An ancient tradition identifies Mary Magdalene with Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, who had wasted the great beauty that God had given her in a life of sin, but one day saw Christ and was touched by grace. On the day of our Lord’s crucifixion, she stood with the Mother of Jesus at the foot of the cross. At early dawn on the first Easter morning, Mary Magdalene and other women who had ministered to Jesus went to the Lord’s sepulcher. Two angels said to them, “He is not here, but is risen….Go, tell his disciples.” Mary Magdalene ran to tell the Apostles what she had seen and heard. Then Peter and John, hastening to the sepulcher, saw and believed.
The feast of St. Mary Magdalene is considered one of the most mystical of feasts, and it is said that of all the songs of the saints, that of Mary Magdalene is the sweetest and strongest because her love was so great. That love was praised by Jesus Himself who said that because much was forgiven her, she loved much. Where she is buried, no one knows. Legend has her dying in Provence, France, in a cavern where she spent her last days, and her body resting in the chapel of St. Maximin in the Maritime Alps. Another has her buried in Ephesus where she went with St. John after the Resurrection. This latter view is more likely, and St. Willibald, the English pilgrim to the Holy Land in the eighth century, was shown her tomb there.
She was the first witness to the resurrection of Jesus, His most ardent and loving follower. She had stood with Mary at the foot of the Cross on that brutal Good Friday afternoon and had been by the side of Mary during these difficult hours. On Easter morning, she went with the other women to the tomb and it was there, in the garden near the tomb, that Jesus appeared to her. It was she who brought the news of the Resurrection to the Apostles, and Peter and John raced to the tomb to see what had happened.
She was from Magadala, a small fishing town on the Sea of Galilee, between Capernaum and Tiberias. She was known to be a “great sinner,” a woman of the streets who heard Jesus speak of the mercy and forgiveness of God and changed her life completely. Her matter-of-fact witness to the Resurrection moved Peter and John to go and see for themselves: “I have seen the Lord and these things he said to me.” Jesus had chosen her to bring the news to them and she simply told them what had happened.
She has always been the example of great love and great forgiveness, one of those close to Jesus who grasped the truth of God’s love for human beings and spent her life bearing witness to that love.
(Excerpted from The One Year Book of Saints by Rev. Clifford Stevens)
What can we learn from Mary Magdalene? St. Gregory the Great tells us: “We should reflect on Mary’s attitude and the great love she felt for Christ, for though the disciples had left the tomb, she remained. She was still seeking the one she had not found, and while she sought she wept. Burning with the fire of love, she longed for him who she thought had been taken away. And so it happened that the woman who stayed behind to seek Christ was the only one to see him. For perseverance is essential to any good deed, as the Voice of truth tells us: ‘Whoever perseveres to the end will be saved.’”
Patron: Apothecaries; Casamicciola, Italy; contemplative life; contemplatives; converts; druggists; glove makers; hairdressers; hairstylists; penitent sinners; penitent women; people ridiculed for their piety; perfumeries; perfumers; pharmacists; reformed prostitutes; sexual temptation; tanners; women.
Symbols: Rich raiment; box of ointment; skull; book; vase of sweet spices; crucifix; open book; boat.
Below are some prayers to ask for the intercession of St. Mary Magdalene. Let us pray for perseverance in our Catholic Faith until death.
Prayers to St. Mary Magdalene
Litany of St. Mary Magdalene
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.
Saint Mary Magdalene, pray for us.
Sister of Martha and Lazarus, pray for us.
Who didst enter the Pharisee’s house to anoint the feet of Jesus, pray for us.
Who didst wash His feet with thy tears, pray for us.
Who didst dry them with thy hair, pray for us.
Who didst cover them with kisses, pray for us.
Who wast vindicated by Jesus before the proud Pharisee, pray for us.
Who from Jesus received the pardon of thy sins, pray for us.
Who before darkness wast restored to light, pray for us.
Mirror of penance, pray for us.
Disciple of Our Lord, pray for us.
Wounded with the love of Christ, pray for us.
Most dear to the Heart of Jesus, pray for us.
Constant woman, pray for us.
Thou who didst keep watch beneath the cross, pray for us.
Thou who wast the first to see Jesus risen, pray for us.
Whose forehead was sanctified by the touch of thy risen Master, pray for us.
Apostle of the apostles, pray for us.
Who didst choose the “better part,” pray for us.
Who lived for many years in solitude being miraculously fed, pray for us.
Who wast visited by angels seven times a day, pray for us.
Sweet advocate of sinners, pray for us.
Spouse of the King of Glory, pray for us.
V. Saint Mary Magdalene, earnestly intercede for us with thy Divine Master,
R. That we may share thy happiness in heaven.
Let us pray. May the glorious merits of blessed Mary Magdalene, we beseech Thee, O Lord, make our offerings acceptable to Thee, for Thine only-begotten Son vouchsafed graciously to accept the humble service she rendered. Who livest and reignest with Thee and the Holy Ghost, God for ever and ever. Amen.
May the prayers of blessed Mary Magdalene help us, O Lord, for it was in answer to them that Thou didst call her brother Lazarus, four days after death, back from the grave to life. Who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, Unity in Trinity, world without end. Amen.
Traditional Antiphon for St. Mary Magdalene’s Feast Day
O lamp of the world and gleaming pearl, who by announcing Christ’s resurrection merited to become the “Apostle of the Apostles,” Mary Magdalene, be ever our loving advocate with God who has chosen you.
Traditional Prayer for St. Mary Magdalene’s Feast Day
Grant to us, most merciful Father, that as the blessed Mary Magdalene, by loving Our Lord Jesus Christ above all things, won the forgiveness of her sins, so may she obtain for us, through Your mercy, everlasting happiness. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.