Our Parish Patron

Mary Magdalene, whom our English ancestors called “Mawdleyn”, probably received her name from Magdala, a place on the western shore of the sea of Galilee near to Tiberias. Our Lord first met her when on His Galilean ministry. St. Luke records that she was a sinner, and evidently a notorious sinner (though he says nothing to suggest that she was a public harlot, as is commonly supposed), and goes on to describe how, Christ having accepted an invitation to dine with a Pharisee she came into the house while they were at table, fell weeping before Jesus and, having wiped His feet with her own hair, anointed them with ointment from an alabaster box.

The Pharisee murmured at what seemed to him the unbecoming acquiescence of a prophet in the presence of a great sinner and Jesus, knowing his thoughts, rebuked him; first by asking which of two released debtors, a great and a small, had the more cause to be grateful to their creditor and then directly. “You see this women? I came to your home and you provided me with no water for my feet. She has washed my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since I entered. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with perfume. I tell you, that is why her many sins are forgiven, because of her great love. Little is forgiven the one whose love is small.

In his very next chapter St. Luke, in speaking of the missionary travels of our Lord in Galilee, tells us that He and His apostles were accompanied and ministered to by certain women, among them (by name) Mary Magdalene, “out of whom seven devils had gone forth”.

Mary Magdalene is remembered at least as well for other things. In the darkest hour of our Lord’s life she stood at some distance, watching Him on the cross and with “the other Mary” she saw the great stone rolled before the door of the tomb wherein lay the body of the Lord. But the crowning mercy of the life of Mary Magdalene was yet to come for it was she who, bearing sweet spices and weeping by the sepulchre early on the first day of the week, was the first to see, to be greeted by, and to recognize, the risen Christ. She, the contemplative, was the first witness to that resurrection without which our faith and our preaching are alike vain. It was to the abused flesh of the penitent that the radiant and glorified body of the Son of God was first made manifest.
According to Eastern tradition, Mary Magdalene, after Pentecost, accompanied our Lady and St. John to Ephesus where she died and was buried. The last thirty years of her life, it is claimed, she spent in a cavern of a rock, La Sainte Baume, high up among the Maritime Alps, to be transported miraculously, just before she died, to the chapel of St. Maximum. She received the last sacraments from and was buried by that Saint.

Feast Day July 22

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