This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

May 24 -- Feast of Saint Joanna

...or Saint Jessica, if you prefer.  I guess both names refer to the same woman.  If you know anyone named Joanna or Jessica, wish them a good feast. See this site for the connection between the names; the wikipedia name etymology pages call the link between the names into question. 

Three Marys, one of whom is Joanna, with tomb-myrrh
Joanna's at the center of one of those little inconsistencies in the Synoptic Gospels that some folks can find so vexing. 

Luke tells it like this in Chapter 24 -- When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.

Mark tells it like this in Chapter 16:1  -- And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.  Mark also says that the apostles did not believe Mary M. when she told them about it. 

Shrine of Joanna, with more myrrh
Matthew tells it like this in Chapter 28:1 -- After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.  Matthew has lots of divergent details, but he doesn't say the apostles doubted the women when they were told.  

Even if Matthew's right and there were only two women, they might have gathered other women before they reached the apostles.  Luke implies more than three, referring to "the others with them.  Mark has three, no more nor fewer, but again, that doesn't mean they didn't gather others on the way. It also doesn't mean that Salome, who is sometimes called Mary to make it three-of-a-kind, could not also be called Joanna.  Or Jessica.  

There's a story outside the Gospels about Saint Joanna that definitely bolsters her saintly status.  As the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, she had some pull in the palace.  She used that influence to get the head of John the Baptist so that she could ensure that it was decently buried.  



  1. I know several Jessicas and I have always thought Jessica was a beautiful name. But I never knew it was biblical too. Thanks for the education!

  2. I don't know when the name evolved into Jessica, but of course the Hebrew or Aramaic names would have been another variation.

    Having spent a little time reading chatroom debates about real name of Jesus (Yeshua? Yashua? Yahushua? Yeoshua?) taught me how little I know about names.