It's quite well-known that St. Luke gave the most attention to Mary's story than the other Gospels, but what in particular is he trying to convey by recording Mary's "pondering" certain 'revelations' in her heart twice?

If it had appeared just once, or perhaps even in completely separate chapters (or chapter-sized portions of his Gospel, since they were not original to the texts), it would seem a passing detail (albeit still strange enough to be significant, in my opinion), but Luke goes to the pains of recording it twice (and only about Mary, even though in the immediate contexts, the things to be "[pondered]" are not only known or revealed to her, making it seem mas though Luke were conveying something specific about Mary, or the special way in which it related to her:

Luke 2:8-20, 40-52 (DRB)

And there were in the same country shepherds watching, and keeping the night watches over their flock. And behold an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the brightness of God shone round about them; and they feared with a great fear. And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people: For, this day, is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying:

Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will.

And it came to pass, after the angels departed from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another: Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see this word that is come to pass, which the Lord hath shewed to us. And they came with haste; and they found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. And seeing, they understood of the word that had been spoken to them concerning this child. And all that heard, wondered; and at those things that were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God, for all the things they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.


And the child grew, and waxed strong, full of wisdom; and the grace of God was in him. And his parents went every year to Jerusalem, at the solemn day of the pasch. And when he was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast, and having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and his parents knew it not. And thinking that he was in the company, they came a day's journey, and sought him among their kinsfolks and acquaintance. And not finding him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that, after three days, they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his wisdom and his answers. And seeing him, they wondered. And his mother said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said to them: How is it that you sought me? did you not know, that I must be about my father's business? And they understood not the word that he spoke unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And his mother kept all these words in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men.

Clearly, St. Luke sees something significant in this otherwise insignificant detail, especially since he specifies Mary specifically each time as the one who does this contemplation. And being the more meticulous/detailed biographer/historian of the New Testament, it's unlikely he would record an insignificant detail such as this twice, each instance so close one to the other.


1) What is Luke telling us, by specifically noting Mary's contemplation, as opposed to everyone's in general (cf. Lk 2:33)?

  • If δε in Luke 2:19 is disjunctive, rather than connective, what could this be imply?

2) Could he be making a silent allusion to something else in Scripture (cf. Lk 1:34-35)?

Thanks for any responses in advance!

  • 1
    +1 I have noticed that repeated expression, by Luke, of Mary. It stands out. I look forward to the answers.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 16:46
  • See also Luke 3:15, 5:14, 8:56, 9:21, 9:36, 24:12.
    – Lucian
    Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 17:09
  • Thanks for the references @Lucian. These seem to be different, though, which is why I didn't factor it into the question. In the case of Mary she is contemplating "words" in her "heart" (as if to attempt to understand more deeply thngs she 'already knew' or something to the same effect). 'thinking in their hearts' is different, I think, than what is being focused upon here. Mary 'συμβαλλουσα' over the words. Consider the New Testament usages of the word. It's something along the lines of Mary's lack of "wonder" that I detect hereif anything. Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 18:03
  • @SolaGratia Zacharias and Elisabeth were both elderly, presumably passed on. Their son, John, had been executed by Herod. Simeon and Anna were both very aged and long gone. Joseph, we hear no more of, presumably also deceased. And Jesus was crucified, risen and ascended. Then, all that Mary had hid in her heart was still available to be recorded. Wonderful !
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 0:28

3 Answers 3


I don't see any particular explanation of the significance given in scripture but I can imagine one reason this might have been mentioned. Luke may have included Mary as one of his eye witness accounts and by mentioning that she memorized what the shepherds told her and what Jesus said to her might lend some credibility. This might have been important since he was the only one who reports on most of the events in those early chapters.

  • This seems like quite a cogent solution (and is quite plausible; e.g. cf. Jn 21:24). It's true that Mary and not Joseph would have alone been alive as a witness to these intimate affairs at the time the Gospels were being written (Joseph being thought to have died before then). I'm marking yours as the answer, since it does solve the mystery satisfactorily. However, if an answer discovers some other Scriptural or less speculative reason (that's not to say such exists!), I reserve the right to mark it as the answer. Thanks! Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 22:28
  • 1
    Forgive me, @Ruminator, I had forgotten to mark yours as the answer when I said I was :/ Here you go :) Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 11:25

What is the significance of Mary's contemplation in Luke?

Luke 2:19 (NASB)

19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.

Luke 2:19 (EXB)

19 But Mary ·treasured [kept; preserved] these things and ·continued to think about them [L pondered/considered them in her heart]

Mary must be tired from the rigors of childbirth, but she listened carefully to the message given to the shepherds by the angelic messengers of God. The message was of great importance,she pondered over it, she wanted to know and appreciate the importance of the message regarding her son's identity. Mary was truly a thinker,she stored the words of the angels in her heart, so she could ponder over and over again in the months and years to come.

Mary was a spiritual person, her praise that followed in Luke 1:46-55 contain many verses from the Hebrew scriptures,some are: 1 Samuel 2:1,10,11. Job 12:19. Psalm 111:9. Psalm 98:3, Isaiah 41:8-9 and many others. Her words of praise reveal the depth of her faith,and by contemplating and meditating, she stored the spiritual sayings in her heart, nourishing her faith.


Yes, it shows us that Mary thought about things, contemplated things, sensed things things as being of importance even if others forgot them or never noted their importance. Also, she did not hastily turn each important event or encounter into a doctrine or a sect, but instead sensed the significance of these happenings, thought about them, remembered them, and treasured them all her life. That speaks, as noted above, that she was a person of depth.

In answer to the part of the question about what makes Mary's contemplation different from the contemplation of others, I would say it wasn't that Mary's contemplation is different from everyone else's (it is likely that hers was especially deep) but that she WAS contemplative while a great many people are not. It is important to be sensitive to events and words and to ponder them and treasure them and not forget them. It is an indicator that this is something God values.

  • Sorry about the typo. I meant to be typing "not forget them" (not "not forgive them").
    – Sally M
    Commented May 3, 2022 at 15:32
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    – agarza
    Commented May 3, 2022 at 17:09

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