First Apostle of the Resurrection!

Mary Magdalene Announces the Resurrection to the Apostles:
image by Sr. Mary Charles; Image below is from Monastery Icons (click on images for larger versions)

Today, July 22, is the Memorial of Saint Mary Magdalene.

The Saint of the Day connection in the links section on the sidebar will give you a brief overview of this feast on the liturgical calendar.

Because Mary is the name of several significant women in the gospel accounts of Jesus' life, there has been some confusion around just who Mary of Magdala was - and wasn't! For an interesting summary of these questions - and a resolution to the dispute - take a look at this article from Catholic News Service.

The icon above depicts Mary Magdalene announcing the Resurrection of Jesus to the apostles who were huddled in fear following the crucifixion. Mary Magdalene was the first to meet the Risen Jesus and the first to announce this joyful news to others. She is sometimes called the First Apostle of the Resurrection.

The vial in Mary's hand may be for the spices she brought to Jesus' tomb to anoint his body; and in her other hand - a red egg! The story was told that Mary went to Rome to preach the Risen Christ to Tiberius Caesar. During her audience she held up an egg to explain the Resurrection. Caesar laughed, telling her that one had as much chance of resurrection as the egg in her hand turning red. Whereupon, the egg turned red! Some credit this story as the source for why eggs are colored at Easter.

your Son first entrusted to Mary Magdalene
the joyful news of his resurrection.
By her prayers and example
may we proclaim Christ as our living Lord
and one day see him in glory,
for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
(Opening Prayer for the Memorial of Mary Magdalene)



  1. Her life is a wonderful illustration of Christ's forgiveness and of the new life he gives to sinners who repent. Wasn't Mary Magdalene the woman who wiped His feet with her hair and anointed them with costly oils? At the same time she was an "Apostle," she was a teacher (though never a priest).

    Thanks for posting this.

  2. Anonymous: I think you may have read the post too quickly. Check the links in the post to get at the question of the identity of Mary Magdalene.

    And in poining out that she wasn't a priest, you are, of course, entirely correct. I might add that she was also not a plumber, opera singer or presumptive presidential candidate.

    Being an apostle was enough, evidently, for Mary Magdalene!

  3. This was written by Sister Joan Chittister. It may be too long for the combox...ok to edit or not post it. Anne
    Friendship is the linking of spirits. It is a spiritual act, not a social one. It is the finding of the remainder of the self. It is knowing a person before you meet her. It might be that we not so much find a friend but that friendship, the deathless search of the soul for itself, finds us. Then the memory of Mary Magdalene becomes clear, becomes the bellwether of the real relationship.
    Feastday of Mary Magdalene, July 22
    Mary Magdalene is the woman whom scripture calls by name in a time when women were seldom named in public documents at all. She is, in fact, named fourteen times—more than any other woman in the New Testament except Mary of Nazareth, the mother of Jesus. She is clearly very important, and apparently a wealthy woman. Most of all, she understood who Jesus was long before anyone else did and she supported him in his wild, free-ranging revolutionary approach to life and state and temple. She was, it seems, the leader of a group of women who “supported Jesus out of their own resources.” And she never left his side for the rest of his life.
    She was there at the beginning of his ministry. And she was there at the end. She was there when they were following him in cheering throngs. And she was there when they were taking his entire life, dashing it against the stones of temple and state, turning on him, jeering at him, shouting for his death, standing by while soldiers poked and prodded him to ignominy. She tended his grave and shouted his dying glory and clung to his soul. She knew him and she did not flinch from the knowing.
    The Magdalene factor in friendship is the ability to know everything there is to know about a person, to celebrate their fortunes, to weather their straits, to chance their enemies, to accompany them in their pain and to be faithful to the end, whatever its glory, whatever its grief. The Magdalene factor is intimacy, the unshakeable immersion in the life of the other to the point of ecstasy, to the depths of hell.
    The Magdalene factor in friendship is what distinguishes those who walk with us through the shallows of life from those who take the soundings of our soul and follow us into the depths of them.

  4. Wow!! What an abundance of riches we have here today. Honestly, On this her feast day, I might never have spent anytime comtemplating who Mary of Magdalea was, or who she was not, unless I had come here. The CNS story and the Joan Chittister reflection provide wonderful insights. Thank you all for some grace filled moments... AND having been in active service to the church for 24 years I had NEVER heard the story of the red egg!
    What a wonderful thing cyberspace can be!!

  5. Actually, CP, the story of the anointing of the feet was part of the homily I heard this morning on MM's feast day; apparently I was misinformed! As for being a priest, the other Apostles were, so it made sense to me to mention that an Apostle to the Apostles wasn't -- she was a woman and teacher instead.

  6. I am glad that after centuries some of the misconceptions that have been perpetuated about Mary Magdalene are finally being put to rest. I am struck by how much she loved Jesus....how drawn to him and his teachings she was....how generous and fearless she seemed to be. What a wonderful role model she is for all women and particularly for those who need her example of courage to sustain them with difficult tasks in trying times.

  7. I have always wondered about this part of John's gospel:

    "Near the cross of Jesus there stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. Seeing his mother there with the disciple whom he loved, Jesus said to his mother, "Woman, there is your son." In turn he said to the disciple, "There is your mother." From that hour onward, the disciple took her into his care."

    Who is the disciple? To me, it sounds like Mary Magdalene must be the disciple Jesus is addressing and they've conveniently changed the pronoun. Could it be? Perhaps there were women disciples (or at least one) but the gospel writers couldn't bring themselves to record this fact. (And thus we aren't allowed to let women be priests.)

  8. Anonymous (last in the list above):

    Two facts argue against your theory of a conspiracy to disguise Mary Magdalene's identity here.

    First, the term "the disciple Jesus loved" is used several times in the scriptures where it clearly refers to the apostle John.

    Second, in the four gospels Mary Magdalene is mentioned by name fourteen times. In eight passages, her name heads the list. In one, her name follows the name of Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the other Mary. In five passages her name appears alone. The only woman whose name appears more times than that of Mary Magdalene is Mary, mother of Jesus.

    The prominence of Mary M's name does not support the suggestion that she was being left out or hidden.

    Indeed, there were many female disciples (not "at least one") and the scriptures clearly identify and record this reality.


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