Deacon's Corner | St. Mary Magdalene: July 22

“Apostle to the Apostles”

St. Mary MagdaleneMary Magdalene was one of the original Galilean disciples of Jesus and one of the many women who followed him in his itinerant ministry. Little can be said of her origins; she is characterized simply as a “woman from whom seven demons had gone out.”  There is no scriptural basis for the later tradition that depicted her as a penitent prostitute. All four gospels name her among the women who followed Jesus to Golgotha and witnessed his passion and death. 

She could well be the patron of the slandered, since there has been a persistent legend in the Church that she is the unnamed sinful woman who anointed the feet of Jesus in Luke 7:36-50. 

Most Scripture scholars today point out that there is no scriptural basis for confusing the two women. 

One of the most distinctive features of Jesus’ movement was the presence of women among his intimate disciples. And yet the story and even identity of many of these women was left on the margins. It is all the more significant when women such as Mary of Bethany, her sister Martha, or Mary Magdalene are named. It is a sign of just how vital a place they still occupied in the church’s living memory. Mary Magdalene, in particular, was firmly associated with two vital facts: that she was a witness to the crucifixion and that she was the first witness of the Risen Lord.

In his Gospel, John provides a particularly poignant account, reflecting most clearly the relationship that evidently existed between Mary and Jesus. (Jn 20:11-18). Nothing else is known of Mary of Magdala. Her deeds are not reported in the Acts of the Apostles, nor does she figure in the writings of Paul. But the name of Mary Magdalene deserves special honor, particularly at a time when women are struggling to be heard in the church and society. It was she, the faithful disciple, who first proclaimed the good news to the Twelve. Thus she has often been called the “Apostle to the Apostles.”  

It is an ancient tradition in Provence, France, that Mary Magdalene or Mary the sister of Lazarus, together with Lazarus, Martha, and some other disciples of our Lord, being expelled by the Jews, put to sea and landed at Marseilles; and that Lazarus became the first bishop of that diocese. 

In 2016 Pope Francis elevated her memorial to a feast day on the Roman calendar, giving her the same level of celebration as the male apostles. 

Source: All Saints by Robert Ellsberg


“God, it was to Mary Magdalene before all others that Your Son committed the message of Easter joy. Through her intercession may we one day contemplate Him reigning in glory. Amen.”


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