Mary Magdalene


There are several paintings and statues of Mary Magdalene after destroying her looks by wondering around the desert in the hopes that she would be more accepted by Jesus. However, I cannot find any scripture reference to this act by Mary. Is there such a reference or are these paintings based on other writing on Mary Magdalene?

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I’ve never seen any such painting - can you point us to somewhere on the web that has these images? I’ve only ever seen her depicted as very beautiful - I would be interested to see these works of art you are talking about.



There are a good many pictures of St. Mary Magdalene as a hermit. You primarily get her as an old woman who’s spent her life in repentance, or as a woman wandering around naked and clothed only by her hair (which is shown as having grown long enough to completely cover her, or to have turned into a big haircloth garment).

Both of these images are referring to actual though extreme practices of the earliest desert monks, sisters, and male and female hermits/eremites. (It’s a lot easier to be a ragged or even naked hermit if you live in someplace warm, like Egypt. Although it would get pretty cold at night!) Legend says that Mary Magdalene emigrated to what today is France (and Gaul was the site of some very early Christian communities), and then went out into the French wilderness and lived in a cave for the rest of her life. (This is a version in which the Magdalene = Mary of Bethany. So the Bethany siblings also migrated to Gaul; Lazarus did cool miracles and led the community, and Martha tamed the dragon Tarrasque.)

I don’t think I’ve run across any legends where Mary Magdalene was deliberately ruining her looks. That’s a motif largely limited to legends of virgin martyrs, or girls who want to run away to the desert without being pursued by annoying suitors. Often their looks are miraculously restored after people quit bugging them, or immediately after death.


Go to this URL: Especially look at Donatello’s statue of Mary Magdalene.


That story is NOT about St Mary Magdalene (as in Apostle to the Apostles) - could be about another one that was traveling in the desert. I forget the other info on this 2nd woman but I think I read about her in a book like Harlots of the Desert. This 2nd Mary Magdalene had been traveling with a group to a pilgrimage site and was denied entry, had a vision and/or heard voices and did penance for the rest of her life as a hermit in the desert.


There are none. Its not in Scripture.


I believe you are confusing St Mary Magdalen with St Mary of Egypt and perhaps another saint as well. What you have related above is definitely not St Mary Magdalen.



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