One of the great women saints is St. Mary Magdalene (feast day: July 22nd). There is a good deal of confusion about her, and a good deal that we definitely know about her.
First, what we know for certain about this great saint: she was from the town of Magdala, on the Sea of Galilee (in the northern part of the Holy Land). Our Lord Jesus freed her from possession by seven demons, and she became His disciple. She was one of the holy women who followed the Lord and helped provide for His needs. When most of His disciples fled — including all of the apostles except John — she remained faithful, standing at the foot of the Cross with St. John and the Blessed Mother. And she was the first witness to Our Blessed Lord’s Resurrection, taking the news to the apostles who were in hiding. For this reason, the Eastern Church has given her the special title of “Apostle to the Apostles,” and she is honored with a Feast day by the Roman Catholic Church.
St. Mary Magdalene Icon
But, as I said, there is also some confusion relating to St. Mary Magdalene: some writers think that she was the woman caught in adultery, or the sinful woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears. Even some of the Church Fathers thought that she might be the same as the woman who washed the Lord’s feet with her tears — but others did not. In neither of those stories, in which the Lord Jesus forgave a sinful woman, does it indicate that He also cast out demons from her, and this leads me to believe that Mary Magdalene was NOT either of those women. [We can be pretty sure that Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, was the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears. See Luke 7 and John 11.] The long and short of it is that some people have probably conflated several different “holy women” into one woman. I personally hope to meet each of them, and their stories, in heaven!
There is a tradition (small “t”) that St. Mary Magdalene went to southern Gaul (present day France) to proclaim the Gospel there at some point after the Resurrection.
The main thing that we should remember with Mary Magdalene is that, once she was set free by the Lord Jesus, she gave herself, whole and entire, to the service of the Lord. She remained faithful through the most horrific event in world history — the death of the Son of God in the flesh — and she was the first to proclaim the truth of the Lord’s Resurrection. In this time of confusion and turmoil, St. Mary Magdalene is a great example of holding firm to Christ Jesus, and never letter go!
JENNIE M HACK says
Hi Father Cameron!
Good to hear from you.
St Mary Magdalene is a good example for us now and especially in the times to come.
I’m praying for strength and courage for my family.