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The Mystery of Mary Magdalene: A Brief Exploration

Updated: Jul 25, 2023

In light of the feast day for Mary Magdalene which is July 22nd, I thought it would be the ideal time to explore a bit about the life and soul of this enigmatic woman shrouded in mystery, and gain a little understanding on her. This is a woman who has been known to be everything from a common prostitute to a venerated saint of the Orthodox Catholic Church. I believe it's crucial to recognize the misconceptions surrounding this powerful female figure, and give her the rightful honor and respect she deserves as a devoted follower of Jesus, and a significant spiritual figure in her own right. As a child I have always felt a profound connection to both The Virgin Mary, and Maria Magdalena. It was something ingrained in me because of my cultures and taught to me by my mother and grandmother. As I've grown in to the woman I am today, and having been met with life's challenges, I feel an even deeper connection to this overlooked, misunderstood, yet extraordinary woman. In the Bible, few women are as revered as Mary Magdalene, even though she could be seen as a symbol of the slandered, given the constant misinformation about her like the legend in the Church associating her with the "unnamed sinful woman" who anointed Jesus' feet in Luke 7:36-50.

There are various fallacies and intrigue surrounding "Mary of Magdala," an early follower of Jesus, who played a significant role in his life, witnessing his Crucifixion and being among the first to learn of his Resurrection. One of her most vital roles was being the bearer of the news of Jesus' Resurrection to the apostles, earning her the title "the Apostle to the Apostles."

While the Bible offers no indication of her being Jesus's partner or wife, it does emphasize her central role as a devoted disciple. Mary Magdalene stood by Him during both his darkest, and most glorious hours. Throughout history, various narratives emerged about this figure, with some early church leaders downplaying her significance by labeling her as a repentant prostitute. In reality however, evidence suggests that she was honored and esteemed by early Christians. Traditional misconceptions stemmed from confusing Mary Magdalene with other biblical figures, leading to false associations with prostitution. No credible evidence supports the notion of her being a prostitute, and it is now widely believed that Mary Magdalene was not the sinful woman mentioned in the scriptures. Even though this false information has persisted for centuries, modern exegesis (interpretation of scriptures) clarifies her true identity, challenging the historical claims of her being a "sinner."

Unraveling the truth about this obscured woman continues to captivate scholars and believers alike.

There are many questions we can ask. One being, what was Mary Magdalene's personality like?

She has been portrayed in various ways, from an outspoken, passionate woman to a victim of unjust judgment. She could have been a woman of spirit and fire, possibly having a close relationship with Jesus. Maybe she was not only the lover but also the best friend of Jesus. However, one question arises: was marriage even a possibility for them? Throughout history, some of the most profound romances have blossomed between unwed couples who have faced challenging circumstances in life. Given the perilous reality of a woman like Mary Magdalene, who risked being stoned by her own people, it seems unlikely that she would openly invite her accusers to witness her wedding. Thus, the idea of a secret marriage between her and Jesus is something we could believably contemplate.

Considering these aspects of her life, it's highly likely that Mary Magdalene embodied a woman of incredible spirit and passion. She must have possessed a fiery soul, a profound sense of purpose, and a love that Jesus deeply admired. Their connection might have transcended the conventional norms of their time, cultivating a bond that outweighed the boundaries of tradition and societal expectations. When we consider all these facets of Mary Magdalene's life and personality, it becomes evident that she could have been a significant figure in Jesus' life—one he cherished and loved greatly. The mysteries surrounding their relationship only add to the allure of their connection, making Mary Magdalene a figure of enduring fascination and admiration throughout history.

Another question we might ask could be, why was Mary Magdalen labeled a "sinner"? Was "original sin" a political concept that the Church used to demonize The Goddess and the Sacred Feminine? According to Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code, the Holy Grail symbolizes the sacred feminine and the goddess, which the Church allegedly suppressed to protect its dominance (this is a whole other topic for another day). The concept of "original sin," attributed to Eve, who ate the apple and started the downfall of "man" was an unfair notion created by man, not God, to diminish the power of life-givers, and vilifying women and instigating others to see them as the enemy. This is more reason why we need to rectify this centuries-old case of mistaken identity when it comes to Mary Magdalene.

Another question to ask might be, was the "Book of Mary" Mary Magdalene's lost gospel?

The Book of Mary was discovered in Egypt and is part of the "Lost Gospels." These “Lost Gospels” include the gospel of Mary Magdalene, and it includes 5 books that apparently did not make it through the editing process of the Bible. To quote The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle written by Karen L. King, “The story of the ‘Gospel of Mary’ is a simple one. Since the first six pages are lost, the gospel opens in the middle of a scene portraying a discussion between the Savior and his disciples set after the resurrection. The Savior is answering their questions about the end of the material world and the nature of sin. He teaches them that at present all things, whether material or spiritual, are interwoven with each other. In the end, that will not be so. Each nature will return to its own root, its own original state and destiny.” It also explores spiritual concepts, reminiscent of the Celtic belief in interconnectedness and fate represented in their knot-work art.

One more question we might ask is, what is the "Black Madonna" or "Black Virgin," and what does it mean in regards to Mary Magdalene?

During my travels in South France, I observed various statues of different Mary's as well as different black patron saints. This "Black Madonna" refers to statues, often black in color, found in southern France. Some believe that these statues symbolize the dark aspect of the soul seeking enlightenment through devotion to Christian saints. Some suggest they represent the Goddess, including Mary Magdalene as a demonized goddess figure. There are many questions and various theories when it comes to the topic of Mary Magdalene. I could go on for hours delving into this complicated and misrepresented human being.

Ultimately Mary Magdalene reminds us that we can all possess great dignity, no matter how we are judged from outside perspectives. Her story challenges ideas about spirituality and the role of women in religion. Although we have more questions than answers when discussing her, one thing is for sure, her journey symbolizes the soul's path from grace to exile and back, making her a powerful archetype.

Recognizing her importance as a faithful disciple, Pope Francis exalted the memory of Mary Magdalene to The Feast day of Mary Magdalene on July 22, stressing her significance in Christian history.

One of the black statues in a crypt I visited in South France.



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