New Book Explains What Old Testament Women Teach about Mary

What do Miriam, Hannah, Sarah, Rahab, and several other women from the Old Testament have in common? They help point us to our Blessed Mother. And in a new book about these women, author Gayle Somers explains how their lives help readers develop a more intimate understanding of Mary’s heart.

Whispers of Mary: What Twelve Old Testament Women Teach Us about Mary is a beautiful book that explores the lives of these Old Testament women—women whom Mary would have read and learned about—and helps us strengthen our faith as we come to know the true meaning of motherhood and authentic femininity.

Gayle Somers, a former evangelical Protestant who came home to the Catholic faith in 1995, said she wrote Whispers of Mary to be a “listening” book so that readers could hear what the women of the Old Testament are saying to them.

Published by Ascension, this book follows the Bible in a Year Timeline (made popular by the Bible in a Year podcast), which provides historical context via a unique color-coding system for each of their stories. Each chapter delves into the life and faith of one of these twelve women and explains the parallels each has with Mary. At the end of each chapter are thought-provoking questions and even a space for personal reflection. Whispers of Mary gives us intimate knowledge of the women as we embark on a journey to walk with them and learn their hearts.

Why explore these Old Testament women? As Somers stated, “Catholics know to start in Genesis to understand Mary. If we continue reading the rest of the Old Testament, we see her foreshadowed in the lives of women throughout salvation history.”

Somers explained that she wanted the book “to become one slow ‘beholding’ of Mary, especially in the lives of her Old Testament mothers in faith.” She continued, “If we follow her example and obey her exhortation to do whatever Jesus tells us, we will find our faith growing stronger as we become her true daughters. This is my hope for myself and anyone who reads my book—that our lives will ‘whisper’ of Mary, as our Old Testament mothers in faith did.”

As we examine and ponder the lives of these extraordinary and often heroic women, we come to a greater understanding not only of God’s love but of God’s plan to send His beautiful mother and of her role in our salvation history.

The book explains this well when it says:

As we pondered the lives of so many Old Testament types of Mary, we easily imagined how their stories could have been part of her formation as mother of the Messiah. The Old Testament women did not, themselves, know what their stories would one day mean. They simply lived in humility and faith in obedience to their Lord. It was God’s hand that wove their stories into the great tapestry of his plan for creation. The tapestry, of course, is not finished. We, too, are being woven into it. What will our part of the story tell? We can now turn to Mary for help.

And as we turn to Mary for help, we can look to the people she likely turned to as she said yes to be the mother of God, as she raised Jesus into a man, and as she wept at the foot of the cross.

The lessons are many. For instance, when talking about Hannah, Somers asks the reader to think about suffering and humility. When discussing Miriam, Somers asks the reader to think about her courage. And when discussing Sarah, she asks the reader to think about faith and trust.

These are just a few of the numerous lessons we can learn from these women as we strive to become holier and grow in our relationship with Mary and her Son. And through these lessons, we see Mary’s love for us, her spiritual children. As Somers writes, “Out of compassion for God’s people, [Mary’s] heart spoke out on our behalf. She is still doing that for us.”

Indeed, Mary, our spiritual mother, loves us more than we can ever imagine. And when we immerse ourselves in her love and in her heart, we will naturally grow closer to her Son.

This article first appeared in the Catholic World Report at catholicworldreport.com/2024/05/21/what-can-the-women-of-the-old-testament-teach-us-about-mary.

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About the author

Susan Ciancio

Susan Ciancio is the editor of Celebrate Life Magazine and executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program.