Bishop Josephus Meile (†1957) claims in Die jungfräulichen Seelen in der Welt (The Virgin Souls in the World) p. 28 that

At the time of the wedding at Cana, as the Fathers of the Church testify, Mary was married as the new Eve to Christ as the New Adam. The new wine of Cana symbolizes the love that unites the King and the Queen.
Bei der Hochzeit zu Kana, so bezeugen uns die Kirchenväter, ist Maria als neue Eva mit Christus als neuem Adam vermählt worden. Durch den neuen Wein von Kana wird die Liebe versinnbildet, welche den König und die Königin verbindet.

Which "Fathers of the Church" say the wedding at Cana was that of the New Eve marrying the New Adam?

2 Answers 2


The common Church Fathers' quotes about Mary being the New Eve seem to come from Justin Martyr's Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter C contrasting Jesus with Adam and Mary with Eve, and then Irenaeus's Against Heresies, Book III/Chapter XXII which drew more similarities and contrasts between Mary and Eve.

The claim that Cana signified something additional to this seems to be more modern, using the facts that it was certainly a wedding and that Jesus called Mary "Woman" (a word used for "wife" in some languages - including Greek - but not something you might typically call your mother). Most references seem to be related to the campaign within the Catholic Church to use the title Co-Redemptrix for Mary, something that the current Pope Francis and his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI appear to be discouraging.


Which Church Fathers say the New Adam married the New Eve at the wedding of Cana?

First of all, some preliminary remarks about this subject matter:

"The New Eve" is a devotional name for the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ, and is possibly the most ancient doctrinal title of Mary in the Early Church. Eastern and Western Fathers of the Church alike express the doctrinal message that goes back to Apostolic times and which constituted the universal teaching of the Early Church: the doctrine of Mary's necessary participation in the redemption of humanity as the New Eve.

Early Church Fathers

The Early Fathers looked to Paul's Letter of the Galatians 4: 4-5: "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption." and related this to the woman spoken of in the Protevangelium of Genesis 3:15: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; They will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel." Irenaeus of Lyons in his Against Heresies (5.21.1), followed by several other Fathers of the Church, interpreted the verse as referring to Christ.

Justin Martyr was among the first to draw a parallel between Eve and Mary. This derives from his comparison of Adam and Jesus. In his Dialogue with Trypho, written sometime between 155-167,1 he explains:

He became man by the Virgin, in order that the disobedience which proceeded from the serpent might receive its destruction in the same manner in which it derived its origin. For Eve, who was a virgin and undefiled, having conceived the word of the serpent, brought forth disobedience and death. But the Virgin Mary received faith and joy, when the angel Gabriel announced the good tidings to her that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon her, and the power of the Highest would overshadow her: wherefore also the Holy Thing begotten of her is the Son of God; and she replied, 'Be it unto me according to thy word." And by her has He been born, to whom we have proved so many scriptures refer, and by whom God destroys both the serpent and those angels and men who are like him; but works deliverance from death to those who repent of their wickedness and believe upon Him.

Irenaeus, bishop of Lugdunum, also takes this up, in Against Heresies, written about the year 182:

In accordance with this design, Mary the Virgin is found obedient, saying, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to your word.” Luke 1:38 But Eve was disobedient; for she did not obey when as yet she was a virgin. ... having become disobedient, was made the cause of death, both to herself and to the entire human race; so also did Mary, having a man betrothed [to her], and being nevertheless a virgin, by yielding obedience, become the cause of salvation, both to herself and the whole human race. And on this account does the law term a woman betrothed to a man, the wife of him who had betrothed her, although she was as yet a virgin; thus indicating the back-reference from Mary to Eve,...For the Lord, having been born “the First-begotten of the dead,” Revelation 1:5 and receiving into His bosom the ancient fathers, has regenerated them into the life of God, He having been made Himself the beginning of those that live, as Adam became the beginning of those who die. 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 Wherefore also Luke, commencing the genealogy with the Lord, carried it back to Adam, indicating that it was He who regenerated them into the Gospel of life, and not they Him. And thus also it was that the knot of Eve's disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the virgin Mary set free through faith. - New Eve (Wikipedia)

Mary is sometimes prefigured as the mystical mother who gave birth to Adam. At the same time, she is prefigured by Eve, who is “the mother of all living” (Gen 3:20) and who is possibly born of the same pre-human mother. In this case, Eve would be the sister of Adam, despite their later conjugal relationship. This status of brother and sister, and their conjugal relationship prefigure the relationship between Christ and Mary, who is the Bride of God since the Holy Spirit, who is God, conceived Jesus in Mary (Lk 1:35). However, Christ is also God, more exactly God-man. This double nature of Jesus means that he is not only the son of Mary but at the same time her Spouse,[14] which is prefigured by the conjugal relationship of Adam and Eve.

Mary thus became the Mother, similar to God the Father, of all humans born in the faith in Jesus, who is the First-born of this new generation (Lk 2:7; Col 1:15; Rev 1:5), the eldest of a multitude of brothers (Rom 8:29) born and adopted by the Holy Spirit (Gal 4:4-7), the new Adam exempt from all sin (Rom 5:12-19). Finally, Mary is also a child of this big family because she has herself faith in her son. In this sense, Jesus and Mary are also brother and sister, like Adam and Eve. It seems that this way the word of Jesus “Whoever does the will of God, that person is my brother, and my sister, and my mother” (Mk 3:35) is perfectly realized. The biological evolution: A celestial and terrestrial Adam

As far as comparing the Virgin Mary as a Bride of Christ, St. Ephram the Syrian is the first to do so:

It was Ephram the Syrian (306-373) who first explicitly identified Mary as the Bride of Christ. This great doctor of Syrian Christian- ity was one of the first Fathers of the Church to allow living sentiments of love and devo- tion towards the mother of God to emanate from his writings. He imitates the cadences of the Song of Songs in his own poetry, insisting on Mary’s sinlessness, her spiritual beauty and her holiness. He reflects on her relationship with her Son who is at the same time the Son of God and the promised One:

For I am [your] sister from the House of David, who is second father. Again, I am mother because of Your conception, and bride am I because of your chastity. Handmaiden and daughter of blood and water [am I] who you redeemed and baptized.

Ambrose (d.397) added a further dimen- sion; he identified Mary as type and image of the Church. ‘Well [does the Gospel say] married but a virgin, because she is a type of the Church, which is also married but remains immaculate’. It was Ambrose who identified Mary as the ‘Shulamite’ from the Song of Songs: ‘From the womb of Mary was brought into the world the heap of wheat surrounded by lilies (cf. Song of Songs 7:1) when Christ was born of her’. In giving birth to Christ Mary fulfilled Old Testament longing and ‘contracted a maternal relationship with all men on a spiritual level. She contributes to the building up of the Church into the body of Christ’.

The great Augustine of Hippo (d. 430 AD) confirmed this theology:

How is it that you do not belong to the Virgin’s birth, if you are members of Christ? Mary gave birth to our Head, the Church gave birth to you. Indeed the Church also is both virgin and mother, mother because of her womb and her charity, virgin because of her integrity and piety.

The double thread of Mariology—Mary as Mother and Mary as Ecclesia/spouse was set to music in the Akathist Hymn c. 5th-6th cent. It has been attributed to many, to Romanos the Melodist (sixth cent), to George of Pisia (sev- enth cent), Germanus of Constantinople (eighth cent). It is the most profound and an- cient of all Marian hymns, poetic, theological and contemplative, every alternative stanza finishes with ‘Hail Mary Bride’. It is sung to this day in the Eastern Church.

Despite the conjugal imagery it is clear from the beginning that it was all to do with virginity. This glorious nuptial language trans- lated from the Old Testament to the New, was to be lived in the mind, in the realm of imagi- nation, exultation and sublimated desire. As Marina Warner points out, the love songs of Solomon and the Shulamite were predominantly applied to the love of Christ and the consecrated life of virgin or nun. The counterintuitive ideology surrounding Mary’s place as mother, spouse and bride of the Song of Songs and type of the Church, limited this fragile understanding to the learned and cloistered. - The Art of Theology: Mary as Bride of Christ

St. Ephraim has been recognized as the first to see Mary as the New Eve. This

Cana, showing the old covenant being transformed into the new, is explicitly a wedding feast. This fact seems to stand for a symbol, not only of the new covenant Church, but especially of the transforming work itself, the Pasch, when the old covenant as a marriage will yield to the new covenant as a marriage.

In Jn 3:29, Jesus is a bridegroom. This implies a bride—the Church, as the synoptics and Paul make explicit. At Cana, the bridegroom typifies Christ as spouse, says Augustine: "Illarum nuptiarum sponsus personam Domini figurabat."2 Ephrem completes the picture: "The bride ./at Cana/ is thy holy Church." Cyril of Jerusalem sees Cana referring to the eucharist as a feast for the children of a marriage, which seems to be between Christ and Church.

Cyprian says: "Christus . . . de aqua vinum fecit, id est quod ad nuptias Christi et ecclesiae . . . plebs magis gentium conflueret et conveniret ostendit." Augustine, also, seems to see Christ's life-work as a marriage, symbolized by the Cana wedding: "Quid mirum si in illam domum ad nuptias venit, qui in hunc mundum ad nuptias venit?"

If Cana represents Jesus' redemptive work as a whole, especially the Pasch, the marriage context should not be overlooked. Latourelle says: "Ce vin nouveau est signe de la Nouvelle Alliance dans le sang du Christ, signe des noces du Christ et de son Eglise."

Together with the Jordan baptism and the Magi visit, the Cana wedding is an epiphany of Christ's marriage, as the liturgy proclaims: "This day the Church is joined to her heavenly spouse, for. . . the guests are gladdened o with wine made from water, alleluia." Symbolic Interpretation.

We now turn to the first half of Jn 2:4. Concern- ing the dialogue between Christ and Mary, Dillon stresses the importance of symbolic interpretation:

The double-entendre is a typical fourth- gospel device, exemplified in the words of double meaning that Jesus uses with His inter- locutors, placing His usage on a completely different level from that of their this-worldly understanding. This is a most important literary trait for the understanding of the fourth evangel- ist's approach to historical facts. Not in- frequently . . . it has resulted in a dialogue of rather disconcerting inconsistency.

Dillon cites other examples of peculiar dialogues con- cerning the "temple" (2:19f); "born again" (3:3f); "living water" (4:10f); "food of which you do not know" (4:32f); "eating his flesh" (6:52); "lifting up" (3:14; 8:28; 12:32f).

Barrosse states:

Jesus repeatedly moves on a superior level in the fourth Gospel and speaks on this same higher plane, intending His words to carry a meaning that simply could not possibly have been grasped by His audience. - The Christ: Church Marriage According to St. John

In the end, the Church Father, St. Ephraim the Syrian say that Jesus as the New Adam married the Virgin Mary as the New Eve. But as to Bishop Josephus Meile’s claim that ”at the time of the wedding at Cana, as the Fathers of the Church testify, Mary was married as the new Eve to Christ as the New Adam at the Wedding Feast of Cana” remains to be verified. Personally, I believe Bishop Meile somehow misread the the Latin in question and that the part of ”at the Wedding Feast of Cana” should be omitted. The rest is traditional upheld.

  • More investigating on my part is continuing.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Jun 22, 2021 at 0:06
  • Yeah, I thought it was Ephraim, not Iraeneus, pace Henry's answer.
    – Geremia
    Commented Jun 22, 2021 at 3:08

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