Saint of the Day – 22 October – Saint Mary Salome (First Century) Disciple of Jesus, wife of Zebedee and Mother of Saints James and John, Apostles. She appears briefly in the canonical gospels and in apocryphal writings. She is named by Mark as present at the Crucifixion and as one of the women who found Jesus’s tomb empty. Interpretation has further identified her with other women who are mentioned but not named in the canonical gospels. In particular, she is identified as the wife of Zebedee, the mother of James and John, two of the Twelve apostles. In medieval tradition Salome (as Mary Salome) was counted as one of the Three Marys who were daughters of Saint Anne, so making her the sister or half-sister of Mary, the Blessed Virgin Mother of Jesus. Patronage – Veroli, Italy.
Like the Jewish greeting “Shalom” and the Arab “Salaam,” Salome is based on an Aramaic word meaning health and peace. It would be hard to think of a more fitting name for a mother.
It is quite probable that Salome was the sister of the Blessed Virgin and it is certain that she was the wife of Zebedee and the mother of James the Greater and John the Evangelist (Matthew 20:20; 27:56). In the Gospel of St Matthew (20:20ff) it is written: “Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Him with her sons and did Him homage, wishing to ask Him for something. He said to her, ‘What do you wish?’ She answered Him, ‘Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at Your right and the other at Your left, in Your kingdom.”
Salome was one of the women who followed Jesus and served him (Mark 15:41), witnessed His Crucifixion and death at Calvary (Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40) and who brought spices to embalm Him on Easter morning (Mark 16:1ff) (Delaney, Encyclopedia). Legend says that after the Resurrection she went to Veroli, Italy and spent the rest of her life there spreading the Good News.
In art, Mary Salome is shown with her two sainted children (James and John) in her arms. Occasionally Mary Salome is present at the Nativity because there is a legend that the doubting Salome was a midwife, who came, unbelieving, to the stable at Bethlehem and was converted (cf. Jameson, Legends of the Madonna). Sometimes Mary Salome together with Mary Cleophas support the Virgin at the Crucifixion or they are present with Mary Magdalene at the Resurrection.