In my icon paintings Mary Magdalene appears more tan once. I am truly fascinated with her story.
Her feast day is July 22.
There are more and more scholars today trying to prove or identify the“Cult of Mary Magdalene”, which arose in Provence France during the 11th century. They seek evidence for Mary and her companions having fled persecution in Jerusalem, crossing the Mediterranean in a boat, and landing near Arles in the South of France, named Saintes Maries de la Mer. She is then believed to have retired to the Holy Cave,“Sainte-Baume” on a hill in the Marseille region, and converted the residents of Provence to Christianity. This tradition holds that throughout 30 years, as a Gnostic Apostle of Jesus, she taught her own Disciples there as Christianity was being formalized. These legends of Mary Magdalene were widely accepted throughout the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages.
Mary in the Cave
As a Roman Catholic saint, Mary Magdalene’s relics are accepted as authentic and are venerated at Saint Maximin la Sainte Baume, Provence, attracting throngs of pilgrims to her great Basilica, erected in the mid thirteenth century. Her bones are said to be scattered during the French Revolution, but her head is said to remain in the cave shrine at La Sainte-Baume near Marseille.
The Biblical Mary Magdalene was a woman of independent means, she followed Jesus, and ministered unto him (Mark 15:40-41), (Luke 8:2-3.) She also continued to help and support those first Apostles of Jesus. The iconic Templar symbol for her status as the Apostles patron Saint of is her trademark money pouch and X drawn across her garment. She is also depicted with a flask or alabaster jar and long light colored hair. In France she is frequently identified as the Black Madonna with a child standing in her lap.
I sincerely hope we will discover more real evidence surrounding the first century Essene Gospels, lost archives and historical documents from France which date earlier than the 13th century. Today everyone recognizes women were not mentioned in full through Biblical accounts and that today there are real and important discoveries changing how we read these historical accounts. Women are being restored to their rightful place through our modern-day gender debate, painful as it may be for some.
Mary Magdalene, named Mary of “Magdala”, a town on the western shore of the Lake of Tiberias, 10 kilometers from Copernium, where Jesus based his ministry. Outside of The New Testament accounts and the apocrypha nothing is known about her. Whether she lived in Magdala or simply born there is unknown, but she was apparently a wealthy woman and dedicated follower of Jesus.
The “Wisdom Texts” of the Essene scrolls describe “Wisdom” as a female figure.
We have failed to develop doctrines inclusive of the feminine aspects of God. The early church as it was debating the theological attributes of the Holy Trinity doctrine, wisdom and spirit did have a feminine aspect. In the Essene Priesthood, for the first 300 years or more after the death of Christ, women were given initiatory training. Historian Flavius Josephus documents that women were recognized as Priestesses, and equal to the men.
It is documented that Jesus the Nazarene had studied with the ancient Priesthood of the Essenes in Egypt, and of which he was a High Priest. Their rituals included practices of spiritual purification using energy centers located at seven points along the spinal column, astonishingly similar to what new Buddhists popularly call the seven energy chakras.
Spiritual traditions intentionally practice working with energy chakras to “clear” or “cleanse” the astral body by “removing” clouds or blocks of “negative energy”, perhaps referred to in early Christianity as “demons”. Naturally, the only way to become a High Priest(ess) was necessarily to cleanse one’s own seven chakras, casting out all negative energies, removing all blocks, to ensure that the Holy Spirit would flow strongly through the Priest(ess).
In light of new research and findings the true identity of Mary Magdelena is changing, and effecting women in general.
What became the accepted prejudice against
women as wise healers with priestly power is coming to an end and it should. Women have been silenced by decrees since before the 7th century when Pope Gregory (590-604 AD) mistakenly associated Mary Magdalene with a “sinner”’.
Mary’s identity became dirty and sinful in 591. In that year Pope Gregory the Great gave a sermon which overlapped Mary who had been cured of seven demons with the same penitent prostitute who anointed Jesus’ feet with ointment (Luke 7:37-50) This once sermon took any power women had away and launched generations of prejudice against them suing Mary Magdelene as the icon.
The Iconic image of Mary Magdalene
Our society and the institutional church has miles to go and plenty of room for change especially where women are concerned; their images, their history and their still unrecognized contribution to the revelation of God becoming man and how it is reflected in theology. I am comfortable to provoke the question and the debate; Christ was the son of God and never intended to have a diminished place for women. We will one day come to see women as complete and whole through His eyes.