This week’s Question: “What is the ‘Falling Asleep of the Mother of God’?”
The answer to last week’s Question: “Did St. Joseph have another wife?” An ancient tradition, which is accepted by the Eastern Orthodox Churches as authoritative, says that Joseph was an elderly widower with a grown up family of sons and daughters when he became engaged to Mary. This account appears in the second-century apocryphal gospel – the Protoevangelium of James. This source was quoted by the early Christian theologian Origen, as well as the Church Father, St. Clement of Alexandria, and the early Christian apologist and martyr, St. Justin. On the basis of this tradition, the Scriptural references to the “brothers and sisters of the Lord,” would refer to the children of St. Joseph’s first marriage, who would be the step-children of Mary. In Christian art up until the present, St. Joseph was usually depicted as elderly, based on this tradition.
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