One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Each of the women, usually three in number, traditionally represented in art as carrying spices to the sepulchre of Christ.
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in Anna Jameson (1794–1860), writer and art historian. Probably from Byzantine Greek μυροϕόρος bearing unguents, although apparently (as indicated by the spelling) misapprehended as from ancient Greek μύρρα myrrh + -ϕόρος -phore. The Greek word does not occur in the Greek New Testament at Mark 16:1.
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