Friday, July 22, 2005


She first appeared in the Gospels after having been freed by seven demons. She was one of the women who stood with Christ as He hung on the cross. She was the first to witness him after He rose from the dead. In early Christian writings, she is known as "apostle to the apostles."

Today the Church remembers Mary Magdalen, so called as she was said to have come from the town of Magdala, which is near Tiberias on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.

The tradition in western Christianity identified three different Marys in the Gospels as one and the same -- the one identified as "Mary the Magdalene," the "sinner" of Luke 7:36-50, and the sister of Martha and Lazarus (Luke 10:38-42 and John 11). The eastern tradition distinguishes the three. Modern conventional wisdom favors the latter.

As to the time after Christ's Ascension, the eastern tradition says she retired to Ephesus with Mary and John the Apostle, where she died. In France, it is said that she traveled with a company that included Lazarus of Bethany, to convert the whole of Provence. Her remains were buried thereabouts, and eventually moved to the town of V├ęzelay, where a Romanesque basilica stands that bears her name. Her supposed relics have since moved elsewhere. (See link above.)

Today, with the popularity of the recent hallucination entitled The DaVinci Code, Mary Magdalen has taken on a renewed popularity, on account of an alleged romance, and subsequent marriage, to Christ Himself.

Mary is depicted in portraits and statuary holding a jar of ababaster ointment. She is also the patroness of apothecaries; the towns of Atrani and Casamicciola in Italy; contemplative life; contemplatives; converts; druggists; glove makers; hairdressers; hairstylists; penitent sinners; penitent women; people ridiculed for their piety; perfumeries; perfumers; pharmacists; reformed prostitutes; sexual temptation; tanners (don't ask me why!), and... women.

Meanwhile, there is a website going online today...

...for all your Mary Magdalen needs.

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