The Life of Mary Magdalene
No discussion of the subject would be complete without at least a cursory
look at what Catholic Online Saints and Angels and The New Advent Catholic
Encyclopedia have to say:
Online Saints and Angels has the following entry under Mary Magdalene: The
She is called "the Penitent". St. Mary was given the name 'Magdalen'
because, though a Jewish girl, she lived in a Gentile town called Magdale, in
northern Galilee, and her culture and manners were those of a Gentile. St.
Luke records that she was a notorious sinner, and had seven devils removed
from her. She was present at Our Lords' Crucifixion, and with Joanna and Mary,
the mother of James and Salome, at Jesus' empty tomb. Fourteen years after Our
Lord's death, St. Mary was put in a boat by the Jews without sails or oars -
along with Sts. Lazarus and Martha, St. Maximin (who baptized her), St.
Sidonius ("the man born blind"), her maid Sera, and the body of St. Anne, the
mother of the Blessed Virgin. They were sent drifting out to sea and landed on
the shores of Southern France, where St. Mary spent the rest of her life as a
contemplative in a cave known as Sainte-Baume. She was given the Holy
Eucharist daily by angels as her only food, and died when she was 72. St. Mary
was transported miraculously, just before she died, to the chapel of St.
Maximin, where she received the last sacraments.
More about this saint: St. Mary Magdalen (Feast day - July 22) Mary
Magdalen was well known as a sinner when she first saw Our Lord. She was very
beautiful and very proud, but after she met Jesus, she felt great sorrow for
her evil life. When Jesus went to supper at the home of a rich man named
Simon, Mary came to weep at His feet. Then with her long beautiful hair, she
wiped His feet dry and anointed them with expensive perfume. Some people were
surprised that Jesus let such a sinner touch Him, but Our Lord could see into
Mary's heart, and He said: "Many sins are forgiven her, because she has loved
very much." Then to Mary He said kindly, "Your faith has made you safe; go in
peace." From then on, with the other holy women, Mary humbly served Jesus and
His Apostles. When Our Lord was crucified, she was there at the foot of His
cross, unafraid for herself, and thinking only of His sufferings. No wonder
Jesus said of her: "She has loved much." After Jesus' body had been placed in
the tomb, Mary went to anoint it with spices early Easter Sunday morning. Not
finding the Sacred Body, she began to weep, and seeing someone whom she
thought was the gardener, she asked him if he knew where the Body of her
beloved Master had been taken. But then the person spoke in a voice she knew
so well: "Mary!" It was Jesus, risen from the dead! He had chosen to show
Himself first to Mary Magdalen, the repentent sinner.
The Catholic Encyclopedia while a bit non-committal about how Mary Magdalene
spent her life after the Ascension of the Risen Christ, does have a discussion
about the scriptural references to the Mary's of the New Testament, including
the fact that some say the three different incidents recorded are three
different women, and that some fuse all three into one person and still others
believe that there were two different Mary's. The three Mary's are Mary
the sinner who is referenced in Luke 7:36-50, Mary the sister of Martha and
Lazarus, referenced in Luke 10:38-42 and John 11, and Mary Magdalene. Below is
an excerpt from their entry on Mary Magdalene. To read the entire entry click on
the link at the end of the passage.
Subsequent history of St. Mary Magdalen. The
maintains that the saint retired to
Ephesus with the Blessed Virgin and
there died, that her
relics were transferred to
Constantinople in 886
and are there preserved.
Gregory of Tours (De miraculis, I, xxx) supports the statement that
she went to Ephesus.
However, according to a
French tradition (see
SAINT LAZARUS OF BETHANY), Mary,
Lazarus, and some
companions came to
converted the whole of Provence. Magdalen is said to have retired to a
hill, La Sainte-Baume, near by, where she gave herself up to a life of penance for thirty
years. When the time of her death arrived she was carried by
Aix and into the
oratory of St.
Maximinus, where she received the
viaticum; her body
was then laid in an
by St. Maximinus at Villa Lata, afterwards called St. Maximin.
History is silent
about these relics
till 745, when according to the chronicler
Sigebert, they were
removed to Vézelay through fear of the
Saracens. No record
is preserved of their return, but in 1279, when Charles II, King of
Naples, erected a
convent at La Sainte-Baume
for the Dominicans,
the shrine was found intact, with an inscription stating why they were hidden.
In 1600 the relics
were placed in a sarcophagus sent by
Clement VIII, the
head being placed in a separate vessel. In 1814 the church of La Sainte-Baume,
wrecked during the
Revolution, was restored, and in 1822 the grotto was consecrated afresh.
The head of the saint
now lies there, where it has lain so long, and where it has been the centre of
so many pilgrimages.
This entire passage excerpted from the
New Advent Catholic