Saint Mary Magdalene Saint Mary Magdalene Saint Mary Magdalene

Other Lives

the Mother of God

husband of Mary

fisherman and foundation

the disciple
whom Jesus loved

Text by Victor Hoagland, C.P.

Mary Magdalene in the Middle Ages

SpacerAccording to an 11th century French legend, Mary Magdelene was among a group of disciples sent by St. Peter to bring the word of God to faraway peoples. Her companions were Lazarus and Martha of Bethany, the two other Marys mentioned in the Gospels, and St. Maximin, one of Jesus' 72 disciples. Captured by unbelievers, they were thrown into a ship without rudder and set adrift at sea to drown. But God guided the ship to the port of Marseilles, France. There, Mary spoke of Christ to the people.

Spacer"All were amazed," says the Golden Legend, "not only because of her beauty but also her eloquence. Yet how could she not be eloquent since her lips had touched the Lord's feet?"

SpacerMary succeeded in bringing the ruler and the people of that land to the Christian faith, the legend continues. Churches, like Les Saintes Maries de la Mer (The Holy Marys of the Sea) were built to commemorate the coming of these apostles from Palestine.

SpacerMary is said to have always carried with her a vase containing the remainder of the nard with which she anointed Jesus - she is often pictured in art with it. see sculpture at right Legend says she spent the rest of her life in prayer at a spot which now bears the name of the relic she carried: La Sainte Baume - and that she was buried there. The church at Vezelay in Burgundy, claiming to have her relics, became a favorite pilgrimage place in the 11th century. Her name is popular everywhere in France and the rest of Europe.

Vistation of Mary Magdalene
Visitation - Mary Magdalene,
sculpture by Pedro de Mena,
c. 1660

Next: a Strong Influence on Art of the Middle Ages

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