St. Mary Magdalene — ‘I Have Seen the Lord’

St. Mary Magdalene is the patron saint of penitent sinners and contemplative life.

Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov (1806–1858), “Appearance of Christ to St. Mary Magdalene”
Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov (1806–1858), “Appearance of Christ to St. Mary Magdalene” (photo: Public Domain)

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. ―John 20:15–16

A group of women from the region of Galilee had melded together to travel with Jesus whenever possible to learn from him and help minister to his needs. It is from this group that Mary Magdalene, a woman who had previously been possessed by seven demons, emerged.

Most accounts of Mary Magdalene in the Bible take place during the Crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. After watching the ghastly horror of Jesus’ Crucifixion, Mary Magdalene and some of her Galilean women watched sadly as Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus secured Jesus’ dead body in a tomb. Because Jesus’ death occurred late on a Friday, the women had to wait until the end of the Sabbath to anoint Jesus’ body.

Mary Magdalene (again, most probably with some friends) went to Jesus’ tomb very early the morning after the Sabbath, hoping to take care of the anointing. As she entered the tomb, she was taken aback, for Jesus was gone! Amazingly, a few angels were at the tomb and announced to Mary that Jesus had risen. Overwhelmed and trembling, Mary Magdalene hurried off to tell Peter and the others.

Peter and John, although incredulous at Mary’s news, rushed to the tomb. They were also staggered to see it empty. The bewildered men returned to their homes, yet Mary remained at the tomb, weeping with uncontrollable grief. Jesus then appeared and asked Mary why she was crying. Confused and distraught, she did not immediately recognize Jesus until he called her by name. At that moment, Mary Magdalene clearly understood it was her Lord and joyfully reached to embrace him.

What happened to Mary Magdalene afterward is hard to verify. Some place her in Ephesus following Pentecost while other sources claim that Mary traveled to France and became a contemplative. Many believe that her remains have been kept in a monastery in the town of St. Maximin, France, for many centuries.

St. Mary Magdalene is the patron saint of penitent sinners and contemplative life; she can be found on the July 22 page of the Roman Martyrology.

 

A Novena of Days with St. Mary Magdalene

This woman, formerly possessed of seven demons, seems to call out to many. Her transformation is striking and her story gives abundant hope. If you would like to spend some special quiet time with this beloved saint from Galilee, carve out about 10-15 minutes each day for nine days: read about her in the Bible, copy down any verses that strike you, and ponder how you would react to her various situations. See if St. Mary Magdalene’s narratives inspire you to draw closer to God. And, ask her to pray for you during the nine days!

  • Day 1) Luke 8:1–3
  • Day 2) Matthew 27:55–56
  • Day 3) Matthew 28:1–10
  • Day 4) Mark 15:40–47
  • Day 5) Mark 16:1–11
  • Day 6) Luke 23:49–56
  • Day 7) Luke 24:1–12
  • Day 8) John 19:25
  • Day 9) John 20:11–18
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