St Mary Magdalene -First woman mystic and ascetic

Saint Mary Magdalene –One of the first women mystics and ascetics of the Church

-The sinner turned extraordinary Saint

St Mary Magdalene---what an extraordinary saint! In the beginning she was the woman of great wealth, the sister of Martha and Lazarus with friends at the palace of Herod in Tiberias and more notoriously she was “the sinner from whom Jesus had cast out seven demons” (Mark 16:9). She then turned into the repentant sinner who anoints the feet of Jesus with costly perfume and bitter tears, and wipes them dry with her long hair, thus becoming the converted sinner and disciple who accompanies Jesus from Magdala in Galilee to Bethany in Judea, and later the faithful disciple who follows Jesus to Calvary, who remains steadfast at the foot of the Cross, is at the tomb during Jesus’ burial, and the last one to leave after. Above all, she is the chosen one to whom the risen Christ first appears on Easter Sunday, making her the “apostle to the apostles”. She is the messenger that Christ has conquered death, the Good News that became the very basis of Christian belief.

From the lips of Mary Magdalene came the most wondrous news of all time that would ring throughout Christendom in all the centuries to come: "Christ is risen!" and add to this the fact that she is mentioned 11 times in the four Gospels in connection with the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus, and from this we can see that with Mary Magdalene we have a case of an exceptional woman because of the prominence she is given in the Gospels.

Jesus made a great sinner the symbol of hope for all sinners. Who then could ever despair when recalling Jesus' love for Mary Magdalene? Gathered together in the person of Mary Magdalene, we find all the reasons for believing in the goodness of God, who sent His Son to rescue those who are lost. She became and remains the perfect symbol of the sinner who finds Christ and is transformed by His love.

Through the Gospel, we discover her extraordinary presence in the life of Christ, and the elevated place that He reserved for her in the heart of His Church. After she had anointed His feet, Jesus said I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her." (Matt 26:13) Thus, she is venerated even to this day. Her love was exceedingly great and pleasing to Christ, and like a heavenly luminary, it continues to be the beacon of hope of those who have sinned and strayed from God.

Her remarkable life after the Resurrection of Jesus

What is often not brought out about Mary Magdalene is her life after Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension into heaven and in particular her remarkable mystical life as revealed in the tradition of the Church as presented in early Church documents. The life of Mary Magdalene, as reflected in the Gospels, needs no embellishment, dramatization or glorification. The beauty, the drama, the dignity and grandeur are all there, ennobled with the divinity of Christ's presence.

Church tradition, legend and the historical record need not add anything to this already extraordinary life of repentance, conversion and love. The Gospels reveal that she had been given a mission, namely to announce the Good News; that she had seen Christ risen from the dead. As the first eyewitness to this greatest event in Christian history, Mary Magdalene could not and would not keep this wondrous news to herself. Her mission did not begin and end as the Apostle to the Apostles. She was a woman of fervor and courage and total devotion to Christ. Such great love must find expression.

When the first persecutions scattered the little Church of Jerusalem, those who were scattered went everywhere, preaching the word of Christ. Thus the persecuted Christians went about numerous ports around the Mediterranean basin that included Greece, Italy, Spain, France, and many other countries within the Roman Empire. France was then called Gaul; and the new life of Mary Magdalene begins there, on its Mediterranean coast. The area which cradles her tradition is known as “La Sainte Baume”.

The tradition that tells of the arrival of Mary Magdalene and her companions on the coast of Gaul (France), goes back to the earliest centuries of Christianity. Her flight from the persecutions in Palestine is set at the year 42, the same year that James the Greater was executed in Jerusalem.

Accompanied by Martha, Lazarus, Mary Salome and Mary Jacoby, the disciples Maximin and Sidonius [two of the 70 disciples referred to in the Gospels], with Marcella their servant, Mary Magdalene embarked [or were forced onto?] a small boat, crossed the Mediterranean, and arrived near the city of Marseilles [France], then known as Massilia. The small port where they came ashore was called Rha that later became known as Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (Holy Marys of the Sea). Tradition maintains that the boat with its eight passengers docked safely, and that it had neither oars, sails, nor steering device. It could have run into a storm that destroyed its gear, or it could have been pushed out to sea in that unstable condition by their persecutors; whatever the actual cause of the crippling of their boat, they all set foot in Rha.

Mary Salome, Mary Jacoby and Marcella remained in Rha while the others made their way overland to Massilia. Arriving in Massilia was like entering any other Roman-occupied city with its paved streets, shops, villas, gardens, pools, a stadium or theater, and inns. It was an important commercial port. Whether its people were familiar with the news concerning the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is not known.

In any event, it is said that the small group began to preach near the temples where the pagan Gods were worshipped. Statues of these Roman deities-Jupiter, Juno, Minerva, Diana, Venus, Mars, Apollo and others -adorned the temples, and religious ceremonies were held at the altars dedicated to them.

Mary Magdalene and her companions denounced the false Gods, and told them the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They converted many. Some time later, Martha leaves them to go to Tarascon, a place roughly 25 miles northwest of Massilia, Maximin goes to Aix, 20 miles north of Massilia, while Mary Magdalene, Lazarus and Sidonius continue to preach in the city.

After some months, Mary Magdalene and the disciple Sidonius leave Lazarus in Massilia, where he becomes its first bishop, and travel northward, following the Huveaune river until they reach its source in the hills that would become known as La Sainte Baume. The immense natural cave they discover in the rocks, the size of a large house, becomes the new home of Mary Magdalene. Some miles down the valley was the village bearing the Roman name of Villalata that in centuries to come would be known as Saint-Maximin-La-Sainte-Baume.

Her extraordinary mystical life and mystical graces

The magnificent cave-grotto must have been even more out of the way then it is to the pilgrim of today. It is here in this hermitage that Mary Magdalene spends the next 30 years of her life in solitude, in meditation and contemplation. But her solitude is only that of the world, for seven times a day angels came down to the cave and took her to the top of the hill where she is given the grace to hear the music and songs that are the sounds of heaven. From this height, the view stretches as far as the Mediterranean, and overlooks the surrounding forest, hills and valleys. On a clear day, one can visualize right across the sea, the coast of Africa; and further east, Palestine. It is presumed that she is here often drawn into ecstasy, although details of which are not in the written record. The record does state however that she neither ate nor drank for the thirty years that she lived in the grotto. It is also presumed that during her 30 years as a hermitess in the cave of La-Sainte-Baume, she suffered and sacrificed in reparation not only for her own sins, but also as a soul victim for others, and that the early Church benefitted greatly from her sacrificial life of penances and mortifications, offered in union with her beloved Jesus, for the sake of His Church.

Following 30 years spent in prayer and longing to be reunited with Jesus, the day came when Jesus enlightened her that death was approaching, and He guided her down the hill toward the village of Villalata. On the way there (and a pillar still marks the place), she was met by Maximin who had been divinely inspired to go to meet her and lead her to his church. Once there, having received holy communion from his hand, she falls lifeless before the altar. The date was July 22, around the year 72 A.D.

St Maximin ordered her body to be interred with great dignity and pomp, and commanded that he himself be buried near her tomb after his death. And such was her beauty in the eyes of the Lord that during seven days the oratory was filled with the holy perfume of her sanctity.
One of the earliest documents on the life of Mary Magdalene after the death of Christ is a text in Latin, by an anonymous author. It dates back to the fifth or sixth century. In part, it reads as follows:

“After the glory of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the triumph of his Ascension, and the coming of the Holy Spirit, the word of God was spread far and wide, and the number of the faithful grew day by day. But the Priests of the Jews, the Pharisees and Scribes, kindled the fire of persecution, and chased most of Jesus' witnesses out of Judea. During the terrible persecutions, the disciples traveled to different places of the world to announce the Good News to the Gentiles.

One of the 70 disciples was Maximin, known for his perfection in moral integrity, illustrious through his doctrine, and honored for the gift he had been granted to perform miracles.

In the same manner as the Blessed Mother was placed in the care of John, so Mary Magdalene was placed in the care of Maximin, attentive to his religious guidance.
This is how, during the dispersion, Mary Magdalene left all her possessions and traveled to the sea, where in the company of Maximin, she boarded a vessel and safely arrived near the port of Marseille [France].

There, inspired by the Lord, they made their way to the town of Aix, and by their fasting, prayers, and through the spreading of the divine message, they attracted people to the cult of God, even though many were at first incredulous and not yet reborn through the waters of baptism.

Maximin governed the Church of Aix for numerous years, preaching the Word of God, chasing demons, anointing the dying, curing the blind and the crippled, and healing all manner of sickness.

When the time came for Mary Magdalene to be freed of her earthly body, she saw Christ who came to call her to the glory of the heavenly Kingdom. He came to give the substance of eternal life to the one who had so faithfully given of her substance when he walked the earth.

She died on the eleventh day before the Kalends of August, namely on July 22, amidst great rejoicing of the angels in heaven. Maximin embalmed her most holy body with many aromatic herbs, and placed it in an honorable tomb, over which he elevated a most beautiful church. There can be seen her white marble sarcophagus with sculptures that represent her story as to how she came to find the Lord at the house of Simon, and so obtained forgiveness of her sins, and the devout duties she carried out for the Savior's entombment."

Like many other ancient writings and works of art, this document has no signature. However, it indicates that the tradition of La-Sainte-Baume goes back to the earliest centuries of Christianity. Later in the 9th century, the martyrologist of King Alfred the Great of England, compiled all the known traditions and legends into a liturgical document. It contained some precisions on Mary Magdalene that confirmed the earlier Latin document, as seen by the following extracts:

"July 22 is the Feastday of Mary of Magdala, who had previously been a sinner plagued by seven demons. She came to see our Lord whilst he was at table in the house of a Jewish Pharisee, carrying a vase of precious perfumed ointment. And the Lord said to her: 'Your sins are forgiven, go in peace.'

Later she was chosen by Christ to witness his apparition at the Resurrection, the first of all mortals, and to announce his Resurrection to the Apostles.
After the Ascension, being torn with such terrible grief at his absence, she withdrew to a barren land where she remained for thirty years. Never in need of nourishment, God's angels came down seven times a day and trans¬ported her up to where she could hear the celestial music of heaven, and then carried her back to her grotto carved in the rock. It is for this reason that she was never hungry or thirsty.

And so it came to pass that after thirty years, a priest went to meet her in the desert and led her to his church. He gave her holy communion, whereafter she rendered her spirit to God, and the priest buried her. And many miracles took place at her tomb."

The two previous documents are historically important because of their description of the arrival of Mary Magdalene in ancient Gaul and the thirty years she spent in the cave grotto. The first was written before the Saracen invasion of France, and the second during the time the tomb and holy remains were concealed in the Church of Saint Maximin.

There were other documents relating to the life of Mary Magdalene in the Grotto of La-Sainte-Baume, but the most important ones that finally and definitely affirmed that the holy remains of Mary Magdalene were in Saint-Maximin, were the Bulls of Pope Boniface VIII, in 1295.

The miraculous events surrounding the rediscovery of the tomb of her holy remains
In the year 710, the Monks of the monestary of St Maximin were forced to flee their Monestary because of the invading Saracens (Moslem tribes from Arabia). They knew that they could not leave the holy remains of St Mary Magdalene for the invaders to destroy, so they devised a plan to move her remains into a more humble tomb next to the original as a diguise, and then bury the entire Chapel with earth and sand so that no part was visible.
Finally, the Arab occupation came to an end in the 10th century, but while the citizens remembered the events surrounding the burial of the Chapel and the tombs, the exact location was not known.

In 1279, Prince Charles II of Salerno, nephew of King Louis IX of France, resolved to find the tomb of Mary Magdalene. Under the direction of a number of Church dignitaries and nobles, the search began in earnest, and workmen began the excavation work inside the church of Saint-Maximin and the land surrounding it.
The search continued for many days, and the prince himself joined in with the laborers removing mountains of earth. At last, they came upon a crypt that dated back to the 1st century.

The crypt was filled with earth and sand and they began removing this. On December 9, 1279, as Prince Charles was displacing the earth from the middle of the Crypt, the workmen digging on his right discovered a marble tomb buried deep in the sand. It was the sarcophagus-tomb of Sidonius, the one into which the holy remains of Mary Magdalene had been placed prior to the Monks fleeing in 710.

Before they were able to open it, a most marvelous fragrance rose up from the tomb that made all those present believe they had not found the treasure they were searching for.
On December 18, a number of Bishops, including the Archbishop of Arles and the Archbishop of Aix, came to Saint-Maximin, and in the name of the Church, officially witnessed the opening of the tomb.
The body was found to be complete except for a bone of the jaw that was missing. Among the dust particles at the bottom of the tomb, a small piece of cork was found. Inside it was a message written on parchment. It read:
"Year of the nativity of our Lord, 710, this sixth day of the month of December, under the reign of (not legible) and during the ravages of the Saracen nation, in fear of the Saracens, the body of the well-loved and venerable Mary Magdalene has been transferred, to be better concealed, from the alabaster tomb to the one in marble, out of which the body of Sidonius has been removed.'

The prince, overjoyed at having found the holy remains of Mary Magdalene, called together on May 5, 1280, in the town of Saint-Maximin, the prelates and a great number of religious of Provence and of France, together with the counts, barons, knights and persons of high rank in his kingdom and the nobles attached to his court, in order to proceed to the solemn elevation and translation of the relics.

The prelates having come to the tomb to remove the holy body, and while in the process of performing this venerable task, discovered a small ball of wax that contained a piece of bark. On it was a message more ancient than the parchment, and hardly legible. Written in Latin, it read:
"Hic requiescit corpus Mariae Magdalenae" (Here lies the body of Mary Magdalene)

The finding of this second testimonial caused great rejoicing among all those present and also the vast number of people outside who had come from many parts to assist at this solemn occasion.

There were several signs that were remarkable considering the body had been buried since the 1st century. It was found that the tongue still adhered to the mouth cavity, and from it had grown an aromatic plant. On seeing this marvel, the prince burst out into loud sobs. And overcome by deep emotion, he wept openly, bringing on the tears of many of those present.

The most remarkable sign of all was the small piece of skin that was found to be attached to the brow. It was smooth, clear, and lighter than the remainder of the body, and was the size of two fingertips. As it resembled live skin, it was subsequently named the "Noli me tangere" (Do not touch me)-the words spoken by Christ to Mary Magdalene at the Resurrection; it was believed to have been the touch of the risen Lord on the brow of Mary Magdalene.

This small particle of skin remained unchanged for another five hundred years, and no suitable explanation was ever found for the phenomenon. Five centuries after its discovery, it finally detached itself from the brow, and was placed in a separate reliquary.

And so we have in Mary Magdalene one of the first (if not the first) women mystics and hermits of the Church. Her cave-grotto with its remarkable view is now a large Chapel where Mass is celebrated each day. It houses an extraordinary reliquary containing part of her tibia bone and also the chapel boasts several beautiful statues and a beautiful altar. The Basilica of Saint Mary Magdalen in nearby Saint Maximin, Vézelay, France contains the tomb and the blessed remains of Saint Mary Magdalen. Since the 11th century the Basilica of St Mary Magdalen (known in French as Basilique Ste-Madeleine) in Vézelay has been one of the greatest European pilgrimage locations, especially during the middle ages. It is a large Basilica, only a few yards shorter that the great Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.

~St Mary Magdalene, pray for us!

"It is presumed that during her 30 years as a hermitess in the cave of La-Sainte-Baume, she suffered and sacrificed in reparation not only for her own sins, but also as a soul victim for others, and that the early Church benefitted greatly from her sacrificial life of penances and mortifications, offered in union with her beloved Jesus, for the sake of His Church."


Anonymous said...

I love St. Mary Magdalene... By her actions during the time of Christ, we've learned so much about how Christ treated sinners, women and all those who loved Him despite of being laughed at and put down by the authorities...

We, still have the same behavior of people today, even after 2000 of years, even in the church...

She was FREE in her actions out of pure love for Jesus, and Jesus returned her love back... She was rewarded to see resurrected Christ before Peter did !!!...
What a grace!!!

Her uncompromising love to Jesus made her one of the greatest saints of all times...

Saint Mary Magdalene give me strength to love Jesus as you did on Earth, and as you do now in Heaven...

Glenn Dallaire said...

Hi Anonymous,
Thanks for your comments. I too always thought that it was remarkable that Jesus appeared to Mary Magdelene BEFORE any of His apostles. Perhaps it was because she who was forgiven the most had loved the most. Then too I believe that Jesus appeared to Mary Magdelene first to show us His great MERCY; letting the one who was once a great sinner share in the joy of the Resurrection first as a sign of His love and mercy towards all sinners.

Thanks again for your comments and may God bless you and yours,
Glenn Dallaire

Gerard said...

That was a wonderful article! I read a book by Edith Filliete describing what you did in your article.
I had the great honor to visit the Basilica of St Maximin 10 years ago when I was deployed for a short time with the Air Force. I saw the sacred head of St. Mary Magdalene in the crypt, 20 feet below the Cathedral. I was supposed to be working and was only there a week but miraculously got off and saw everything. The Dominicans as you may know maintain the Cave at St. Baume.
In the writings of Maria Valtorta"the Hermitess" this place is also described.
Finally, I find it frustrating that well meaning Priests and those in the West seem not to realize that Mary Magdalene was the sister of Martha and Lazarus. I just heard a respectful sermon this week about Simon the Pharisee and Mary but the connection that it is Mary Magdalene is not made.
Keep up the great work as I believe that mystical theology is a much needed Charism for our times.

God Bless you, your family and your work+++Gerard Beer- Pittsburgh, PA

Glenn Dallaire said...

Hi Gerard,
Thanks for your comments. I too have read Maria Valtorta's writings on St Mary Magdalene and I appreciate them immensely. In fact, it was through her writings where I developed a great admiration and devotion for Mary Magedelene.

You where very blessed to have been able to visit the visit the Basilica of St Maximin. I would love to make a pilgrimage there someday.

You are very right that the family connection between Mary Magdalene and Lazarus and Martha (ie- the fact that they were very likely brother/sisters is not widely accepted, at least here in the "West". Although there is a pretty strong tradition pointing to this fact, as stated in the article.

Thanks again for your comments and may God bless you and your loved ones,
-Glen Dallaire

riverfarmgirl said...

Good article - but I wanted to mention that it was the BLESSED MOTHER whom Jesus first appeared to after his Resurrection -- according to mystical tradition...I love St. Mary Magdalene, but it always bothers me when priests and others say he first appeared to Mary Magdalene (yes I know that is in the scriptures) - but we know our Holy Mother is so humble and unassuming...she would never have that put into scripture....but of course Jesus would FIRST appear to his Holy only makes sense, don't you think?

Anonymous said...

Let us pray we can live as one with our Heavenly Father, as did our heavenly Sister, finding Him in utter contentment and abandonment of possessions, in order to possess Him alone! Amen.

One finds it remarkable that after His Resurrection, Our Lord consistently appears to His own, even as He does in our day, hidden in our neighbor as a fellow traveler to Emmaus, or here, to our dear Saintly Sister in Christ, as a common laborer. The Gardener… A return to Eden, isn’t it? Our original intent and journey which our first parents abandoned, souls should now ascend to, finding Him only when we return to our Heavenly Father, yes? That is the message one gleans here overall…

Our Lord appears to Mary as the Gardener… there is a remarkable coincidence one would think, that an aromatic plant grew from her tongue, planted there by Him. Let us reflect upon that for awhile. It seems that she only recognizes Him when He lovingly addresses her by name, and then she finds Him in loving response, recognizing Him as we must begin to do again, embracing Him in recognition, especially in the simple and ignorant disguises He assumes today. The next time we pass a simple stranger on the street, or in the store, or behind the house in the neighbor’s yard, it is a game we play, recognizing Christ within them. Hard sometimes though, when He is so hidden and ignored by society, and so society hardly reflects Him. What does one do? Reach out with a “God bless you” right? It’s a beginning.

The power of a priestly blessing here is amazing and that it is recognized as such equally wonderful! The discernment and astonishment and integrity of that era which was so concentrated upon the Divine, needs to return to our era once again. How beautiful that a saint’s relics were so lovingly disguised, and cared for, and that these pure treasures of our Holy Faith were so sought after by royal dignitaries.

Let us pray our world once again, especially our government, is enthused by our Holy Heritage, enough to dig them up. Amen. Glory be to God. Amen.

Glenn Dallaire said...

Hi Riverfarmgirl,
Thank you for your comments.

-Concernining Jesus appering to His Mother first at His Resurrection on Easter morning--I know the mystic Maria Valtorta was "shown" this in a vision, and I would not be surprised if this has been revealed to other mystics also...

Although the Gospels have Jesus appearing to St Mary Magdalene first, it would not be surprising to me at all if in reality He appeared to His Mother first.

But I think most would agree that there is a message behind Jesus appearing first to Mary Magdalene in the Gospels: "...Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out." (Luke 8:1) --given that she was once a grave sinner.

-I mean to say, why did Jesus appear to Mary Magdalene first, and not Peter or one of the other Apostles? I think that most would agree that the message is that Mary Magdalene--the sinner who turned from her "seven deadly sins", repented and loved Jesus--
represents Jesus' mission of mercy and forgiveness for all, even the most notorious sinners. "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Luke 5:32). But in the end it would not suprise me at all if in reality Jesus appeared to His Mother first on the Blessed Easter morning.

Thanks again for your comments.
-St Mary Magdalene, pray for us!
Glenn Dallaire

Anonymous said...

I was privileged to visit her tomb in 1996 in a group led by Sr Rose, a wonderful French nun, who tragically died in a road accident in the UK weeks later,RIP.Two ladies praying at the statue of St Mary Magdalene in the crypt just o/s her tomb were most moved to find oil exuded from her jar, with a beautiful scent.We had tissues wiped in the oil in our bus with the beautiful scent for days afterwards.Thanks be to God for His mercies.St Mary Magdalene pray for us!

Anonymous said...

To the writer of this beautiful, very informative and inspiring story about St, Mary Magdalene, I sincerely thank you. I will surely encourage my own family and all my friends to read this article in order to give them awareness of the unconditional love of our Lord Jesus, His readiness to forgive and bestowing endless mercy upon everyone, who with contrite heart, repents of their sins against God.
Afer reading this story, the Holy Spirit enlightened me as to why at Calvary, Almighty God the Father allowed two great sinners, the two thieves, each on a cross, positioned next to His Only Begotten Son, Jesus, and, at the Resurrection tomb to have as an eye witness, another great sinner, in
the person of Mary Magdalene. It is because God wants to tell all of us, His children, that He is All Loving and Merciful
God and we, the SINNERS, only need to ACKNOWLEDGE
Him as our God, REPENT of our sins, ASK for His
forgiveness, WAIT for His mercy and to GRANT us the
SALVATION of our soul.
So, at the beginning of this new Liturgical year, the Advent season, the time of AWAKENING, let us all wake up from the darkness of this world that we live in now, this era that
is thousand times worse as the time of Noah, Sodom and
Gomorrha. Let us all give time for God in prayers and doing
good works of mercy. Do not give HIM spare time or NO TIME but give God PRIME TIME! DO NOT PUT HIM ASIDE or AWAY from your life. I am sure you do not want HIM to put you away from His Book of Life and Blessings. God bless us all and the world.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this beautiful history of the life of St. Mary Magdalene. Most of it is brand new information to me. I appreciate this very much.

I wonder if you could research St. Bernhardt Lehner of Germany. Also, I would like to see posted the picture of Lucia De Santos when she first had the vision of Our Lady of Fatima, rather than the picture you are using on this site.


Anonymous said...

"And so we have in Mary Magdalene one of the first (if not the first) women mystics and hermits of the Church. "
OOPs! Hermit maybe, but First female mystic of the church - that's got to be Mary as in the Blessed Virgin surely?!

Glenn Dallaire said...

As far as the Blessed Virgin Mary being the first "Mystic of the Church", well I suppose in some ways that is a given, but in Her elevated status as the Mother of God, and having passed through this life unstained by sin, I would say that She certainly doesn't fit under the "traditional" human catergory of a mystic--

Perhaps She could be called the "Mother of Mystics", but She is certainly more aptly described as the "Immaculate Conception" and the "Virgin Mary" and the "Mother of God".

May God bless you and yours,
Glenn Dallaire

Glenn Dallaire said...

One reader [who I will keep anonymous] emailed me the following excellent question-observation:
"On your web site you had featured Mary Magdalen. In the article's opening paragraph, you wrote that St Mary Magdalene what an extraordinary saint. In the beginning she was the woman of great wealth the sister of Martha and Lazarus. I think you have mixed up the two Marys. Mary of Martha and Lazarus lived in Bethany. Mary Magdalene was from Magdala. It was she that had the 7 demons cast out.
She was the woman who annointed Jesus' feet with oil and she was the one at the foot of the cross. I was taught this by several priests in Pa and also in Florida. Please correct me if I am wrong, but there were at least 2 Marys besides Mary Jesus' mother."

Surely this makes for an interesting discussion!

Here at least is my reply (for what it is worth):

...This is something that has been debated amongst scripture theologians for at least the past two centuries. In fact, one of the books that I have on St Mary Magdalene dwells quite deeply on this particular subject of what is called the "two Mary's"...

To summarise the discussion, throughout the centuries (that is, traditionally) the Roman Catholic Church writers and scholars have believed that Mary of Bethany (the sister of Lazarus and Martha) was the same person as Mary Magdalene (who is believed to have had some ties to the town of "Magdala" hence the name "Magdalene").

Some more recent Biblical scholars are of the opinion that they were two different people---hence the "two Mary's" opinion. This however, is only a relatively recent "speculation", and historically the Catholic Church tradition has favored the opinion that Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene are one and the same person. The Orthodox and the Protestant Churches have held that they are two (and even sometimes three!) different people.

Anyway, for those interested there are articles in Wikpedia and elsewhere on the internet that delve into this subject, but the one's that I have read both in books and online all seem to agree that it has been the longstanding traition of the Catholic Church that Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalen are one and the same person, and so as for myself I tend to side with the tradition of the Church, as opposed to the intepretation of more modern Biblical scholars.

If someday we make it to heaven, God willing, we will certainly find out for sure!
~St Mary Magdalene, pray for us!

Glenn Dallaire

Grace said...

Wow! - This article is so informative, I always was amazed by the story of St. Mary Magdalene - but never learned so much as from this article. I will pass it on so more people could read about her! - May she intercede for us and especially for my family!

Anonymous said...

I am so excited reading st.Mary Magdalene. This year (2011), dirning the saints' pick, St.Mary Magdalene has picked me to pray for me. Not knowing much about her, I was anxious to learn more about her. Her feast day, 22nd July has significances in the lives of two of my own and I just used to pray to St.Mary Magdalene for them too. More than that, My childhoold parish alter wall picture was that of the death of Jesus - Jesus on the cross, Bl.MOther, St.John and St.Mary Magdalene at the foot of the cross. Sometime back(May be 8-10 years), As I sit to pray, this painting used to come into my vision and I used to replace St.Mary Magdalene by myself and pray. I noticed myself that I could never pray for me alone, but anything for others too - even begging pardon for the sins of all of in the family, community, church, country, and for the whole world. I started seeing the Father Almighty above the cross and the Holy Spirit in betwen them - thus praying to the Holy Triniyt. Recenty as I was brousing , I came across the picture of St.Lucy's vision of the Holy Trinity wherein Jesus was asking her that Russia should be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Bl.Virgin. I was overjoyed to ahve seen that picture, though St.Mary Magdalene is not there in that picture.
Today, I was again on this site reading more about it and my mouse caught fire which spread thru the MIstics of the Church, St.Gemma Galani, St. Tressa of Child Jesus and ..... As I reached the first woman mistic, St.Mary Magdalene,Vow!!!!!!!, that was God's plan that I learn more about her and pray more ardently for her intercession, for she was the most fogiven soul with the BEST gift from the Lord Jesus himself - vision of the risen Lord -
I know, I too am a great sinner, a very very outspoken person, calling for the hatred of anyone and everyone I come across. My lost tempered nature and boldness to speak openly, add to the misery. My life, right now, is a totally under condemnation, even by my husband and my own kins, no-one to understand or to look into the reality, no sense of justice, no spiritual eagerness which keep us travel in the opp. directions. Sometimes, I feel totally lost an desperate, very lonely in life. Only consolation after each fight/criticism, is to run to Jesus and sit at His feet as St.Mary Magdalene.

Having read St.Mary Magdalene, I have decided to pray more fervently for the intercessio of St.Mary Magdalene for all the graces that made her live totally for Jesus, to be able to go through all sorts of spiritual attacks - condemnation, mockery, rejection etc. etc. and also to be more deligent and fervent with my prayer and fasting life. I am sure, God will grant me and all whom I go with, His pardon and enrich us with the spirit to live the way He want us to live and to attain His glory. Friends, pls join St.Mary Magdalene in interceding for us. My prayers for you all too..... GOD BLESS YOU ALL !!!!!!!! - Ally

Glenn Dallaire said...

Hi Ally,
Thank you for your comments. I am really happy to hear of your devotion to St Mary Magdalene. I pray that she may always be very close to you, and may she lead you ever closer to Jesus.

-St Mary Magdalene, pray for us!
Glenn Dallaire

Anonymous said...

Hello Glenn,
I Love Mary Magdalene and my love of her grew in the readings of Maria Valtorta, and she wrote in the Poem of Man God that she was the sister of Martha and Lazarus. They were from Magdala and were wealthy, however, when she received Jesus' Mercy, she was then known as "Mary of Jesus" as Christ tells Peter, and also known as Mary of Bethany because it was at bethany when she received God's mercy. well this is just a comment and what i read from Maria Valtorta in her Poem of Man God but even then she is seem as quite radical. But you must read her writings before judging, thats my motto when i speak of her. :D


Glenn Dallaire said...

Hi Suzette,
Thanks for you comments!

I too have read all 5 volumes of "The Poem of the Man-God" and I think that they are excellent complement to the holy Scriptures.

Mary Magdalene, (along with Jesus, Mary, the apostles and many other biblical personages) literally "come alive" through the reading of "The Poem" is truly a monumental work. Because it is "private revelation" we can't be certain of all the details presented, but it is certainly "food for thought".

Thanks again and may God bless you and yours,
Glenn Dallaire

Anonymous said...

Our Lord's dictations to His beloved Maria Valtorta are beautiful to read and can only enliven one's faith and love for Him and all Hs loved ones, especially Mother Mary. These dictations of His life perfectly compliment Mother Mary's dictations of Her life to MARIA de Jesus de Agreda (Spain), a four volume work that underwent the very close scrutiny, for twelve years, of the extremely holy inquisitors of the Spanish Iquisition. This monumental work of Mother Mary was found to have no error, and received the approbaton of five popes. These four volumes are entitled The City of God, which is another title of Our Lady, THE SAME CITY OF GOD SEEN BY ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST IN THE APOCOLYPSE. DESCENDING FROM HEAVEN.

Anonymous said...

Please St.Mary, Pray for us all and our children in this time of trouble and danger in the world... That we may have strength and love and serve JESUS loyally with perfect love . Please St.Mary pray that our eyes are open to the truth and that we maybe forgiven of our sins and walk with JESUS . St.Mary please pray that we may receive our Lord JESUS CHRISTS love in our hearts body soul and mind. Thank you St.Mary

Anonymous said...

Mary Magdalene Sister of my Soul

gave me my Charism of Love

Amber Giles aka mags

Anonymous said...

It is now obvious the Waldenses came from Mary Magdalene and the other disciples of Jesus Christ

Anonymous said...

I mean...

"love yourself, others and every situation, no matter what the outward appearances may be" -Mary Magdalene

Donna said...

I very much enjoyed this article and am inspired by it. Thank you for your hard work and research as well as sharing this with the world.

Yours in faith,

Anonymous said...

Great article. I do not believe it was Holy Mary. Scripture tells us at the time just before Jesus died on the cross he paired/appointed Holy Mary with John as her son since the Son of Man (flesh) Jesus will no longer be her son.

Anonymous said...

I was very blessed to attend the Easter Retreat by the Dominicans who are custodians of the Grotto at Ste. Baume, an incredible experience and one I would highly recommend. It was here that I learned of the family connection between Lazarus, Martha and their "wayward" younger sister, Mary of Magdala, and because of previous teaching, it was a bit of a shock. That aside, the particular charism of the Magdalene - do not forget, she is the patron of the Domininicans, the Order of Preachers - is an exceptional one (and I think that this is another reason for the survival of her tongue and the fragrant herb). In the monastery chapel are a series of THE most stunning murals, painted at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries - which depict scenes from her life, including her standing on an upturned boat in Marseilles harbour, valiantly holding up a cross and preaching to a ramshackle gathering of sailors and fisherman.

To experience the Triduum in her shrine is truly wonderful. I am also one who feels a great connection with her because of my terrible past life and I have a great devotion to her. The Dominican community live high up in the hills above St Maximin-Ste-Baume and it is a good half hour's drive away down twisting, turning roads typical of the area. I arrived at the Basilica at lunchtime and there wasn't a soul in the place. The saint's skull is in a beautiful gold reliquiary in a tiny crypt. The rest of her remains are, as you rightly say, in Vezelay which is several hundred kilometers away from Provence to the north, in Burgundy.

As I glanced at her for the first time, I cannot be sure if it was a trick of the light on the glass or an incredible privilege from the saint herself - and I am not one to usually make such claims - but what happened next made me gasp in amazement. For a split second, I did not see a skull at all, rather the sleeping face of a very old but extremely beautiful woman. She was gone again in an instant and although I spent several minutes trying to recapture her, observing her from every angle, merely her skull remained. This is the skull which is carried in joyful procession on her feastday of July 22nd through the town.

I wear her medal around my neck, purchased in the monastery shop, and I continue to thank and honour her for her great witness and example to all poor sinners who seek to amend their lives and faithfully follow Our Blessèd Lord until the end of their days, wherever that path may lead. Thank you for the wonderful narrative about the rediscovery of her tomb and the miraculous signs which accompanied it, I had never heard any of that.

I often return to this wonderful website, it is a great source of inspiration.
May God continue to bless you.

PS With regard to Our Lord appearing to His Belovèd Mother on Easter Sunday, I seem to remember Anne Catherine Emmerich also recording this, though my memory may be playing tricks on me.

Marie said...

Thank you, Glenn, for this beautiful article on St. Mary Magdalene, whom I credit for my coming back to the Church after many years of wayward wandering.

My parents were married on the feast of St. Mary Magdalene, nine months and four days later, I (their eldest) was born. I'd like to think I was conceived on her feast day.

St. Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany have been traditionally believed by the Church as one and the same person, and I believe this to be true.

The other Marys with her on the boat crossing the Mediterranean were Mary Jacoby (also called "Mary of Alphaeus or Cleopas", the mother of St. James the Lesser and St. Jude) and Mary Salome (mother of St. James the Greater and St. John the Evangelist). These two Marys may have already been widowed at that time and since their sons have been dispatched by the Lord as apostles, they were free to join in Mary Magdalene's missionary work.

Glenn Dallaire said...

Dear Marie,
Thank you for sharing this information and also the wonderful story of St Mary Magdalene's intercession in your life. -St Mary Magdalene, pray for us!

May God bless you and your loved ones,
Glenn Dallaire

Anonymous said...

The real founder of Christianity! Christ loved her dearly that she was present in the life events of Christ. Since, Christianity is patriarchal, woman like Magdalene had no chance to become a leader.

Anonymous said...

I just want to know did Jesus @ that moment go to his Father in heaven When he was @ the tomb?
Is this why he stopped Magdalene from making him unclean by touching him? Would this have prevented him from going to see his Father in Heaven?
..When he revealed himself to Thomas and the apostles did Jesus Christ had already come down from heaven from seeing his Father.. and this is why Jesus let Thomas touch him..? Plz explain...

Glenn Dallaire said...

Hi Anonymous,
I'll reply to your questions to the best of my understanding:
1) No, Jesus has not yet ascended into heaven so this is why he told Mary Magdelene that He had not yet gone to the Father.
2)and 3) Yes.
4) No, as He has not yet Ascended into Heaven. The Apostles Creed explains this period as "...He descended into hell; on the third day He rose again from the dead;"
5) After His resurrection on the 3rd day, He was then in His glorified state (Glorified body/soul/spirit) and was not necessarily in heaven proper, as He had not yet Ascended into heaven (40 days)...I don't think the Church understands precisely where He was (perhaps lower heaven or maybe Purgatory??) in the period after the Resurrection but before the Ascension. The older translation of the apostles Creed used to say "He descended into the dead".

-Hope this helps a bit.

May God bless you and your loved ones,
Glenn Dallaire

Anonymous said...

Thank you for helping me Glenn. I have another question
1....Was God not happy with Cain's offering because it wasn't an animal sacrifice in the Book of Genesis. 4:1
Plz explain and give other verses in the Bible that gives more detail And clarity...plz

Or do we assume that Cain was a bad person and God did not like his offering because he was bad..If they both brought to God the best of the best of there work. Is there any verses in the Bible where it states that Cain was a bad person. ?

Glenn Dallaire said...

Hi Anonymous,
Good question! As far as I have always understood it Scripture does not state specifically why Cain was displeasing to God. However if you have a little time to research there are some online Scripture commentaries that may shed some more light on this matter.
May God bless you and your loved ones,
Glenn Dallaire

Unknown said...

Dear Friends,
It is a mistake to think of Mary Magdalene as a great sinner. She was healed by Jesus of seven demons. Illnesses at that time were often couched in terms of demons. She was ill, and then she was healed by him.There is also no reason to believe that she was mentally ill, that was not the meaning of demons in this case. She provided money for his ministry, and she was at the foot of the cross and at the tomb; as reported in all the Gospels. She was a strong, committed, and dedicated, "Apostles to the Apostles." It was an error to ever name her as a prostitute, and the church has recanted that. She was not a wayward younger sister, there is no scriptual evidence of that at all. I, too, have been to La Baume and was struck with its mystery and holiness.

Anonymous said...

Not sure if anyone can explain this to me. Why did Mary collect blood from Jesus. I always thought blood was unclean in Judaism. Could someone please explain this to me, and send links to the information?
Thank you in advance.

Anonymous said...

Saint Mary Magdalene,
You realized that Jesus was the Messiah. You honored Him as did the Three Kings with sacred oils. You assisted and helped our Blessed Mother in soaking up the Sacred and the Precious Blood of our Lord and Redeemer on the road to Calvary. Jesus chose to reveal His resurrection on the third day to you before others. He loved you...He raised your brother Lazarus from the dead and cleansed you of evil spirits. Please ask Him for His love for you, your family and me to bring __________ back to life as He did Lazarus and cleanse him/her from all demons. I promise to promote devotion to your intercession and thank you for comforting me as you comforted our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

One World View said...

Could you please cite the references?
The article continually states tradition as the source but no reference to where that tradition is annotated. I also just watched a Travel Channel episode on Saint Magdalene and they kept saying, "Legend says..." and again, no references for the legend. Are legend and tradition reliable sources?

The article also states that there is no explanation for the preservation of the skin, but to what analysis was the tissue submitted? Has it been submitted for DNA or carbon dating verification? Not that those are always accurate, but it could eliminate some opposition.

Finally, is there any possibility that the relics, tradition, or legend are fabricated? Not accusing, just wondering as to what scrutiny the Church has used to verify authenticity of the claims.

Anonymous said...

It is said that Mary Magdale e along with her companions brought the holy relic of Saint Anne,the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary to France.

Elizabeth lisa said...

I have always my whole life had a deep connection with Mary Magdelene, didn’t know much about her at all just felt as though she guided me, I had deep love and respect for her. Since coming back to my catholic faith 4 years ago, one night I had a prompt out of nowhere that I should google the saint of the day on my birthday . Before the answer came I knew it was Mary Magdalene, I nearly fainted on the spot.
Thank you Mary Magdelene that I was born on your feast day and thank you that you have led me throughout my bad days in the past.
I love Jesus and I have always loved him and Our Lady. But only now I am understanding more about all these connections, I hope some day soon I will visit your chapel and place of rest.
St Mary Magdalene pray for us and forever guide me . Amen

anand sahaja said...

Thank you for this wonderful article. I have visited the grotto and seen her holy relics at st. baume. it was a most important spiritual life pilgrimage.

Do you have a name of the document or source where one can find the actual original of the 5th-6th century anonymous document about the Magdalene?

thank you again.

Glenn Dallaire said...

Hello anand sahaja,
I personally don't have that info---sorry!

Lyn Holley Doucet said...

I am so happy that you love Mary Magdalene. I so wish you knew that she was never a prostitute or a great sinner. There is no evidence of this in Scripture at all. This unfortunate mistruth was perpetuated by Pope Gregory who conflated her with other women in the Bible. The result was her demeaning and being pushed to the side. Thank you. Lyn Doucet

Unknown said...


Anonymous said...

I did not know any of the stories of Maria Magdalena, It is one of the most profound stories I have ever read about early Jewish-Christian saints. Thanks.