|"Penitent Magdalene" - Caravaggio|
MARY MAGDALENEYesterday was the feast of Mary Magdalene. There is no evidence in any of the four Gospels that Mary was a harlot.
Mary, Mary, Jesus healed you.
Full of thanks, you followed him,
Stayed with him until the end,
Mourned your Savior at the cross.
To the tomb you went on Sunday,
Your Lord's body to anoint.
When you found no body there,
By the grave you stood and wept.
"Mary, Mary, why the weeping?"
"Sir, where did they lay my Lord?"
"Ah Mary, do not hold me.
"Go now and tell the others
That I live, as they will see."
And you went, and you told them,
"I have seen my Lord. He lives."
June Butler 7-23-12
The whole story of Mary as a prostitute, who is fallen and redeemed, is a very powerful image of redemption a signal that no matter how low one has fallen, one can be redeemed.Indeed! Although Caravaggio's painting of the penitent Mary contradicts the information above, I chose it because I love his art.
Powerful as this image may be, it is not the story of Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene is mentioned in each of the four gospels in the New Testament, but not once does it mention that she was a prostitute or a sinner. At some point Mary Magdalene became confused with two other women in the Bible: Mary, the sister of Martha, and the unnamed sinner from Luke's gospel (7:36-50) both of whom wash Jesus' feet with their hair. In the 6th Century, Pope Gregory the Great made this assumption official by declaring in a sermon that these three characters were actually the same person: Mary Magdalene, repentant saint. The Catholic Church did later declare that Mary Magdalene was not the penitent sinner, but this was not until 1969. After so long the reputation still lingers.
Image from Wikipedia.