I have not seen much on Saint Mary in regard to her life after Christís ascension - mainly because there isn't much - so I thought I would share a few thoughts of my own and get some feedback from others as to their thoughts on the matter. I realize dates are debatable but I think Iím pretty close on them.
Assuming Mary was 15 at Christís birth in December 5 B.C. (latest possible year) she is 49 at the Crucifixion (31 A.D.) She is under the care of John as charged by Christ - but most certainly many others would have also gladly assisted in regard to Mary as the apostles continued their work. Johnís mother Salome also would be of comfort to Mary as well as would Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James (son of Alphaeus) the less. Itís reasonable to assume that the apostles and the women while in Jerusalem frequented Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha, among others.
Mary probably spent most of her latter days in Galilee (Capernaum), since this is the area where John, and many of the others are originally from. Also, she would have desired to continue assisting the disciples in and around their travels as long as her health permitted it. It is reasonable to assume that Mary crossed paths in the area of Capernaum with many who were healed by Jesus such as the Centurion whose servant was healed and by Jairus whose young daughter was raised from her deathbed, etcÖLikewise, Mary would have also spent some joyous times with at least some of her grandchildren. I suspect that Mary was of a quiet demeanor but like some women when they say jump - you better ask how far.
To have the mother of the Christ within your midst would certainly have been a blessing and comfort to those around her. As Christianity spread the persecutions of Christians accelerated, then Maryís safety would be of importance to those around her while I seriously doubt that she had any fear for her own death. With the stoning of Stephen in about 35 A.D. and Saul of Tarsus hot on the trail of any of those preaching of Christ the apostles would most certainly be discrete in their mission in and around Jerusalem.
False accusations about the virgin birth by scoffers plagued Mary the rest of her life - even unto today. Perhaps the rumorís of infidelity gossip even created friction between Mary and her other sons and daughters as they matured. Being the oldest Christ would have become the head of household when Joseph dies until he begins his mission starting with his baptism. Assuming Mary had a minimum of four sons and two daughters with Joseph within 12 years of Christís birth, the youngest would have been in their early twenties at the time Christ is baptized and all siblings were most likely out on their own at this time. Sibling rivalry would be somewhat unusual since Christ was without sin, but he was not devoid of anger, tears, and laughter. The other children were perhaps envious, weary, or even jealous at times of Christís wholesomeness and obedience in his household duties. Mary must have possessed the patience of the Saints in regard to all these things.
St. Luke tells us that the family went up to Jerusalem every year for the feast of the Passover. The story of the 12 year-old Christ missing for 3 days after the Passover is the last mention of his childhood. The travel time between Galilee and Jerusalem was about 3 days. With Joseph, Mary, Christís siblings and others in the group returning to Nazareth from Jerusalem somehow they lost track of Jesus - Joseph and Mary were just as human as the rest of us. It is possible the family may have visited the very spot in nearby Bethlehem where Christ was born during their stays around Jerusalem during Passover week.
I suspect Christ would have been in his late teens or early twenties when Joseph dies - assuming natural causes. Joseph may have been as much as 40 years older than Mary, but there is nothing to support this. Christ would have learned and be well versed in the scriptures, fishing and carpentry from childhood and continued Josephís trade as the main breadwinner of the household. Later, at least one of his brothers would also pick up on the carpenter trade. Perhaps this is why the span of time from Christís childhood unto John the Baptist is silent.
With only about 3 days travel between Galilee and Jerusalem Mary may have frequently accompanied John, or some of the other apostles during their travels just as she, and some of the other women had done before.
After Christís resurrection
- Mary must have seen Christ during the 40 days before he ascended - one can only imagine how that went
- Mary (and the other women) are present when Matthias is elected
- All are presumed present on Day of Pentecost
Tradition suggests Mary died about 54 A.D., which places her at about 72 years old and possibly in the area of Capernaum in Galilee, however the earliest traditions suggest she died in Jerusalem. Iím confident it was a peaceful and comfortable passing and tradition suggests that all of the apostles were at her side - James the eldest son of Zebedee and Salome - was beheaded by Herod Agrippa before Herod dies in 44 A.D. Perhaps even the Apostle Paul would have paid his respects to Mary along with the others prior to her death. Thomas was late in arriving and when they opened the tomb for Thomas to pay his respects the only thing remaining were the burial wrappings. Iím confident that Mary both in body and soul ascended unto Heaven soon after her burial since she was found highly favored with the Lord and was blessed among women. Appearances by Saint Mary have been reported numerous times over the ages so I seriously doubt that Maryís remains are still upon this Earth.
Herod Agrippa dies in 44 A.D., and if tradition holds true then all the apostles were present at Maryís death at about age 62 including James son of Zebedee which places Maryís death prior to 44 A.D. Hyppolitus of Thebes makes the claim that Mary lived for eleven years after the death of her Son, dying in 41 A.D. placing her age at about 59 years old.