Apocalypses of the Virgin

VIRGIN, APOCALYPSES OF THE. Two late apocalypses in which Mary was shown the tortures of the damned, both dependent on earlier works and quite distinct from the widespread legend of the Assumption of Mary (for which see ANT 194ff.; Jugie, Studi e Testi 114 [1944]).

(a) The first is extant in Gr. and other VSS, and was ed. by James in 1893 (Apocrypha anecdota, 115-126). The Virgin prays to be told about the torments of hell, and Michael was sent to guide her. In the W she sees the lost who did not worship the Trinity, and unbelievers for whom no one has yet interceded; in the S the souls of sinners are immersed at varying depths in a river of fire. In the W again she sees the fate of other sinners, an interesting catalog including that of those who had lain in bed late on Sunday and those who had not risen at the entry of a priest (appropriately condemned to sit on fiery seats!). Others placed “on the left hand of paradise” are the Jews who crucified Jesus, those who denied baptism, and those guilty of various impurities. The Virgin entreats all the saints to intercede with her, and the Son grants the days of Pentecost as a season of rest for the lost. The chief interest of this text lies in its revelation of what the author considered sinful, and the punishments he felt appropriate.

(b) The completely different Ethiopic apocalypse is almost wholly borrowed from the Apocalypse of Paul, but one section shows affinity with that of Peter. John is the narrator, and describes the mystery revealed to Mary, which she told to him. The contents represent chs. 13-44 of the Apocalypse of Paul, sometimes amplified with Biblical quotations.


Summary in ANT 563f.; lit. in NTAp. II. 753f.