders brought against John Hyrcanus and his mother. And, as we have seen, Mary, too, was embattled with slanders and I have come to believe, was also blamed for her son’s death. But they could not take away her bloodline and her role as queen mother. One way to understand her role as she saw it and the prophecy/promise she must have felt she had, was with this passage in Micah.
Daughter of Zion/Tower Prophecy
And thou, O tower (Magdal) of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.
Now why dost thou cry out aloud? is there no king in thee? is thy counselor perished? for pangs have taken thee as a woman in travail.
Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail, for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the LORD shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.
Now also many nations are gathered against thee, that say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion. But they know not the thoughts of the LORD, neither understand they his counsel: for he shall gather them as the sheaves into the floor.
Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the LORD of the whole earth. Micah 4:8-13
This prophecy is currently linked to Mary Magdalene by the Jesus-was-married-to-Mary Magdalene faction (see Margaret Starbird’s Woman with the Alabaster Jar and Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code) to make their case that the “daughter of Zion” was the WIFE of Jesus AND bore him a child.
But what better prophecy could you find to fit Mariamne of the Tower—the MOTHER of Jesus. It addresses all her problems—abuse, exile, political enemies, her counselor (Joseph) dying—and makes her woes part of the plan for her son who will yet “Arise and thresh.”
Our Lady of the Pillar
There is an odd thing that happened rather early on regarding Mary that seems to represent an early veneration of her. There is a claim that Mary, while still living in Jerusalem, appeared to James the son of Zebedee while he was out evangelizing in Spain in the year 40 A.D. I’ve quoted Wikipedia for space purposes and included their footnotes…but look it up…One of my purposes for including it here is that if the story goes back to 40 A.D., and that is not often questioned but open to question, of course, the real question is, why is Mary depicted as wearing a crown and often standing on a pillar. [i]
According to ancient Spanish tradition, on October 12, 40 AD, in the early days of Christianity, James the Greater, one of the original Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, was preaching the Gospel in what was then the pagan land of Caesaraugusta (now Zaragoza), in the Roman province of Hispania. He was disheartened with his mission, having made only a few converts. While he was praying by the banks of the Ebro River with some of his disciples, Mary miraculously appeared before him atop a pillar accompanied by angels. Mary assured James that the people would eventually be converted and their faith would be as strong as the pillar she was standing on. She gave him the pillar as a symbol and a wooden image of herself. James was also instructed to build a chapel on the spot where she left the pillar.
It is generally believed that Mary would have appeared to James through bi-location, as she was still living either in Ephesus or Jerusalem at the time of this event. She is believed to have died three to fifteen years after Jesus’ death. After establishing the church, James returned to Jerusalem with some of his disciples where he became a martyr, beheaded in 44 AD under Herod Agrippa. His disciples allegedly returned his body to Spain.
I will go into James’ death in chronological order…but I’m wondering, could the original “pillar” have been an attempt to picture a “tower”? (See Page 6. on this subject.)
- March, J.M. (1911). “Nuestra Señora Del Pilar” from New Advent: The Catholic Encyclopedia”. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 2013-02-26.
- Samaha S.M., John M. “Our Lady of the Pillar”. The Mary Page, University of Dayton. Retrieved on 2013-02-26.
- (2011-10-12). “At the centre of Marian faith: Spain’s National Holiday and the Feast of the Virgin of Pilar”. Custodia Terræ Sanctæ. Retrieved on 2013-02-25.
- Maas, Anthony. “The Blessed Virgin Mary.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 16 Aug. 2014
- Grayson, Janet (2009). “The Feast of the Assumption”. New Advent – Catholic Encyclopedia. Retrieved on 2013-01-25.
- “St. James the Greater”. New Advent – Catholic Encyclopedia. Retrieved on 2013-02-25.
- De Plancy 1852, pg. 263
[i] For instance read Stories of Mary Number 26…The First Marian Shrine, Our Lady of the Pillar; https://www.americaneedsfatima.org/Stories-Of-Mary/stories-of-mary-26-the-first-marian-shrine-our-lady-of-the-pillar.html