Shrine of St. Frideswide, Christ Church Cathedral Oxford.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Feast of St. Mary Magdalene... The Apostle of Apostles, July 22.

St. Mary Magdalene by El Greco.
St. Mary Magdalene is a peculiar figure in the New Testament, and yet was one of the most faithful disciple to Jesus. What is truly remarkable about Mary Magdalene is that although she was a sinner, she is the most important women in the bible following Mary the Blessed Virgin as one of the first human beings to see Christ after the Resurrection.

Mary Magdalene first appears as one of the many whom Jesus healed of an illness in Luke described as to have come from Galilee. The illness is described as seven demons which are really sins. And a sinner, she became very intimate with the  12 disciples and with Jesus and is present at the most important events that Christians now celebrate as Triduum. Since the Middle Ages she has been identified as one the prostitutes that was saved by Jesus and as the women who anointed the feet of Jesus at the Last supper with perfume, Mary of Bethany. She was present at the Crucifixion where she is often depicted as one of the mourning women beneath the cross. After the Crucifixion she is among those who brought ointment to bury Jesus after She, Mary the Mother, and Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus off the cross. For this reason she is often depicted holding a jar of perfume and is known to the Orthodox Churches as one of the Myrrhbearers the feast of whom is celebrated on the third Sunday after Easter. Finally Mary Magdalene is one of the first to meet Jesus after the Resurrection when she and Mary the Mother of James go revisit the tomb and find that the stone had been removed. Mary has been know as the "Apostle of Apostles" or the "first Apostle" because she was the first to speak with Jesus at the Resurrection when he told her "Go and tell the others that I am risen." And later "I is I who appeared to these women and who wanted to send them to you as apostles." Mary Magdalene is the first person to spread the good news of the resurrection of Christ.

After the Pentecost there is some controversy over what became of Mary Magdalene. The Orthodox Churches maintain that she retired with Mary the Mother of Jesus to Ephesus where she died and from which her relics were translated to Constantinople where they remain to this day.

The Western tradition holds that she came to a came to France with other Christians and worked as an apostle in what is now Provence. She then retired to a cave in "St. Baume" where she died.

The cave at St. Baume is still an important place of pilgrimage even though many know of the opposing stories. National Geographic recently cited the response of local of St. Baume when questioned on this, saying "There was a priest who lived here at the cave for many decades. He said that while it's impossible to know if Mary Magdalene truly came here in the first century, that certainly was of less importance. She's here now."

St. Mary Magdalene, as the first Apostle, is important to us today both because she is the first to proclaim the risen Christ and because she shows us how sinners and outcasts can be reconciled by the love of Christ.
The monastery at the cave of St. Baume, France.

Litany to 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.
Last at the Cross of Jesus, first at His tomb, 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 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. R. 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. R. Amen.

Prayer Source: Kyrie Eleison — Two Hundred Litanies by Benjamin Francis Musser O.F.M., The Magnificat Press, 1944

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