22 July: St. Mary Magdalene’s feast day

 

-Guercino_-_maddalena
Guercino – 1632

Mary Magdalene was the Jewish woman who, according to texts included in the New Testament, travelled with Jesus as one of his followers. When all the men abandoned him , Mary of Magdala was one of the women who remained.

She was present at the Crucifixion, and at the tomb, and she was the first person to whom Jesus appeared after his resurrection and the first to preach the “Good News” of that miracle.

In the Gospels she is named at least 12 times, more than most of the apostles.

During the Middle Ages, Mary Magdalene was regarded in Western Christianity as a repentant prostitute and a promiscuous woman, but these claims are not supported by the four canonical gospels. That false notion dates back to a homily by Pope Gregory I (“Gregory the Great”), in around 591:
She whom Luke calls the sinful woman, whom John calls Mary, we believe to be the Mary from whom seven devils were ejected according to Mark. And what did these seven devils signify, if not all the vices?”
However the Second Vatican Council removed the prostitute label in 1969, stating there were more than one Mary and that Mary Magdalene and the unnamed sinner were two different figures.
Nevertheless, that reputation still lingers and the identification of Saint Mary Magdalene as a repentant prostitute has been followed by many writers and artists.

 

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