Penitent Mary Magdalene by Nicolas Régnier, Palace on the Water, Warsaw
Place: possibly Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume, Ephesus, Asia Minor 
|Honored in||Eastern Orthodoxy
Roman Catholic Church
other Protestant churches
|Attributes||red egg (symbol of the resurrection); embracing the feet of Christ after the Resurrection|
|Patronage||Apothecaries; Kawit, Cavite; Atrani, Italy; Casamicciola Terme, Ischia; contemplative life; converts; glove makers; hairdressers; penitent sinners; people ridiculed for their piety; perfumeries; pharmacists; reformed prostitutes; sexual temptation; tanners; women|
Mary Magdalene (original Greek Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνή), or Mary of Magdala and sometimes The Magdalene, is a religious figure in Christianity. She has been called the second-most important woman in the New Testament after Mary the mother of Jesus. Mary Magdalene traveled with Jesus as one of his followers. She was present at Jesus' two most important moments: the crucifixion and the resurrection. Within the four Gospels, the oldest historical record mentioning her name, she is named at least 12 times, more than most of the apostles. The Gospel references describe her as courageous, brave enough to stand by Jesus in his hours of suffering, death and beyond.
Despite her centuries-old disreputable depiction in religion, art, literature, and in recent prominent fictional books and movies, such as The Da Vinci Code, it is largely agreed today that "not a shred of solid biblical or extrabiblical evidence suggests she played the role of harlot, wife, mother, or secret lover".
St. Mary Magdalene is considered by the Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran [ELCA only] churches to be a saint, with a feast day of July 22. Other Protestant churches honor her as a heroine in the faith. The Eastern Orthodox churches also commemorate her on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers, the Orthodox equivalent of the Western Three Marys.
Four Prominent Marys
Historically, the Greek Orthodox church Fathers, as a whole, distinguished among what they believed to be four Marys:
- the mother of Christ
- the "sinner" of ;
- the sister of Martha and Lazarus, and ; and
- Mary Magdalene.
In the four Gospels, St. Mary Magdalene is nearly always distinguished from other women named Mary by adding "Magdalene" (η Μαγδαληνή) to her name. Traditionally, this has been interpreted to mean that she was from Magdala, a town thought to have been on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. says that she was actually "called Magdalene". In Hebrew מגדל Migdal means "tower", "fortress"; in Aramaic, "Magdala" means "tower" or "elevated, great, magnificent". Talmudic passages speak of a Miriam "hamegadela se’ar nasha", "Miriam, the plaiter of women’s hair" (Hagigah 4b; cf. Shabbat 104b), which could be a reference to Mary Magdalene serving as a hairdresser.
St. Mary Magdalene's given name Μαρία (Maria) is usually regarded as a Latin form of Μαριὰμ (Mariam), which is the Greek variant used in the Septuagint for Miriam, the Hebrew name for Moses' sister. The name had become very popular during Jesus' time due to its connections to the ruling Hasmonean and Herodian dynasties.
Misnamed a repentant prostitute
It is almost universally agreed today that characterizations of her as a repentant prostitute are completely unfounded. However, Mary Magdalene has long been confused with other women also named Mary and some anonymous women whose stories were mistakenly fused into one sensual young sinner. This conflation merging several women into one composite has incorrectly linked the Magdalene with the unnamed sinner (commonly thought to have been a prostitute) in . Though St. Mary Magdalene is named in each of the four gospels in the New Testament, not once does it say that she was a prostitute or a sinner. Nothing in the New Testament even hints of her as a prostitute or a morally loose woman. Contemporary scholarship is said to have restored the understanding of Mary of Magdala as an important early Christian leader.
Yet, for many centuries the Western (Catholic) church taught that St. Mary Magdalene was the person mentioned in the Gospels as being both Mary of Bethany and the "sinful woman" who anoints Jesus in Luke.
This identification was made official by the Western (Catholic) church in a homily given by Pope Gregory I around the year 591. He is described as one of the most influential figures ever to serve as pope. In a famous series of sermons on Mary Magdalene, given in Rome, he identified Magdalene not only with the anonymous sinner in Luke's gospel, but also with Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. The seven devils removed from her by Jesus "morphed into the seven capital sins, and Mary Magdalene began to be condemned not only for lust but for pride and covetousness as well". Pope Gregory's homily on Luke's gospel made it an official interpretation of the church that Mary Magdalene was the woman of the “alabaster jar”—a prostitute:
She whom Luke calls the sinful woman, whom John calls Mary, we believe to be the Mary from whom seven devils were ejected according to Mark. And what did these seven devils signify, if not all the vices? It is clear, brothers, that the woman previously used the unguent to perfume her flesh in forbidden acts. What she therefore displayed more scandalously, she was now offering to God in a more praiseworthy manner. She had coveted with earthly eyes, but now through penitence these are consumed with tears. She displayed her hair to set off her face, but now her hair dries her tears. She had spoken proud things with her mouth, but in kissing the Lord’s feet, she now planted her mouth on the Redeemer’s feet. For every delight, therefore, she had had in herself, she now immolated herself. She turned the mass of her crimes to virtues, in order to serve God entirely in penance.
— Pope Gregory the Great (homily XXXIII)
With that, St. Mary’s conflicted image was, in the words of Susan Haskins, author of Mary Magdalene: Myth and Metaphor, “finally settled...for nearly fourteen hundred years.”
In 1969, during the papacy of Paul VI, the Vatican, without commenting on Pope Gregory's reasoning, implicitly rejected it by separating Luke's sinful woman, Mary of Bethany, and Mary Magdala via the Roman Missal.
Nevertheless, the reputation still lingers. After being held for so long, the belief became dominant not only in the Western church, but also in some Protestant churches having once been part of the Roman Catholic tradition. The misidentification of St. Mary Magdalene as a repentant prostitute was followed by many writers and artists into the 1990s. Even today it is promulgated by some secular groups. It is reflected in Martin Scorsese's film adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis's novel The Last Temptation of Christ, in José Saramago's The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Jesus Christ Superstar, Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, Jean-Claude La Marre's Color of the Cross and Hal Hartley's The Book of Life.
It was because of this association of St. Mary Magdalene having been a prostitute that she became the patroness of "wayward women", and Magdalene asylums became established to help "save" women from prostitution.
Primary sources about St. Mary Magdalene can be divided into canonical texts that are collected into the Christian New Testament and apocryphal texts that were left out from the Bible, being judged as heretical during the development of the New Testament canon. These apocryphal sources are usually dated from the end of the 1st to the early 4th century, all possibly written well after St. Mary's death. (The canonical gospels are often dated from the second half of the 1st century.)
During Jesus' ministry
The four Gospels included in the New Testament have little to say about Mary Magdalene. With a single exception in the Gospel of Luke (and in Mark 16:9-11 not contained in earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses), there is no mention of her in the Gospels until the crucifixion.
After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out—and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.
According to demons". Some contemporary scholars contend this concept means healing from mental or physical illnesses. Some scholars regard the reference in Mark as a late addition and possibly based on the Gospel of Luke.and , Jesus cleansed her of "seven
During the crucifixion
- , ,
It is at the time of the crucifixion and resurrection that Mary Magdalene comes to the fore in the gospels. Uniquely among the followers of Jesus, she is specified by name (though not consistently by any one gospel) as a witness to three key events: Jesus' crucifixion, his burial, and the discovery of his tomb to be empty. , Matthew 27:56 and mention Mary Magdalene as a witness to crucifixion, along with various other women. Luke does not name any witnesses, but mentions "women who had followed him from Galilee" standing at a distance.
After the crucifixion
- , ,
In listing witnesses who saw where Jesus was buried by Joseph of Aramathea, and Matthew 27:61 both name only two people: Mary Magdalene and "the other Mary", who in Mark is "the mother of James". describes the witnesses as "the women who had come with Jesus from Galilee". mentions no other witness to Joseph's burial of Jesus except for Nicodemus.
At the resurrection
- , , ,
In Mark, Matthew, and John, Mary Magdalene is first witness to the resurrection. John 20:1 names Mary Magdalene in describing who discovered the tomb to be empty. says she was accompanied by Salome and Mary the mother of James, while Matthew 28:1 omits Salome. says the group who reported to the disciples the finding of the empty tomb consisted of "Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them". In the resurrection is announced to the women at the tomb by "two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning" who suddenly appeared next to them.
After the resurrection
and both say that Jesus' first post-resurrection appearance was to Mary Magdalene alone. In , Mary Magdalene is with the other women returning from the empty tomb when they all see the first appearance of Jesus.
The first actual appearance by Jesus that Luke mentions is later that day, when Cleopas and an unnamed disciple walked with a fellow traveler they later realized was Jesus.describes the same appearance as happening after the private appearance to Mary Magdalene. The gospels of Mark and Luke record that the rest of the disciples did not believe Mary's report of what she saw, and neither Mary Magdalene nor any of the other women are mentioned by name in Paul's catalog of appearances at . Instead, Paul writes that Jesus "appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve".
The Gospel of John
Among the women who are specifically named in the New Testament of the Bible, Mary Magdalene’s name is one of the most frequently found. In, the author names three women in sequence: “Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children.” In the Gospel of Mark, the author lists a group of women three times, and each time, Mary Magdalene’s name appears first. Finally, in the Gospel of Luke, as already remarked, the author enumerates the women who reported the tomb visit, writing that, “It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them,” which once again places Mary Magdalene at the head of the list.
According to Carla Ricci, “The place she [Mary Magdalene] occupied in the list cannot be considered fortuitous,” because over and over Mary Magdalene’s name is placed at the head of specifically named women, indicating her importance. The significance of this is further strengthened when one examines the lists of the named apostles. In Luke, the author writes that Jesus “took Peter, John and James.” Ricci writes that because Peter occupies the first position in the list, that place can be considered the position of highest importance. As a result, it can be argued that Mary Magdalene must have held a very central position among the followers of Jesus, whether as disciple or in some other capacity.
After her first report to the named apostles that Jesus was risen, Mary Magdalene disappears from the New Testament. She is not mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, and her fate remains undocumented.
The early notion of Mary Magdalene as prostitute and adulteress is perpetuated by much Western medieval Christian art. The famous painting at the beginning of this article, Penitent Mary Magdalene by Nicolas Régnier, is a classic example. Like so many such depictions, Mary Magdalene is shown as having long hair, a fiery red, which she wears down over her shoulders, while the other women of the New Testament in these same depictions ordinarily have dark hair beneath a scarf, following contemporary standards of propriety by hiding their hair beneath headdresses or kerchiefs. This disparity between depictions of women also can be seen in works such as the Crucifixion paintings by the Meister des Marienlebens.
There are works of art showing how various artists viewed her and Jesus' relationship. According to Robert Kiely, "No figure in the Christian Pantheon except Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and John the Baptist has inspired, provoked, or confounded the imagination of painters more than the Magdalene". Paintings can offer a deep insight as to what popular culture believed about an individual at a certain point in history. See Fra Angelico’s painting Noli me tangere.
New Testament Apocrypha and Gnostic texts
In apocryphal texts, she is portrayed as a visionary and leader of the early movement whom Jesus loved more than he loved the other disciples. Several Gnostic gospels, such as the Gospel of Mary, written in the early 2nd century, see Mary as the special disciple of Jesus who has a deeper understanding of his teachings and is asked to impart this to the other disciples.
In Gnostic writings Mary Magdalene is seen as one of the most important of Jesus' disciples whom he loved more than the others. The Gnostic Gospel of Philip names Mary Magdalene as Jesus' companion. Gnostic writings describe tensions and jealousy between Mary Magdalene and other disciples, especially Peter.
Legend of Mary Magdalene
There is evidence that between the time of Pope Gregory I (590-604 AD), until Jacobus de Voragine's Golden Legend and Jacques Lefèvre d'Étaples (Concerning Mary Magdalene) in 1519 AD, various versions of the Legend of Mary Magdalene circulated in the south of France and Germany. Odo of Cluny wrote a version in the 900s AD that described Mary's family as nobility. Some of the legends speak of a Mary that went into monastic retreat in a cave for thirty years, communicating with angels. Some of the manuscripts speak of Mary's father being called Syrus and her mother Eucharia, owners of property in Bethany, in others she is depicted as a "sinner" for not marrying John.
Gospel of Mary
In her introduction in The Complete Gospels, Karen King names the manuscripts available for the Gospel of Mary. She writes that only three fragmentary manuscripts are known to have survived into the modern period, two 3rd-century fragments (P. Rylands 463 and P. Oxyrhynchus 3525) published in 1938 and 1983, and a longer 5th-century Coptic translation (Berolinensis Gnosticus 8052,1) published in 1955.
First discovered in 1896, the Gospel of Mary exalts Mary Magdalene over the male disciples of Jesus. The Gospel of Mary provides important information about the role of women in the early church, although it is missing six pages from the beginning, and four from the middle. It is usually dated to about the same period as that of the Gospel of Philip.
The identity of "Mary" appearing as the main character in this Gospel is sometimes disputed, but she is generally regarded to be Mary Magdalene. The Gospel of Mary presents her as one of the disciples, says she has seen a private vision from the resurrected Jesus and describes it to other disciples:
Peter said to Mary, "Sister we know that the Savior loved you more than the rest of woman. Tell us the words of the Savior which you remember which you know, but we do not, nor have we heard them". Mary answered and said, "What is hidden from you I will proclaim to you". And she began to speak to them these words: "I", she said, "I saw the Lord in a vision and I said to Him, Lord I saw you today in a vision".
Almost all of Mary's vision is within the lost pages.
When Mary had said these things, she fell silent, since it was up to this point that the Savior had spoken to her.
Mary is then confronted by Andrew and Peter, who do not take for granted what she says, because she is a woman:
"Did he then speak secretly with a woman, in preference to us, and not openly? Are we to turn back and all listen to her? Did he prefer her to us?" Then Mary grieved and said to Peter, "My brother Peter, what do you think? Do you think that I thought this up myself in my heart or that I am lying concerning the Savior?"
Mary is defended by Levi:
"But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you to reject her? Surely the Savior knew her very well. For this reason he loved her more than us".
The repeated reference in the Gnostic texts of Mary as being loved by Jesus more than the others has been seen as supporting the theory that the Beloved Disciple in the canonical Gospel of John was originally Mary Magdalene, before being later redacted in the Gospel.
Gospel of Philip
Gospel of Philip, dating from the 2nd or 3rd century, survives in part among the texts found in Nag Hammadi in 1945. In a manner very similar to , the Gospel of Philip presents Mary Magdalene among Jesus' female entourage, adding that she was his koinônos, a Greek word variously translated in contemporary versions as partner, associate, comrade, companion.
There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother, and her sister, and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion. His sister, his mother and his companion were each a Mary.
Others' irritation from the love and affection presented by Jesus to Mary Magdalene is claimed in the apocryphal Gospel of Philip. The text is badly fragmented, and speculated but unreliable additions are shown in brackets:
And the companion of the saviour was Mary Magdalene. Christ loved Mary more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her often. The rest of the disciples were offended by it and expressed disapproval. They said to him, "Why do you love her more than all of us?" The Saviour answered and said to them, "Why do I not love you like her?"
Gospel of Thomas
Gospel of Thomas, usually dated to the late 1st or early 2nd century, was also among the finds in the Nag Hammadi library in 1945. It has two short references to a "Mary", generally regarded as Mary Magdalene. The latter of the two describes the sentiment towards female members of the early Gnostics:
Simon Peter said to them: Let Mary go forth from among us, for women are not worthy of the life. Jesus said: Behold, I shall lead her, that I may make her male, in order that she also may become a living spirit like you males. For every woman who makes herself male shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.
The manuscript gives 114 "secret teachings" of Jesus. Mary is mentioned briefly in saying 21. Here, Mary asks Jesus, "Whom are your disciples like?" Jesus responds, "They are like children who have settled in a field which is not theirs. When the owners of the field come, they will say, 'Let us have back our field.' They (will) undress in their presence in order to let them have back their field and to give it back to them". Following this, Jesus continues his explanation with a parable about the owner of a house and a thief, ending with the common rhetoric, "Whoever has ears to hear let him hear".
Pistis Sophia, possibly dating as early as the 2nd century, is the best surviving of the Gnostic writings. Pistis Sophia presents a long dialog with Jesus in the form of his answers to questions from his disciples. Of the 64 questions, 39 are presented by a woman who is referred to as Mary or Mary Magdalene. Jesus says of Mary:
"Mary, thou blessed one, whom I will perfect in all mysteries of those of the height, discourse in openness, thou, whose heart is raised to the kingdom of heaven more than all thy brethren".
In historical fiction
Edgar Saltus's historical fiction novel Mary Magdalene: A Chronicle (1891) depicts her as a heroine living in a castle at Magdala, who moves to Rome becoming the "toast of the tetrarchy", telling John The Baptist she will "drink pearls... sup on peacock's tongues".
Ki Longfellow's novel The Secret Magdalene (2005) draws on the Gnostic gospels and other sources to portray Mary as a brilliant and dynamic woman who studies at the fabled library at Alexandria, and shares her knowledge with Jesus.
Eastern Orthodox tradition
Mary Magdalene is honored as one of the first witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus, and received a special commission from him to tell the Apostles of his resurrection.
Apostle to the Apostles
Mary Magdalene was recognized by early church fathers as "the apostle to the apostles" since, according to gospel narratives, she was the one who "stood in the presence of the risen Jesus and went to tell the other disciples the news of the resurrection”.
Bart D. Ehrman referred to a work by an early anonymous Christian writer (perhaps Hippolytus, a Christian leader in Rome around 200 AD) who in a commentary on the Old Testament book Song of Songs, wrote that Jesus first appeared to the women at the tomb. Jesus instructed them to go and tell his disciples that he was risen from the dead. Then he appeared to his disciples and "upbraided them for not believing the women's report", referring to the women as apostles. Ehrman quotes the writer: "Christ showed himself to the (male) apostles and said to them, 'It is I who appeared to these women and I who wanted to send them to you as apostles.'" Ehrman concludes from this that Mary and the others could therefore be thought of as "apostles sent to the apostles", a title that Mary Magdalene herself came to bear in the Middle Ages (Latin: apostola apostolorum). Erhman further cites and Matthew 28:11 as evidence for his proposition.
According to Harvard theologian Karen King, Mary Magdalene was a prominent disciple and leader of one wing of the early Christian movement that promoted women's leadership. King cites references in the Gospel of John that the risen Jesus gives Mary special teaching and commissions her as an "Apostle to the Apostles". Mary is the first to announce the resurrection and to fulfill the role of an Apostle─someone sent by Jesus with a special message or commission, to spread the gospel ("good news") and to lead the early church. The first message she was given was to announce to Peter and the others that "He is risen!"( ) Although the term is not specifically used of her in the New Testament, Eastern Christianity refers to her as "Equal to the Apostles"), and later traditions name her as "the apostle to the apostles". King writes that the strength of this literary tradition makes it possible to suggest that historically Mary was a prophetic visionary and leader within one sector of the early Christian movement after the death of Jesus.
Asbury Theological Seminary Bible scholar Ben Witherington III confirms the New Testament account of Mary Magdalene as historical: "Mary was an important early disciple and witness for Jesus". He continues, "There is absolutely no early historical evidence that Mary's relationship with Jesus was anything other than that of a disciple to her Master teacher".
In his apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem ("On the dignity and vocation of women", part 67-69) dated 15 August 1988, Pope John Paul II dealt with the Easter events in relation to the women being present at the tomb after the Resurrection, in a section entitled 'First Witness of the Resurrection':
The women are the first at the tomb. They are the first to find it empty. They are the first to hear 'He is not here. He has risen, as he said.'—John Paul II
On 23 July 2006 Pope Benedict XVI spoke about Mary Magdalene in his address before the Angelus, referring to her as "a disciple of the Lord who plays a lead role in the Gospels". "The story of Mary of Magdala reminds us all of a fundamental truth", Benedict said. "A disciple of Christ is one who, in the experience of human weakness, has had the humility to ask for his help, has been healed by him and has set out following closely after him, becoming a witness of the power of his merciful love that is stronger than sin and death".
Darrell Bock takes the view that Mary Magdalene was not singled out, but was part of a group of women who shared the honour, that for Hippolytus "she was one of a few apostles", stating the term did not originate with Hippolytus.
Roman Catholic tradition
How a cult of St. Mary Magdalene first arose in Provence has been summed up by Victor Saxer in the collection of essays in La Magdaleine, VIIIe – XIIIe siècle and by Katherine Ludwig Jansen, drawing on popular devotions, sermon literature and iconology. In Provence, Mary is said to have spent her last days alone in the wilderness, fasting and engaging in acts of penitential self-discipline, behavior that was rewarded with experiences of ecstatic union with the divine. Depictions of her last days became enormously popular in preaching and art.
St. Mary Magdalene's relics were first venerated at the abbey of Vézelay in Burgundy. Jacobus de Voragine gives the common account of the transfer of the relics of Mary Magdalene from her sepulchre in the oratory of Saint Maximin at Aix-en-Provence to the newly founded abbey of Vézelay; the transportation of the relics is entered as undertaken in 771 by the founder of the abbey, identified as Gerard, duke of Burgundy. The earliest mention of this episode is the notice of the chronicler Sigebert of Gembloux (died 1112), who asserts that the relics were removed to Vézelay through fear of the Saracens. There is no record of their further removal to the other St-Maximin; a casket of relics associated with Magdalene remains at Vézelay.
Afterwards, since September 9, 1279, the purported body of Mary Magdalene was also venerated at Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume, Provence. This cult attracted such throngs of pilgrims that the earlier shrine was rebuilt as the great Basilica from the mid-13th century, one of the finest Gothic churches in the south of France.
The competition between the Cluniac Benedictines of Vézelay and the Dominicans of Saint-Maxime occasioned a rash of miraculous literature supporting the one or the other site. Jacobus de Voragine, compiling his Legenda Aurea (Golden Legend) before the competition arose, characterized Mary Magdalene as the emblem of penitence, washing the feet of Jesus with her copious tears (although it is now believed that Mary of Bethany was the woman known for washing or anointing the feet of Jesus), protectress of pilgrims to Jerusalem, daily lifting by angels at the meal hour in her fasting retreat and many other miraculous happenings in the genre of Romance, ending with her death in the oratory of Saint Maximin, all disingenuously claimed to have been drawn from the histories of Hegesippus and of Josephus.
The French tradition of Saint Lazare of Bethany is that Mary, her brother Lazarus, and Maximinus, one of the Seventy Disciples and some companions, expelled by persecutions from the Holy Land, traversed the Mediterranean in a frail boat with neither rudder nor mast and landed at the place called Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer near Arles. On the way however, they were shipwrecked on a tiny island called Malta, in the middle of the Mediterrenean. In fact a very strong cult exists on this island, regarding this Saint. It has gone underground now, due to the exaggeration of the Marian cult. Dingli, Rabat, Madliena (Maltese for Magdalene), and Valletta all have Chapels, a Church, a Fortresses, and a Tower dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene. The Ravelin dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene, guarding the entrance to the Capital City: Valletta, was demolished! The Chapel in Floriana was replaced by one dedicated to no other than the mother of Jesus. The remaining structures do not open regularly, or are not well cared for, but they are all in the most important locations of Malta, especially strategically. Madliena in Gozo also had a Chapel dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene, but this was demolished for no reason whatsoever. The Chapel beneath the Church of St. Paul in Rabat is never opened with the excuse of drainage sepage. All artistic works were taken out except those concerning St. Mary Magdalene, which were left to rot. Passages are sealed and nobody knows where they lead to, or what they might contain. The Church in Valletta was up till very recently used to build carnival floats. It is also interesting that excavation works in frount of the Cathedral dedicated to St. John The Baptist, built by the Knights of St. John, who are still based on this island, and who are a branch of the Knights Templar, was suddenly stopped in about 2010. Mary Magdalene came to Marseille and converted the whole of Provence. Magdalene is said to have retired to a cave on a hill by Marseille, La Sainte-Baume ("holy cave" baumo in Provençal), where she gave herself up to a life of penance for thirty years. When the time of her death arrived she was carried by angels to Aix and into the oratory of Saint Maximinus, where she received the viaticum; her body was then laid in an oratory constructed by St. Maximinus at Villa Lata, afterwards called St. Maximin.
In 1279, when Charles II, King of Naples, erected a Dominican convent at La Sainte-Baume, the shrine was found intact, with an explanatory inscription stating why the relics had been hidden.
In 1518, on the brink of the Protestant Reformation, the leading French Renaissance humanist Jacques Lefèvre d'Étaples wrote arguing against the Western conflation of Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany and the unnamed sinner in Luke. There was a flurry of books and phamplets, most opposing Lefèvre d'Étaples, but others supporting him. In 1521 his views were formally condemned by the theology faculty of the Sorbonne, and debate died down, overtaken by the larger issues raised by Martin Luther.
During the Counter Reformation and Baroque periods (late 16th and 17th centuries), the cult of Mary Magdalene saw a great, new popularity as the Catholic Church publicized her as an attractive, persuasive model of repentance and reform, in keeping with the goals of the reform Council of Trent (1545–63). Numerous works of art and theater featuring the tearful penitent Magdalene appeared in the 17th century. As part of this new attention to the cult of the Magdalene, in 1600, her relics were placed in a sarcophagus commissioned by Pope Clement VIII, the head being placed in a separate reliquary. The relics and free-standing images were scattered and destroyed at the Revolution. In 1814, the church of La Sainte-Baume, also wrecked during the Revolution, was restored. In 1822, the grotto was consecrated afresh. The head of the saint now lies there and has been the centre of many pilgrimages.
The traditional Roman Catholic feast day dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene celebrated her position as a penitent. The Magdalene became a symbol of repentance for the vanities of the world to various sects. In 1969, the Catholic Church allegedly admitted what critics had been saying for centuries: Magdalene's standard image as a reformed prostitute is not supported by the text of the Bible. They reportedly have revised the Roman Missal and the Roman Calendar, and now neither of those documents mention Mary Magdalene as a repentant sinner of ill repute. St. Mary Magdalene was the patron of Magdalen College, Oxford, and Magdalene College, Cambridge (both colleges pronounce her name as "maudlin"). In contrast, her name was also used for the Magdalen Asylum, institutions for "fallen women".
Protestants honor her as a disciple and friend of Jesus. Anglican Christians revere her as a saint and may call upon her for intercession. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America honors Mary Magdalene on July 22 as a Lesser Festival.
Easter Egg tradition
For centuries, it has been the custom of many Christians to share dyed and painted eggs, particularly on Easter Sunday. The eggs represent new life, and Christ bursting forth from the tomb. Among Eastern Orthodox Christians this sharing is accompanied by the proclamation "Christ is risen!"
One tradition concerning Mary Magdalene says that, following the death and resurrection of Jesus, she used her position to gain an invitation to a banquet given by the Roman Emperor Tiberius. When she met him, she held a plain egg in her hand and exclaimed, "Christ is risen!" The Emperor laughed, and said that Christ rising from the dead was as likely as the egg in her hand turning red while she held it. Before he finished speaking, the egg in her hand turned a bright red, and she continued proclaiming the Gospel to the entire imperial house.
Another version of this story can be found in popular belief, mostly in Greece. It is believed that after the Crucifixion, Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary put a basket full of eggs at the foot of the cross. There, the eggs were painted red by the blood of the Christ. Then, Mary Magdalene brought them to Tiberius Caesar.
There are many references to Mary Magdalene in the sacred writings of the Bahá'í Faith, where she enjoys an exalted status as a heroine of faith and the "archetypal woman of all cycles". `Abdu'l-Bahá, the son of the founder of the religion, said that she was "the channel of confirmation" to Jesus' disciples, a "heroine" who "re-established the faith of the apostles" and was "a light of nearness in his kingdom". `Abdu'l-Bahá also wrote that "her reality is ever shining from the horizon of Christ", "her face is shining and beaming forth on the horizon of the universe forevermore" and that "her candle is, in the assemblage of the world, lighted till eternity". `Abdu'l-Bahá considered her to be the supreme example of how women are completely equal with men in the sight of God and can at times even exceed men in holiness and greatness. Indeed he claimed that she surpassed all the men of her time, and that "crowns studded with the brilliant jewels of guidance" were upon her head.
The Bahá'í writings also expand upon the scarce references to her life in the canonical Gospels, with a wide array of extra-canonical stories about her and sayings which are not recorded in any other extant historical sources. `Abdu'l-Bahá claimed that Mary traveled to Rome and spoke before the Emperor Tiberius, which is presumably why Pilate was later recalled to Rome for his cruel treatment of the Jews (a tradition also attested to in the Eastern Orthodox Church). According to the memoirs of Juliet Thompson, `Abdu'l-Bahá also compared Mary to Juliet, one of his most devoted followers, claiming that she even physically resembled her and that Mary Magdalene was Juliet Thompson's "correspondence in heaven".
Bahá'ís have noted parallels between Mary Magdalene and the Babí heroine-poetess Tahirih. The two are similar in many respects, with Mary Magdalene often being viewed as a Christian antecedent of the latter, while Tahirih in her own right could be described as the spiritual return of the Magdalene; especially given their common, shared attributes of "knowledge, steadfastness, courage, virtue and will power", in addition to their importance within the religious movements of Christianity and the Bahá'í Faith as female leaders.
The name Mary occurs numerous times in the New Testament. There are several people named Mary in the Gospels. There also are several unnamed women who seem to share characteristics with Mary Magdalene. At different times in history, Mary Magdalene has been confused or misidentified with almost every woman in the four Gospels, except the mother of Jesus.
"Beloved Disciple" in the Gospel of John
A group of scholars, the most familiar of whom is Elaine Pagels, have suggested that Mary Magdalene was a leader of the early Church. These scholars have even suggested that Mary might even be the unidentified "Beloved Disciple" to whom the Gospel of John is ascribed.
Raymond E. Brown suggests that to make this claim and maintain consistency with scriptures, Mary's separate existence in the two common scenes with the Beloved Disciple
Confusion with Mary of Bethany
In Roman Catholic tradition, Mary of Bethany was identified as Mary Magdalene until late in the 20th century. In Eastern Orthodox and Protestant traditions, they always were considered separate persons.
"Mary of Bethany" is just referred to as "Mary" both in Gospel of John, as if her identity was self-evident. Jesus seems to know her family welland the
Betrothed to John the Evangelist
The monk and historian Domenico Cavalca (c. 1270-1342), citing Jerome, suggested that Mary Magdalene was betrothed to St John the Evangelist: "I like to think that the Magdalene was the spouse of John, not affirming it... I am glad and blythe that St Jerome should say so". Dominican friar Jacobus de Voragine (c. 1230–1298) in his Golden Legend also suggested that John and Mary were betrothed and that John had left his bride at the altar to follow Jesus, dismissing it as a "false and frivolous tale".
In 1449 King René d'Anjou gave to Angers Cathedral the amphora from Cana in which Jesus changed water to wine, acquiring it from the nuns of Marseilles, who told him that Mary Magdalene had brought it with her from Judea, relating to the legend where she was the jilted bride at the wedding following John the Evangelist received his calling from Jesus.
A virgin after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ
Ambrose (De virginitate 3,14; 4,15) and John Chrysostom (Matthew, Homily 88) have suggested that Mary Magdalene was a virgin after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Buried at Iona
Relationship with Jesus
The Gospel of Philip depicts Mary as Jesus' Koinōnos (κοινωνός), a Greek term indicating a "close friend" or "companion". Mary Magdalene is mentioned as one of three Marys "who always walked with the Lord" and as his companion (Philip 59.6-11). The work also says that the Lord loved her more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her often (63.34-36). Author John Dickson argues that it was common in early Christianity to kiss a fellow believer by way of greeting,
The 13th-century Cistercian monk and chronicler Peter of Vaux de Cernay claimed it was part of Catharist belief that the earthly Jesus Christ had a relationship with Mary Magdalene, described as his concubine. Quote: "Further, in their secret meetings they said that the Christ who was born in the earthly and visible Bethlehem and crucified at Jerusalem was 'evil', and that Mary Magdalene was his concubine – and that she was the woman taken in adultery who is referred to in the Scriptures; the 'good' Christ, they said, neither ate nor drank nor assumed the true flesh and was never in this world, except spiritually in the body of Paul. I have used the term 'the earthly and visible Bethlehem' because the heretics believed there is a different and invisible earth in which – according to some of them – the 'good' Christ was born and crucified".
Also they [the Cathars] teach in their secret meetings that Mary Magdalene was the wife of Christ. She was the Samaritan woman to whom He said, "Call thy husband". She was the woman taken into adultery, whom Christ set free lest the Jews stone her, and she was with Him in three places, in the temple, at the well, and in the garden. After the Resurrection, He appeared first to her.
- Magdalen Society of Philadelphia
- Magdalene Asylum
- New Testament people named Mary
- Saint Sarah
- St. Mary Magdalene's Church (disambiguation)
- "Saint Mary Magdalen". New Catholic Dictionary. 1910. Retrieved 2007-02-28.
- Μαρία η Μαγδαληνή in Matt 27:56; 27:61; 28:1; ; ; ; replaces "η" with "τη" because of the case change). says "Μαρία ... η Μαγδαληνή" and says "η Μαγδαληνή Μαρία". , 20:1 and 20:18 all say "Μαρία η Μαγδαληνή".
- Morrow, Carol Ann. "St. Mary Magdalene: Redeeming Her Gospel Reputation". The American Catholic. May 2006 
- "Mary Magdalene, the clichés". BBC, Religions, 2011-07-20.
- "Lyons, Eric. "The Real Mary Magdalene". Apologetics Press". Apologeticspress.org. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
- "Saint Mary Magdalene". In Encyclopædia Britannica. 2011.
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- Thompson, Mary R. Mary of Magdala, Apostle and Leader. New York: Paulist Press, 1995. ISBN 0-8091-3573-6
- Doyle, Ken. "Apostle to the apostles: The story of Mary Magdalene". Catholictimes, 11 September 2011  Accessed 13 March 2013
- "St. Mary Magdalen". Catholic Encyclopedia Online. . Accessed 12 Jan 2013
- See Marvin Meyer, with Esther A. de Boer, The Gospels of Mary: The Secret Traditions of Mary Magdalene the Companion of Jesus (Harper San Francisco) 2004;Esther de Boer provides an overview of the source texts excerpted in an essay "Should we all turn and listen to her?': Mary Magdalene in the spotlight". pp.74-96.
- "New Testament names - some Jewish notes". Oztorah.com. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
- John 20:11 and John 20:16.
- Mariam, The Magdalen, and The Mother Deirdre Good, editor Indiana University Press 601 North Morton Street, Bloomington, IN 47404-3797. Pages 9-10.
- "The Penitent Magdalene". The Walters Art Museum.
- "Schenk, Christine CSJ. "Mary of Magdala—Apostle to the Apostles"". Futurechurch.org. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
- Hufstader, Anselm, "Lefèvre d'Étaples and the Magdalen", p. 32, Studies in the Renaissance, Vol. 16, (1969), pp. 31-60, JSTOR
- Jane Schaberg, The Resurrection of Mary Magdalene: Legends, Apocrypha and The Christian Testament, page 88 (New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group, Inc., 2002). ISBN 0-8264-1645-4
- "Who Was Mary Magdalene?". Smithsonianmag.com. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
- Haskins, Susan. Mary Magdalene: Myth and Metaphor. Konecky (1993) ISBN 978-1568524962
- Williams, Mary Alice. "Mary Magdalene". PBS: Religion and Ethics. November 21, 2003. Episode no. 712. Web: 22 December 2009>
- Lester, Meera. "Mary Magdalene". Netplaces. Women of the Bible. Women Disciples and Followers of Christ. St. Mary Magdalene. 8/22/2011. 
- John Trigilio, Jr., Kenneth Brighenti, Saints For Dummies, pages 52-53 (Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2010). ISBN 978-0-470-53358-1
- Larry Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity. 260.
- The earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have verses 9–20 in Mark 16
- Bart D. Ehrman, Peter, Paul and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus In History and Legend (Oxford University Press, 2006). ISBN 0-19-530013-0
- Jackson, Wayne. "Demons: Ancient Superstition or Historical Reality?" Apologetics Press: Reason & Revelation. April 1998 - 18:25-31. Web. 26 March 2010.
- May, Herbert G. and Bruce M. Metzger. The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. 1977.
- "Mary & Martha: Friends of Jesus".
- Ricci, Carla and Paul Burns. Mary Magdalene and Many Others. Augsburg Fortress, 1994. ISBN 0-8006-2718-0
- Robert Kiely, "Picturing the Magdalene: how artists imagine the apostle to the apostles". 
- King, Karen L. "Women In Ancient Christianity: The New Discoveries". Frontline: The First Christians. Web: 2 November 2009.
- Ingrid Maisch, Th.D. (1998). Mary Magdalene: The Image of a Woman Through the Centuries. Liturgical Press. pp. 49–. ISBN 978-0-8146-2471-5. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
- Thomas F. Head (2001). Medieval Hagiography: An Anthology. Taylor & Francis Group. pp. 659–. ISBN 978-0-415-93753-5. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
- ""Gospel of Mary".". Earlychristianwritings.com. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
- De Boer, Esther A., The Gospel of Mary Listening to the Beloved Disciple. London: Continuum, 2006 (2005).
- Compare with .
- I. Miller, Robert J. (Robert Joseph). The Complete Gospels: Annotated Scholars Version. Polebridge Press, 1992, p. 365.
- The Old and New Testament and Gnostic contexts and the text are discussed by Robert M. Grant, "The Mystery of Marriage in the Gospel of Philip". Vigiliae Christianae 15.3 (September 1961:129-140).
- Thayer and Smith. "Greek Lexicon entry for Koinonos". The New Testament Greek Lexicon". searchgodsword.org
- This confusing reference is already in the original manuscript. It is not clear, if the text refers to Jesus' or his mother's sister, or whether the intention is to say something else.
- Meyer, Marvin (2004). The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-065581-5.
- Ehrman, Bart. Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend. Oxford University Press, USA. 2006. ISBN 0-19-530013-0
- Hurtak, J.J. and D.E. (1999) Pistis Sophia: Text and Commentary complete text with commentary.
- Robert Kiefer Webb, Richard J. Helmstadter (editors), Religion and Irreligion in Victorian Society: Essays in Honor of R.K. Webb, page 119 (London: Routledge, 1991). ISBN 0-415-07625-0
- Edgar Saltus, Mary Magdalene: A Chronicle (New York, Belford company, 1891). Available from Open Library .
- "The Secret Magdalene". The Secret Magdalene. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
- King, Karen I. "Women in Ancient Christianity: the New Discoveries". Public Broadcasting System (PBS) Frontline: From Jesus to Christ—The First Christians. Retrieved 01–11–2008.
- Ehrman, Bart. Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend, page 253 (Oxford University Press, USA. 2006). ISBN 0-19-530013-0
- Witherington, Ben III. "Mary, Mary, Extraordinary", beliefnet.com
- "Mulieris Dignitatem, John Paul II, 15 August 1988 - Apostolic Letter". Vatican.va. 1988-08-15. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
- "St Mary Magdalene, Catholic News Agency". Catholicnewsagency.com. 2006-07-23. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
- Darrell L. Bock, Breaking The Da Vinci Code, pages 143-144.
- Gregory of Tours, De miraculis, I, xxx.
- Saxer, La culte de St. Marie Magdalene en occident (1959).
- Ecole française de Rome, (1992).
- Jansen 2000.
- See Franco Mormando, "Virtual Death in the Middle Ages: The Apotheosis of Mary Magdalene in Popular Preaching", in Death and Dying in the Middle Ages, ed. Edelgard DuBruck and Barbara I. Gusick, New York, Peter Lang, 1999, pp. 257-74.
- "the Abbey of Vesoul" in William Caxton's translation.
- Medieval Sourcebook: The Golden Legend: Volume IV.
- , ,
- Hufstader, 32-40, and throughout the rest of the article
- See Franco Mormando, "Teaching the Faithful to Fly: Mary Magdalene and Peter in Baroque Italy" in Saints and Sinners: Caravaggio and the Baroque Image, Chestnut Hill, MA, McMullen Museum of Art, 1999, pp. 107-135.
- Mclaughlin, Lisa and David Van Biema. "Mary Magdalene Saint or Sinner?" timeonline.com, August 11, 2003. Accessed 7 June 2009
- H.D. Egan, An Anthology of Christian mysticism, Pueblo Publishing Co. (1992), pp.407ff.; cf. also, C. Bourgeault,The Meaning of Mary Magdalene: Discovering the Woman at the Heart of Christianity, Shambhala Publ. (2010), passim.
- T. Coletti, Mary Magdalene and the Drama of Saints, University of Pennsylvania Press (2004); E. De Boer, Mary Magdalene: Beyond the Myth, SCM Press (1997), pp.94ff.
- Evangelical Lutheran Worship, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2006, p. 57
- Abernethy and Beaty, The Folklore of Texan Cultures, Denton University of North Texas Press, 2000, p. 261.
- Juliet Thompson, I, Mary Magdalene, Foreword
- `Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 420
- `Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'í World Faith - `Abdu'l-Bahá Section, p. 385
- `Abdu'l-Bahá in London, p. 105
- `Abdu'l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 50
- `Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, pp. 39-40
- `Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of `Abdu'l-Bahá Vol.2, p. 467
- Mazal, Peter (2003–10–21). "Selected Topics of Comparison in Christianity and the Bahá'í Faith". bahai-library.org. Retrieved 2006–06–25.
- Brown, Raymond E. 1970. "The Gospel According to John (xiii-xxi)". New York: Doubleday & Co. Pages 922, 955.
- Pope, H. (1910). St. Mary Magdalen, in The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
- Note also that it is Mary Magdalene, among with other women, in who goes to Jesus' grave to anoint him.
- "The Gospel According to Mary Magdalene". Gnostic Scriptures and Fragments; The Gnostic Society of America. 
- Katherine Ludwig Jansen, The Making of The Magdalen: Preaching and Popular Devotion In The Later Middle Ages, page 151, footnote 20 (Princeton University Press, 2000). ISBN 0-691-08987-6. Citing Cavalca, Vita, 329; Life, 2-3.
- Jacobus de Voragine. "The Golden Legend: The Life of Mary Magdalene". Catholic-forum.com. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
- Katherine Ludwig Jansen, citing Jacques Levron, Le bon roi René (Paris: Arthaud, 1972).
- Fiona MacLeod, writing as "F.M". , The Divine Adventure: Iona: By Sundown Shores. Studies in spiritual history. (London: Chapman and Hall, 1900)
- Greek-Dictionary.net[dead link]
- The Christ Files: How Historians Know What They Know About Jesus, John Dickson, p. 95 (Sydney South: Blue Bottle Books, 2006). ISBN 1-921137-54-1
- Jeffrey John Kripal, The Serpent's Gift: Gnostic Reflections on the Study of Religion, p. 52 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2007). ISBN 0-226-45380-4 ISBN 0-226-45381-2
- B. D. Ehrman, Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend. New York: Oxford, 2006. p. 248.
- W.A. Sibly, M.D. Sibly, The History of the Albigensian Crusade: Peter of les Vaux-de-Cernay's "Historia Albigensis" (Boydell, 1998). ISBN 0-85115-658-4".
- Christian Churches of God. "The Treatise of Ermengaudus (No. B8)". Ccg.org. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
- Anne Bradford Townsend, The Cathars of Languedoc as heretics: From the Perspectives of Five Contemporary Scholars, page 147 (UMI Microform, ProQuest, 2008). PhD Dissertation 
- Walter L. Wakefield, Austin P. Evans, Heresies of the High Middle Ages: Translated with Notes, page 234 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991). ISBN 0-231-02743-5. The authors speculate on page 230 that this could have been the source used by Peter of Vaux de Cernay.
- Acocella, Joan. "The Saintly Sinner: The Two-Thousand-Year Obsession with Mary Magdalene". The New Yorker, February 13 & 20, 2006, p. 140–49. Prompted by controversy surrounding Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code.
- Brock, Ann Graham. Mary Magdalene, The First Apostle: The Struggle for Authority. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-674-00966-5. Discusses issues of apostolic authority in the gospels and the Gospel of Peter the competition between Peter and Mary, especially in chapter 7, "The Replacement of Mary Magdalene: A Strategy for Eliminating the Competition".
- Burstein, Dan, and Arne J. De Keijzer. Secrets of Mary Magdalene. New York: CDS Books, 2006. ISBN 1-59315-205-1.
- De Boer Esther A., Mary Magdalene, beyond the Myth (SCM Press London, 1997).
- Jurgen Moltmann and E. Moltmann-Wendel, Humanity in God (London: SCM, 1984).
- Jansen, Katherine Ludwig. The Making of the Magdalen: Preaching and Popular Devotion in the Later Middle Ages. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-691-05850-4.
- Kripal, Jeffrey John. (2007). The Serpent's Gift: Gnostic Reflections on the Study of Religion. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-45380-4 ISBN 0-226-45381-2.
- Pearson, Birger A. "Did Jesus Marry?". Bible Review, Spring 2005, pp 32–39 & 47. Discussion of complete texts.
- Picknett, Lynn, and Clive Prince. The Templar Revelation. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997. ISBN 0-593-03870-3. Presents a hypothesis that Mary Magdalene was a priestess who was Jesus' partner in a sacred marriage.
- Shoemaker, Stephen J. "Rethinking the ‘Gnostic Mary’: Mary of Nazareth and Mary of Magdala in Early Christian Tradition". in Journal of Early Christian Studies, 9 (2001) pp 555–595.
- Thiering, Barbara. Jesus the Man: Decoding the Real Story of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. New York: Simon & Schulster (Atria Books), 2006. ISBN 1-4165-4138-1.
- Wellborn, Amy. De-coding Mary Magdalene: Truth, Legend, and Lies. Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, 2006. ISBN 1-59276-209-3. A straightforward accounting of what is well-known of Mary Magdalene.
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