My perusal of this site has enlightened me to these three cases where a person is spoken of as being sinless from the womb.

According Catholic Church were all three born sinless?

1) Mary according to the Church cleansed of all stain of sin from conception.

2) John the Baptist cleansed during the visit from Mary while he was in the womb.

3) Recently I read here Origin of the story that James had knees as hard as a camel's, because of praying in a great answer that according to Eusibius quoting Hegesippus that James brother of Jesus was sinless from his mothers womb.

As that was a new one on me I am asking if the Catholic Church states that all three were in fact born sinless and what similarities and differences are there among these.

  • Who says they were all sinless from the womb??
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 13:51
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    @curiousdanni edited question to clarify
    – 007
    Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 14:31
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    James is a new one on me too. I didn't realize Eusebius said that about him. Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 14:56

3 Answers 3


I hadn't previously heard anything of this sort about James, but I'd like to explain the difference between the situations of Mary and John the Baptist.

In the case of Mary, we (Catholics) know, because the Church has infallibly declared it, that Mary was conceived without original sin. As a consequence, of course, she was born sinless.

In the case of John the Baptist, there is no official dogma that I'm aware of, but there is a rather widespread belief that he was cleansed of original sin as a result of Jesus's presence when both Jesus and John were still in their mothers' wombs and Mary visited Elizabeth. The basis for the belief is that John leaped with joy in the womb when Elizabeth heard Mary's salutation. The idea is that someone under the dominion of sin would not leap for joy at the arrival of Mary and Jesus. Although, as I said, the Church has no official dogma on this topic (as far as I know), she has given us a fairly strong hint. There are only three persons whose earthly birth is commemorated by feasts of the church (in contrast to feasts of martyrs, which often commemorate their "birth" into heaven at the time of martyrdom). Those three are Jesus, Mary, and John the Baptist. The first two of the three were certainly born without sin, so it is reasonable to extrapolate and suppose that John the Baptist's birth was similar.

EDIT: I should also have mentioned here Luke 1:15, where the angel Gabriel says of John the Baptist "He shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb."

  • The Church (coincidentally, today, December 8th) celebrates Mary's conception with a feast, not her birth.
    – Marc L.
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 20:48
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    @Marc The Church also celebrates Mary's birth. The feast day is September 8 (not surprisingly 9 months after conception). I should probably mention that I'm a traditional Catholic and I'm referring to the traditional calendar of feasts. I'm not sure whether this feast survived Vatican II. Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 20:50
  • you are correct! I was confusing the more general "feast" with "holy day of obligation". I might also note that the Visitation (Jesus' conception) is also a feast, celebrated (again unsurprisingly) on March 25th.
    – Marc L.
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 20:57
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    @MarcL. Interesting; in the traditional calendar, March 25 celebrates Jesus's conception under the name "feast of the Annunciation." There's also a separate feast of the Visitation on July 2. Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 21:07
  • Argh! Again, I need to self-edit better before clicking "add". Thanks.
    – Marc L.
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 21:10

Coincidentally, Catholics celebrate today the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the point of which is that Mary, alone among creation, was preserved at the time of her conception from Original Sin, and that she was preserved in her Earthly life from sin. Jesus, being God Incarnate, also was without sin even from conception.

It is important to also raise why Catholics believe this - the general idea is that Mary was preserved for sin so that there would be one worthy of conceiving him. So, this doctrine concerning Mary is, like all Catholic Marian doctrines, really saying something about how Catholics perceive Jesus.

As for the other two, I had never heard that either was born without sin. Based on the above reasoning for the Immaculate Conception, it certainly would be unnecessary for them to have been preserved from all sin.

John the Baptist jumped in St. Elizabeth's womb at the time of the visitation, but I'm ignorant of anyone interpreting that as a "cleansing." Even if one were to interpret as such, that still doesn't mean that he was conceived without sin.

James was chosen to be an Apostle and was therefore blessed with heroic virtue, but was a sinner like us and the other Apostles.


Explain similarities and differences in “sinless from the womb ” for James, John the Baptist and Mary


Catholic Church acknowledge Mary and St.John the Baptist are both sinless from the womb while St. James has no clear Church teaching to substantiate his sinlesssness from the womb. We know Jesus has two apostles St.James the Greater and St. James the Lesser. Both of these two apostles have no account in the bible describing how they are conceive or born. Both the two St.James are known to be a just man, St. James the Greater is associated in evangelization and one well-known account is the Our Lady of Pillar apparition in the year 40AD. While St. James the Lesser was known to have spent his life praying in the Temple of Jerusalem.

The First Marian Apparition in Church History: Our Lady of the Pillar

With St. John the Baptist there is a prophecy in Gospel of Luke;

" He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb." (Luke1:15)

But the actual accounts described the Holy Spirit filled St.Elizabeth first and the baby leaped in her womb. Catholics acknowledge the leaping as a sign of Divine Life was given meaning St.John the Baptist received the outpouring of "sanctifying grace". Luke 1:41-50 tells the whole account of Visitation.

Mary "sinless from the womb" was declared in the Church Dogma of Immaculate Conception.

Answer to featured question regarding St. John the Baptist and Jeremiah comparison on the word sanctification & consecration.

Since Jesus & Mary was acknowledge by the Church as "sinless from the womb" and even declaring the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, it's better to focus our attention on the new question on prophet Jeremiah and St. John the Baptist comparison and differences in sanctification and for Jeremiah even other translation rendered the word consecration.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

and before you were born I consecrated you;

I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Also, this question had a link of discussion on Jeremiah & St.John the Baptist believe to have been born without original sin here: What is the biblical basis for Jeremiah and John the Baptist being born without original sin?

Is there a difference between the word sanctification vs. consecration? Do they both implied the same thing according to scriptures cited in the Book of Jeremiah and the Gosepel of St.Luke?

Let's revisit and ponder the scripture passages;

The Call of Jeremiah

4 The word of the Lord came to me, saying,

5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew[a] you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

6 “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”

7 But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.

9 Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. 10 See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” (Jeremiah 1:4-10)

Here from this passages, we can see the following words;

Before I formed you, I set you apart, I appointed you plus the God Himself had a conversation to Jeremiah and made an action to put emphasis on Jeremiah that God Himself will empower him by doing and saying this "Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth."

Let's compare what the scene from St. John the Baptist in the Gospel of Luke;

Luke 1:41-50 New International Version (NIV) 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Let's take a look to ponder what happened;

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

St. Elizabeth was the one filled by the Holy Spirit first as scripture clearly testified.

As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy

Now, when St. Elizabeth heard the greeting She was filled with the Holy Spirit, the question is, Is the feeling of joy of St.Elizabeth having filled by the Holy Spirit felt by St. John of the Baptist? or St. John the Baptist leaped because he personally heard even as a baby the greetings of the Blessed Virgin Mary?

From the way the scriptures was written, the feeling of joy of St. Elizabeth the Mother was felt too by his child in the womb, when the Holy Spirit filled St. Elizabeth her whole person was filled including his child.So, the passages speaks of sanctification of both the Mother & the Child by the Holy Spirit.

Now, let's compare this to Jeremiah, the only reference to Jeremiah are the word of the God saying "before you were born I set you apart" this words correspond to the meaning of "consecration".

Consecration [N] [S] the devoting or setting apart of anything to the worship or service of God. The race of Abraham and the tribe of Levi were thus consecrated ( Exodus 13:2 Exodus 13:12 Exodus 13:15 ; Numbers 3:12 ). The Hebrews devoted their fields and cattle, and sometimes the spoils of war, to the Lord ( Leviticus 27:28 Leviticus 27:29 ). According to the Mosaic law the first-born both of man and beast were consecrated to God.

In the New Testament, Christians are regarded as consecrated to the Lord (1 Peter 2:9).

From Blessed Catherine Emmerich we can find the word Mary was consecrated first as the Church;

With the Angel’s salutation the Blessed Virgin was consecrated as the Church. With the words ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word’, the Word entered into her, saluted by the Church, by His maidservant. God was now in His Temple, Mary was now the Temple and the Ark of the New Covenant

Blessed Emmercih described the greetings of Elizabeth to Mary and the movement of the baby in her womb as the first act of worship on the presence of the New Tabernacle having the presence of God-Man Jesus in the New Ark of the Covenant.

Elizabeth’s greeting and the movement of John beneath his mother’s heart was the first act of worship of the community in the presence of this Holy Thing.

Now let's take a look how the Blessed Virgin Mary thought St.Elizabeth the Magnificat for her to consecrate St. John the Baptist after receiving "sanctification" by the Holy Spirit.


1.Mary let go Elizabeth’s arm, which she had clasped, crossed her hands over her breast and uttered the Magnificat with exaltation.

I saw that Elizabeth followed in prayer the whole of the Magnificat in a similar state of exaltation

I saw Mary and Elizabeth in their little room. They stood opposite each other, as if rapt in ecstasy, and said the Magnificat in prayer together.

I saw Elizabeth and the Blessed Virgin in the house. Every morning and evening they joined together in prayer and recited the Magnificat, which Mary had received from the Holy Ghost at Elizabeth’s greeting of her.

Tonight, as I watched the two holy women at their prayers, I had many visions and explanations of the Magnificat and of the coming of the Blessed Sacrament in the present condition of the Blessed Virgin.

I saw as usual the two holy women with child standing opposite one another in prayer and reciting the Magnificat.

Again, as the two holy women prayed, I saw a part of the mystery of the Magnificat,...The Magnificat is a hymn of thanks for the fulfillment of the blessing given in the sacrament of the Old Covenant.

Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary

As we can see from the scriptures the "sanctification" comes first and the "consecration" requires God action in Jeremiah by touching his lips. In the case of St. John the Baptist the "sanctification" happened when they heard Mary's greeting and since the Theotokos was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit Her words contained the Power of the Holy Spirit that leads to the outpouring of "sanctifying graces" not only to St.John but especially to St.Elizabeth first. The "consecration" takes place after and the visions of Blessed Emmerich described how it happened.The three months of Blessed Virgin Mary's visit to St. Elizabeth purpose was to accompanied her in prayers daily reciting the Maginificat for the Will of God be fulfilled in St. John the Baptist. The two Holy Women were consecrating St. John the Baptist to God's Will and purpose.

In closing, this is the Wisdom of the Scriptures while God in the Old Testament was the one directly consecrating the chosen prophets & patriarchs according to His pleasure and will written in Ephesians1:3-6. In the New Testament, Mary the Theotokos is the one aiding the People of God in consecrating the chosen ones and in our times it is called "The Apostle of the Last/End Times"(JESUS LIVING IN MARY: HANDBOOK OF THE SPIRITUALITY OF ST. LOUIS DE MONTFORT) "III. THE APOSTLES OF THE END TIMES). This is the birth of St. Montfort True Devotion to Our Lady the Total Consecration to Jesus thru Mary biblically.

  • Im open to downvoters but please simply explain what particular information is the reason of your downvote for fairness sake. Golden Rule applies here. Commented Mar 27, 2019 at 15:45
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    I wasn't the one who downvoted your answer, but I can see why: although you argue from scriptures and pointed out some tradition which says St. John the Baptist was born without sin, the Catholic church per se never declared him to be so: catholicphilly.com/2016/11/catholic-spirituality/… Commented Mar 27, 2019 at 22:48
  • @PaulS.Lee believing what the Church Tradition & Teachings says is different from Church declaring it., Church Wisdom is guided by the Holy Spirit.There are a lot of beliefs like the pending 5th Marian Dogma that most faithful upheld like Mary was called Advocate.whom even St'Luke miraculously hand painted the Theotokos in the year 50AD. pinterest.ph/pin/202662051953265670/?lp=trueSt.John the Baptist "sanctifed" in the womb is both upheld by East & West but not yet declared but it doesn't mean it has no basis as Tradition and Church teaches it. Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 0:10

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