St. Mary Magdalene Commemoration Raised to Feast Day
Pope Francis has raised the celebration of the memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to the dignity of a liturgical Feast, the same grade of feast given to the celebration of the Apostles.
Until now, St. Mary Magdalene has been a memorial; the status of a feast is higher than a memorial, but below a solemnity which is the highest rank in the liturgical calendar of the Roman Rite, celebrating a mystery of faith such as the Holy Trinity or Corpus Christi.
All the celebrations of the apostles are feast days, as are those of some other major saints such as St. Lawrence.
In a statement, the Vatican said:
Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, today issued a decree by which, in accordance with the will of the Holy Father, it is established that the liturgical memory of St. Mary Magdalene, celebrated on 22 July, will be elevated to the level of a feast day. In the Mass and in the Divine Office to be celebrated on that date from now on, the usual texts in the Roman Missal and the Liturgy of the Hours will be used, but the Mass will also include a specific Preface entitled "de apostolorum apostola" (Apostle of the apostles") ... The bishops, upon approval by the Holy See, will make this accessible in the various vernacular languages.
Vatican Radio gave more details:
“The decree was signed on 3 June 2016, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart. In a letter announcing the change, the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Archbishop Arthur Roche, writes the decision means one ‘should reflect more deeply on the dignity of women, the New Evangelization, and the greatness of the mystery of Divine Mercy.’"
It goes on to say that Archbishop Roche drew attention to the fact Mary Magdalene was the first witness to the Resurrection, and is the one who announced the event to the Apostles.
“Saint Mary Magdalene is an example of true and authentic evangelization; she is an evangelist who announces the joyful central message of Easter,” he writes.
“The Holy Father Francis took this decision precisely in the context of the Jubilee of Mercy to signify the importance of this woman who showed a great love for Christ and was much loved by Christ,” writes Archbishop Roche.
Saint Mary Magdalene was referred to as the "Apostle of the Apostles" (Apostolorum Apostola) by St. Thomas Aquinas, since she announced to them the Resurrection, and they, in turn, announced it to the whole world.
Archbishop Roche added: “Therefore it is right that the liturgical celebration of this woman has the same grade of feast given to the celebration of the apostles in the General Roman Calendar, and shines a light on the special mission of this woman, who is an example and model for every woman in the Church.”
Aleteia have published a full translation of Archbishop Roche's letter on "Apostolurm Apostola" here.
- feast days
- congregation for divine worship and the discipline of the sacraments
- st. mary magdalen