painting of virgin mary with baby jesus
Very little is known of Mary's life after her son's death.

Mother’s Day is this Sunday, where we celebrate moms and motherhood with lots of love, hugs, and presents. Families will get together, gifts will be given, and if dear ol’ mom is lucky, she might even get breakfast in bed. 

This Sunday, millions of churchgoing Americans will likely hear about the life of the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, before heading off to a Mother’s Day celebration. They’ll probably learn about her marriage to Joseph, the birth of her son Jesus, and how she raised him in a manger.

But what about her later life? What happened to Mary after Jesus’ ascension to heaven? How did she live, and where did she die?

What happened to the most famous mother of all time?

Mary in the Bible

From Acts 14, we know that Mary was with the apostles in the immediate aftermath of Jesus’ crucifixion, and it is generally held in Christian tradition that she was with the remaining apostles during the Pentecost. We know that Jesus entrusted John the Apostle to look after her until the end of her days.

But then she disappears from the biblical record. Mary is not heard from again, except for a passage in the Book of Revelation.

Here's what Revelation 12:1-6 says:

And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery. And another portent appeared in heaven; behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, that he might devour her child when she brought it forth; she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which to be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

Though Protestants believe this vision of a heavenly woman is merely symbolic of the Church itself, Catholics believe that the mysterious ‘Woman of the Apocalypse’ seen by John in Revelation 12 is in fact Mary. 

Regardless of whether it was really Mary, the appearance here was just a vision. What of her worldly body?

Where in the World Is the Virgin Mary?

Scholars have long tried to piece together Mary’s life after the death of her son. Hippolytus of Thebes posited that Mary lived 11 years after Jesus’ death and ascension, putting her passing in 41 AD.

Many biblical scholars believe that Mary likely lived out the rest of her days in John’s home, though its actual location is a matter of debate.

Jerusalem is a likely answer, but there are other theories, too. 

Because of the mystery surrounding Mary’s later life, rumors began to swirl in the 2nd century, and they never stopped. One legend holds that Joseph of Arimathea, sometimes believed to be Mary’s uncle, took her with him to Glastonbury, England. 

Some believe that she lived out her last days in Meryemana Kultur Parki, or Mary’s House, in Ephesus (located in modern-day Turkey). The 19th-century Catholic mystic Anne Catherine Emmerich had visions of such a home, and in 1891 a team of researchers and explorers discovered the home using her directions.

What Did Mary Look Like?

There's also been a long-running debate about what Mary (and Jesus and Joseph) actually looked like

Although popularly portrayed in art throughout the centuries as having porcelain white skin, there is growing acknowledgment that Mary was likely a darker-skinned Arab woman. She may have even had piercings and dyed skin. 

We explored those ideas in a post on our Facebook page:

What did the "Virgin Mary" really look like? Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a holiday honoring the...

Posted by Universal Life Church Ministries on Wednesday, December 8, 2021

What Happened to Mary After She Died?

Many denominations venerate Mary’s death and ascension as a holiday. Catholics around the world, particularly in South America and Europe, celebrate Assumption Day, where it is believed that Mary immediately ascended to heaven, body and soul.

Meanwhile, some Eastern traditions teach that Mary died of natural causes later in life, and was resurrected after three days, before ascending to heaven.

So, what really happened? Looking at things purely historically, the matter is stubbornly muddy. 

She is absent from the biblical record following her final appearance in Acts, and no reliable historical record exists of her after that. Much of what we do hear about Mary's post-Jesus life is likely early church myth-making.

The answer to what happened to Mary after Jesus’ death is… we simply don’t know. And maybe, like a good mother, she would have wanted the focus on her son, anyway.

49 comments

  1. Parson Golden's Avatar Parson Golden

    Well, since there is as much evidence to support Mary, as there is to support Jesus, I guess it’s all kind of a moot point.

  1. He Who Breathes's Avatar He Who Breathes

    "there is growing acknowledgment that Mary was likely a darker-skinned Arab woman" (What???)

    Oh, thank God - the Jews are off the hook now for being blamed for killing Jeesas.

    Coz, they were all Arabs... (No Jews there... :) - I just love the revised history)

    Yay...

    1. Danny D. Maynard's Avatar Danny D. Maynard

      Hint: There are no white people in the Bible.

      1. He Who Breathes's Avatar He Who Breathes

        Comment removed by user.

        1. Danny D. Maynard's Avatar Danny D. Maynard

          No. I am sure some "northerners" converted, and some ended up marrying into the Jewish faith. International groups always look neutral.

        2. Rev. Michael Gerraghty II's Avatar Rev. Michael Gerraghty II

          There are no white people in the bible.

          1. Richard Mutch's Avatar Richard Mutch

            Genesis 12:11KJV "fair" can be (and has been) translated as Light Skinned. Pastor Richard Mutch.

      2. Russel A. Kester's Avatar Russel A. Kester

        Danny, are you daft? Jews today are genetically consistent with the Jews in the Bible so just look around at Jews and see what they look like. To wit "population genetic studies based on blood groups and serum markers provided evidence that most Jewish Diaspora groups originated in the Middle East and that paired Jewish populations were more similar genetically than paired Jewish and non-Jewish populations (Bonne-Tamir et al. 1978a, b, 1977; Carmelli and Cavalli-Sforza 1979; Karlin et al. 1979; Kobyliansky et al. 1982; Livshits et al. 1991)." Isn't genetics great.

  1. Melinda Fulk's Avatar Melinda Fulk

    Which begs an equally obvious question - what happened to Joseph? If I remember correctly, he was older than Mary. So was he dead by the time of the crucifixion? Is that why John as charged with caring for her after Jesus' deah?

    1. Bishop William Dusenberry, DD's Avatar Bishop William Dusenberry, DD

      Which begs to answer, then ask another timely question: “if it weren’t for Roman Emperor Constantine, wanting to assimilate the Gauls, into the Roman Empire, and the Gauls had a woman who was high on the Gaulic religious pecking order, the Jewish mother of the St. Paul creator of the mythical Jesus, would never had had, a mother named Mary. Constantine invented Mother Mary to show the Gauls, that they too had a deity named Mary, which made it easier for the Gauls, to accept Christian mythology.

  1. Russel A. Kester's Avatar Russel A. Kester

    This is a curious thing. One would think that a person who gave birth to God's son would have had an esteemed place in the nascent church and had her life recorded. But apart from the book of Acts the early Christians community didn't seem to follow anyone else either except, perhaps, for St. Paul. Yes, very curious indeed.

    1. Danny D. Maynard's Avatar Danny D. Maynard

      Paul took the newly minted mythology on the road. That was the 2nd version of the new religion called Christianity. The Apostles argued over the first version, on whether the Gentiles could be members of it or not. Now, the version we currently see was newly minted by Roman Emperor Constantine circa 325 CE when he "saw a cross in the sky" (hallucinations) , and invented the Trinity. That version started out as the roman Catholic Church, but it has split multiple times since, creating multiple other denominations.

      1. Farajallah Michael Yazbek's Avatar Farajallah Michael Yazbek

        No, actually the church was fficially organized and authorized by Constantine as the Holy Catholic Church at the Second Nicean Council in 324 AD (CE to you modernists). During this conference the canons of the Bible were organized, with many books and writings left out because they weren't as important to the message of salvation as those that were included. Some of the texts were repetitive in nature, and redundant to the four Gospels we have in hand. There was the work of Thomas, which simply reiterated the four Gospels, the book of Mary, which is in Blacharnae, which does, indeed, detail the final years of Mary's life. It is this work that tells us that Mary reposed at a certain date, and was resurrected and arose into Heaven upon the arrival of Thomas, who was mystically transferred from India to where Mary reposed.

      2. Farajallah Michael Yazbek's Avatar Farajallah Michael Yazbek

        And Mary was entered into the synagogue when she was three years old when she wandered into the Holy Of Holies as a toddler. She was raised in the Temple until she was 14 years old and returned to her family, was betrothed to Joseph, and then became the Mother of the Son Of God. Joseph was, indeed, somewhat older than Mary, as was the custom of the time, and was, indeed, already dead at the time of the Crucifixion.

  1. Michael Burton's Avatar Michael Burton

    I like the idea that she went to Glastonbury, England where she went on the British Pension Plan

  1. Kathryn Diane Taft's Avatar Kathryn Diane Taft

    Who cares?!? Come on, you can't tell me anyone actually still believes that the Bible is accurate on ANYTHING, and I don't care if the Pope himself gave me a lesson, keeping people believing in that book of lies is crucial to leaders being able to continue manipulating society into conformity and control. Organized religion is biased and only self serving unless it supports ALL religions and teaches the truth about God, Jesus and his extended family. Who cares about Mary, we have MUCH more important needs regarding shaping society into what God REALLY INTENDED. Clergy knows, they will never tell the truth bcuz then we aren't slaves to their agenda anymore. The Bible is the best tool they could ever use on us. Brilliant but still a lie!!!

    1. ServantOfJudgement's Avatar ServantOfJudgement

      Kathryn, the Bible is ridiculously accurate. Indeed, the CDC and FDA fully agree with its dietary requirements. All modern governments, municipalities, corporations and medical facilities agree with it's policy on blood born pathogens. Einstein and modern cosmologists agree that the universe is expanding. Archeologists from all walks of life all agree the places that are mentioned in the bible that have been discovered are as the Bible says. They even dug up the satanic temple that was converted to a public toilet. Pretty funny stuff.

      In general the lies found in the bible are actually behavioral shortcomings we humans have that we don't want to hear about so we say it's a lie and make ourselves clean. Humans neen no training to lie, it comes natural at birth.

      Having a document to turn to that's consistent and time tested is mighty nice, especially these days when we say a man can be a woman but don't know what woman is and all the other likewise absurdities we're fed.

      1. Rev. Michael Gerraghty II's Avatar Rev. Michael Gerraghty II

        The bible is not in any way accurate.. It may have some actual landmarks but anything beyond it is nonsense.

        1. Farajallah Michael Yazbek's Avatar Farajallah Michael Yazbek

          You need to pick up and study the Orthodox Study Bible and compare it to the modern septaugent versions of the Bible. You will find that the ORIGINAL Bible is accurate. The Roman Catholics removed several books and hymns at the great schism in 1054, and the King James version (authorized by King James, not God), removed even more texts and books. In the Orthodox Bible you will find the history of Alexander the Great and others who were removed because any references to the Greeks was taken out by the Romans when they usurped the authority of the Patriarch of Constantinople when they martyred the church heirarchy and 54,000 faithful to take the church to Rome.

          1. Joy's Avatar Joy

            Don't forget the changes in 325 during the council of Nicaea. That is when the majority of the changes occurred so the church could control people. The Bible has never been anything other than a book written by men to control their people.

    2. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

      Ok hows about you proving its false?

      1. Rev. Michael Gerraghty II's Avatar Rev. Michael Gerraghty II

        I have 400 contradictions for starters after spending a LOT of time going through it.

        1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

          Sure you do. and until you post them they are nothing more then your OPINION

  1. Michelle Charlene Larkins's Avatar Michelle Charlene Larkins

    Doesn't matter if they were Jews or Arabs, they were from the Middle East. Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and that entire area, so everyone in that region would have darker skin. Most of the Bible and the religious scripts back then were written by men as told to them by God or by visual interpretation of what they saw. Men got all the credit for all the deeds back then .women were just property to men and got nothing. That's why you really heard nothing about the Vigin Mary after Jesus death until the verses in ACTS because at that point she was not important.

    1. Danny D. Maynard's Avatar Danny D. Maynard

      It was not until the 1970s that women were able to open a bank account in their own personal name, without the consent of either their father is single or the husband if married.

  1. Lawrence A. Benson's Avatar Lawrence A. Benson

    Blame, blame, blame everybody but Pontius Pilate, a Roman, who sentenced Jesus to death.

    1. Danny D. Maynard's Avatar Danny D. Maynard

      Jesus' Jewish enemies just did not have the guts or courage to pronounce his death.

  1. CB Cuff's Avatar CB Cuff

    Maybe she remarried, changed her last name, moved on, away from the drama, just like modern times.

    1. John's Avatar John

      I heard she and subsequent descendants relocated to and area called Boca.

  1. Allen Nace's Avatar Allen Nace

    Remember, Mary went away from Joseph while he was building a house and left town to live with a relative. Comes back in a few months pregnant! Tells Joseph she wasn’t with anyone and of course Joseph doesn’t believe her. He doesn’t expose her because he doesn’t want her to be executed or cast out but he doesn’t believe her. Later she convinces him. Please.

  1. Mark Furnari's Avatar Mark Furnari

    Such utter nonsense to cover the complete scope of the myth of Mary, a virgin birth, and the existence of heaven! This world is so complicated that we should be continually amazed by how much we don't know instead of applying myth creation and thinking to our lives. Carry On!

  1. Colleen McAllister's Avatar Colleen McAllister

    What Mary looked like, or what happened to her after the crucifixion ha no bearing on my salvation. Therefore it does not matter.

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      Awe…bless you, Lady Colleen. I see you’re still stuck with the salvation thing.

      🦁❤️

  1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

    I’ve been to Glastonbury. It’s a quaint little place and worth going up the Tor, but I doubt she ever travelled there. The mists of Avalon are worth seeing though early in the morning if you ever go there.

    🦁❤️

  1. Robert Louis Rada's Avatar Robert Louis Rada

    The Catholic Church venerates The Virgin Mary. She was so pure that God lifted her up to Heaven. Jesus left The Holy Spirit (or Ghost if you prefer) to guide & help us. Mary is at the right hand of God. Like the Catholic Saints pray 🙏🏾 to her and she will hear. We’re all sinners and the Cross is victory over sin. 💙

    1. Rev. Michael Gerraghty II's Avatar Rev. Michael Gerraghty II

      Sin is only a construct bible believers are slaves to while the rest of us live free.

      1. Russel A. Kester's Avatar Russel A. Kester

        Michael, that doesn't seem right. Our actions do have an affect on our psyche and can lead to serious psychoses. We also now know that certain behaviors can lead to adrenaline and other hormones activated by anger, stress, or guilt that can lead to heart issues as well as other problems. Sin, an archer's term that means to miss the mark, is used in sacred scripture to indicate that certain acts or attitudes mislead us so that we err and miss living a righteous and holy life which is healthy and good for us. Sin is also similar to seeing or experiencing something truly horrible that cannot be unseen or inexperienced. It causes a memory we wish would go away, but it's doesn't and can reappear even years later. It's like a stain that one just can't get out. A stain on our very souls.

  1. Nicholas J Page's Avatar Nicholas J Page

    We never got taught about Mary at school so I tend to think she may have ascended to heaven and stayed with God as she bore him his son.So she would have been at his side until her ending.

  1. David Arthur Lewis's Avatar David Arthur Lewis

    Mary is a symbolic mythological character, not a real person. After mythological Jesus died (reference the similarities with the gods Mithra and Sol Invictus), she returned to her role as the goddess Ishtar (Easter), a.k.a. Mother Nature, who is still worshipped even by American atheists.

  1. ServantOfJudgement's Avatar ServantOfJudgement

    Mary mother of Jesus died like everybody else does. Catholics did to her what god prevented the Israelites from doing to Moses. They worship her like a god.

    Mary was a sinner just like the next person is, nothing to worship there.

  1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

    Why do pictures of Mary with a baby never look like a 13 to 14 year old girl? Is it to prevent people from thinking that God impregnated a young girl?

    🦁❤️

    1. Susan Christine Giganti's Avatar Susan Christine Giganti

      Because the models for Mary were either the family members of the person who commissioned the portrait , or artist’s current muse.

  1. Theresa C. Marquess's Avatar Theresa C. Marquess

    Like any mother who loses a child, Mary grieved... for the remainder of her life.

  1. Allen Nace's Avatar Allen Nace

    Magical thinking I say. Magical. Can’t happen and didn’t happen. Mythical like a comic book. C’mon people get real. Prove to me that you’re no fool. Walk across my swimming pool.

  1. Paul Johnson's Avatar Paul Johnson

    Once again a lot of noise. It probably want cause anyone to change their thinking. If she was black, brown, tan, poka dot. Why all the conversation about something that the only thing accomplished is each other must feel venerated in their own world. Something happened to cause time to change and no more animal sacrifice and I'm not saying that men have not tried to manipulate everything that can be changed. It seems like we always want to be in change things to think we are in charge. Where Mary might be is between her and her creator as it should be with us. If we could only learn that we need to forfeit our selfishness and of course that starts with self. Then and only then will we be in a position to be directed by the creator. I think I will stick with God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit and Mary who brought fourth God the Son who is God Him self then as Gabriel so addresses Mary I'll just go along with his salutation and what are where ever God the Father has placed, moved her body that is between Him and Her and I believe He is still in control.

  1. Farajallah Michael Yazbek's Avatar Farajallah Michael Yazbek

    Mary was raised in the Temple until she was 14. She went into the Holy of Holies as a 3-year-old child on her own and her parents couldn't go in and get her out. Only the high priest in attendance could do that, and he wasn't present when she was presented to the Temple for her confirmation and bat mitzvah lessons at that time. Since she was pure as a child, she was raised by the Temple priests. There are prohibitions against piercings and tattoos in the true Hebrew faith, so no, she would NOT have had piercings or markings on her body of any sort. And the texts of ALL versions of the Bible denote specifically that she was fair of skin and found favorable to God. The same brightness that forced Moses to wear a veil was around her from the time of her being impregnated by the Holy Spirit until her death, and subsequently the heavenly light still surrounds her to this day.

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      Hang on! Hang on! So this pure child was raised by Temple Priests, and eventually, somehow, mysteriously got pregnant and they put the blame on a deity, and everyone bought it…..right? Got it!

      They must have been the “Gullible Generation” as opposed to the “Baby Boomer Generation” that we had in the 50’s and 60’s.

      🦁❤️

  1. John Gary Pendleton's Avatar John Gary Pendleton

    Whatever you believe about Mary, whether she was simply the mother of a Jewish religious revolutionary, or the Mother of Jesus who, via the concept of the trinity, is God and so the same being who caused her to be pregnant with him (it’s complicated), Mary, Jesus’ Mother, and her uncle Joseph and Mary Magdeline, and their servant Mary may have had a larger role to play in the development and spread of Christianity. There is a story told, I believe, by Dan Brown in his (admittedly fictional) work “The DeVinci Code” that the Three Marys and Uncle Joseph fleeing Jerusalem after the crucifixion went through Alexandria (where one of them had relatives) out onto the Mediterranean Sea in a boat, ran into a fierce storm and were blown ashore in what is now Southern France at a place now known as Saintes Maries de la Mar. From there the three “converted” members of a largish Jewish exile community and began to spread an early version of Christianity back towards Rome from the West. It is easy to dismiss this story as the creation of a Novelist, except that I have been to that French Town, and have talked to locals who recount that exact story as history and have been given a tour of the local Fortress Church that supposedly has relics of the servant Mary who is the patron Saint of the European Roma (disparagingly called Gypsies). Indeed thousands of Roma make a pilgrimage to Saintes Maries de la Mar to celebrate her. None of this counts as proof of anything, of course. But it is interesting.

  1. John Casillo's Avatar John Casillo

    why is the sky blue?

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