Saint Mary Magdalene wood carved statue - color View larger

Saint Mary Magdalene wood carved statue - color

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Saint Mary Magdalene with an ointment jar Apostle of the Apostles, figure of a saint carved in wood.

In the liturgy, the Latin Church was accustomed to unite the three distinct women mentioned in the Gospel and commemorated separately in the Greek liturgy: Mary of Bethany, sister of Lazarus and Martha, the sinner "for whom much has been forgiven because she loved much", and Mary Magdalene or Magdala, the ossified woman miraculously cured by Jesus, whom she followed and assisted with the other women until the crucifixion and had the privilege of seeing resurrected. The identification of the three women was facilitated by the name Mary common to at least two of them and by the judgment of St. Gregory the Great, who saw one and the same woman mentioned in all the Gospel passages. The editors of the new calendar, reconfirming the memory of a single Mary Magdalene without any other indication, such as the adjective "penitent", intended to celebrate the holy woman to whom Jesus appeared after the Resurrection. This is the Magdalene whom the Church commemorates today and who, according to an ancient Greek tradition, went to live in Ephesus, where she died. John, the beloved apostle, and Mary, Mother of Jesus, had also taken up residence in this city. Pope Francis has elevated her memory to the rank of Feast.

Patronage: Repentant prostitutes, Penitents, Hairdressers

Etymology: Mary = loved by God, from Egyptian; lady, from Hebrew

Emblem: Ampulla of ointment

Recurrence: July 22

Memory of St. Mary Magdalene, who, freed by the Lord from seven demons, became his disciple, following him to Mount Calvary, and on Easter morning deserved to be the first to see the Savior risen from the dead and bring the announcement of the resurrection to the other disciples.

Thomas Aquinas gave the title "Apostle of the Apostles" to Mary Magdalene, whose name comes from Magdala, the fishing village where she was born, on the western shore of Lake Tiberias. The evangelist Luke speaks of her in chapter 8: Jesus went about the towns and villages proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God, and with him were the Twelve and a number of women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities and were serving them with their goods. Among them was "Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had come out."

Misunderstandings about her identity: she was not a prostitute
As biblical exegesis teaches, the expression "seven demons" could indicate a very serious physical or moral evil that had struck the woman and from which Jesus had freed her. But the tradition, which has endured to this day, has made Mary Magdalene a prostitute, and this only because in the previous chapter 7 of Luke's Gospel, the story is told of the conversion of an anonymous "sinner known in that city", who had sprinkled perfumed oil on the feet of Jesus, a guest in the house of a Pharisee, wet them with her tears and dried them with her hair". Thus, without any real textual connection, Mary of Magdala has been identified with that unnamed prostitute. But there is a further misunderstanding, explains Cardinal Ravasi, the anointing with perfumed oil is a gesture that was also performed by Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, on a different occasion, reported by the evangelist John. And so, Mary of Magdala by some popular traditions will be identified precisely with this Mary of Bethany, after being confused with the prostitute of Galilee.

Under the cross
Mary Magdalene appears again in the Gospels in the most terrible and dramatic moment of Jesus' life, when she accompanies him to Calvary and together with other women remains to observe him from afar. She is also present when Joseph of Arimathea places the body of Jesus in the tomb, which is closed with a stone. And it is she who after the Sabbath, on the morning of the first day of the week, returns to the tomb and discovers that the stone has been removed and runs to warn Peter and John, who, in turn, will run to the tomb to discover the absence of the Lord's body.

The encounter with the Risen Lord
While the two disciples return home, Mary Magdalene remains, in tears. Here begins a journey that from unbelief progressively opens up to faith. Stooping to the tomb, she sees two angels and tells them that she does not know where the Lord's body has been placed. Then, looking back, she sees Jesus but does not recognize him, she thinks he is the custodian of the garden and when he asks her the reason for those tears and who she is looking for, she replies: "Lord, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have placed him and I will go and get him". Jesus then calls her by name, "Mary!" And she turns around and replies, "Rabbuni!" which in Hebrew means, "Master!" Jesus then gave her a mission: "Do not hold me back, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, my God and your God. Mary of Magdala then went to announce to the disciples: "I have seen the Lord! and also what he had said to her" (Cfr. Jn. 20).

It is she who proclaims Jesus as the One who has conquered death
Mary Magdalene is the first of the women following Jesus to proclaim him as the One who has conquered death, the first apostle to proclaim the joyful central message of Easter. When the Son of God entered history, this woman was among those who loved him the most and demonstrated it. When the time came for Calvary, Mary Magdalene was, together with Mary Most Holy and Saint John, beneath the Cross. She did not flee out of fear as the disciples did, she did not deny him out of fear as the first Pope did, but remained present every hour, from the moment of her conversion, to the Holy Sepulchre.

The Feast of Mary Magdalene
By the will of Pope Francis, the obligatory memory of Mary Magdalene, was elevated to the status of a Feast Day, on July 22, 2016, to signify the relevance of this faithful disciple of Christ.