St. Mary Magdalen
St. Mary Magdalen, also known as Mary of Magdala, was the first witness of Christ’s Resurrection. According to Luke 8:2, Jesus drove seven demons from her, after which she joined the women who supported Jesus and the twelve apostles during their ministry. She was also present at the Crucifixion and burial. Later traditions equate Mary Magdalen with both the sinful woman of Luke 7:36-50, and with Mary of Bethany, who also anointed Jesus.
Her feast is celebrated on July 22, and tradition holds that she was buried at Saint-Maximin in France, a Benedictine church which was destroyed in the eighth century and rebuilt by Dominicans in 1295. Her relics are said to be contained in a splendid bronze casket in the crypt. Saint Mary Magdalen is the patron saint of the contemplative life, converts and penitent sinners, people ridiculed for their piety, as well as glove makers, hairstylists, perfumers, and pharmacists.
From a Homily by Saint Gregory the Great
When Mary Magdalen came to the tomb and did not find the Lord’s body, she thought it had been taken away and so informed the disciples. After they came and saw the tomb, they too believed what Mary had told them. The text then says: “The disciples went back home,” and it adds: “but Mary wept and remained standing outside the tomb.”
We should reflect on Mary’s attitude and the great love she felt for Christ, for though the disciples had left the tomb, she remained. She was still seeking the one she had not found, and while she sought she wept. Burning with the fire of love, she longed for him who she thought had been taken away. And so it happened that the woman who stayed behind to seek Christ was the only one to see him. For perseverance is essential to any good deed, as the voice of truth tell us: “Whoever perseveres to the end will be saved.”
Books on St. Mary Magdalen
Mary Magdalene: Myth and Metaphor
Susan Haskins. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1993.
Mary Magdalene: The Image of a Woman Through the Centuries
Ingrid Maisch. Translated by Linda M. Maloney. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1998.
Mary Magdalene and Many Others: Women Who Followed Jesus
Carla Ricci. Translated by Paul Burns. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1994.
Mary of Magdala: Apostle and Leader
Mary R. Thompson. New York: Paulist Press, 1995.