Happy Feast of Mary Magdalene! In the rhythm of the Christian year, this is the day when we especially remember and celebrate the friend and disciple of Jesus who, along with other women, provided support for his ministry. For proclaiming the news of Christ’s resurrection, the Magdalene became known as the “Apostle to the Apostles.”
The Bible offers few details about her life—only Luke mentions her prior to her crucial role at Jesus’ death and resurrection. But having sparse information about her life leaves lots of room to spin some great stories. In the Middle Ages, a cycle of legends emerged that elaborated upon the Magdalene’s leadership in the early Christian movement. As a preacher chick, I’m particularly fond of the legend that involves Mary Magdalene moving to France and becoming a famous preacher; she is also said to have released prisoners from a French jail.
The legends tell, too, that Mary Magdalene spent the final years of her life as a hermit in the wilderness, clad only in her long hair. At the canonical hours, angels would come and swoop her up to heaven to share in the liturgy, then return her to the wilderness until they came to swoop her up again. The above image depicts that legend; titled Magdalene Ascending: The Divine Hours, it comes from the series The Hours of Mary Magdalene, which you can visit here (click on the images for enlarged views). Inspired by depictions of Mary Magdalene in medieval Books of Hours and in other artwork from the Middle Ages, the series draws from the legends of the Magdalene as well as biblical accounts that offer intriguing hints about her life.
Think of the images as greeting cards from me to you on this day. A blessed feast to you!