St Mary Magdalene - who was she? - St Mary Magdalene

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St Mary Magdalene - who was she?


Mary Magdalene (also Mary Magdela, feast day 22nd July) , appears in the Gospels as the woman whom Jesus had healed of “seven devils”, and who then followed and ministered to him in Galilee (Luke 8:1-2). She was present at his crucifixion, and with two others she went to the tomb and found it empty. Mark Chapter 9 states that it was to her that the risen Christ first appeared, to which John (20:11-18) adds the moving account that the risen Lord gave her a message to deliver to the apostles.

Among other women mentioned in the gospels are the unnamed woman 'who was a sinner' (Luke vii, 37-50), and Mary of Bethany, Martha's sister (Luke x, 38-42). These are not further identified, and in Eastern tradition they and the Magdalen are usually treated as three different persons. But the West, following Gregory the Great, regards them as one and the same, though weighty voices from Ambrose onwards have preferred to leave the question undecided. This Western tradition has resulted in St Mary Magdalene being considered as an outstanding type of the penitent and the contemplative. The Eastern tradition is the more probable. Medieval veneration for her memory was intense, and legends became attached to her name, as that she had been betrothed to St John the Evangelist, or even Christ himself. Her emblem is an ointment jar.

 
 
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