Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Mary, Mary, Once Contrary

Today the Church commemorates Saint Mary of Magdala, or Mary Magdalen. It is certain that she was the woman out of whom Christ cast out seven demons (Mark 16:9), was among those women who traveled with the disciples to minister to him, and was with him at the Cross. She is also recorded as being the first to witness the risen Savior. In the east, she is distinguished from the woman who sinned (Luke 7:36, 8:2), and Mary of Bethany, sister of Martha and Lazarus (John 11). In the west, the three were traditionally lumped together as one Mary. Then there's that gal who anointed Christ's feet, although John identifies her as Mary of Bethany (Matthew 26, Mark 14). But after seeing Jesus Christ Superstar, any Mary who isn't his Blessed Mother is up for grabs.

Mary Magdalen is also the hero of radical feminists, even though she was never presumed to have any apostolic powers vested in her. Even so, one tradition holds that in later years, she retired to Ephesus with Jesus' mother Mary, where she died. Another holds that Mary Madgalen, Lazarus, and others traveled across the Mediterranean, where they converted the inhabititants of what is now the French region of Provence (And guess what, grrrls? She wasn't even ordained. Go figure...), and that she died and was buried there. Thus a bascilica in the town of Vazeley, one known to be an outstanding example of Romanesque architecture, is named in her honor.

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