St. Mary Magdalene Apostle Why does this matter?


When Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene after his resurrection, he sent her to tell the apostles.

So, there has been a growing sentiment that Mary M. was an apostle…to the apostles.

And, it seems that that this sentiment, after all these centuries, has been formalized more by Pope Francis, by his elevation of her feast day to be on a par with the other apostles.

Obviously, this is a papal ‘nod’ to women, one of several that Francis has made to recognize and elevate the role of women in the Church (while re-iterating at the same time, that women cannot be ordained).

Scripture does not designate or address Mary Magdalene as an apostle. So, this represents “the development of doctrine” in the Church (which the Orthodox and Protestants and others criticize the Roman Catholic Church for, for “adding” to the word of God).

This was brought up in a recent Bible study session conducted by a woman, and it seems that this resonated with the group (mostly women) a lot more than I thought it would (I’m a guy).

WHY does this make such a big difference to women? Do you think this “opens a door” for women in the Church?


To call this a development of doctrine goes too far, in my opinion. Mary Magdalene is honored in Orthodox tradition as well. Orthodox Wiki’s article summary for her states: “The great and holy myrrh-bearer Mary Magdalene, equal of the apostles, was a disciple of Jesus named Mary from Magdala, a town in Galilee. Her feast is celebrated on July 22, and she is also remembered on the Sunday of Myrrh-bearing Women. She has an Akathist hymn dedicated to her.”

Equal of the apostles. Certainly neither Catholics nor Orthodox consider her to have been consecrated as a priestess. This is not so much an elevation as it is a restoration. Her reputation has been tarnished in recent centuries in the west, and it’s wonderful to see her role and the role of women in the early Church celebrated.


It’s just recognizing her for her zeal. Don’t make more out of it than there is.
She deserves the credit.
Many of the Confirmadi at our parish select her as their patron saint.
The just love her story. Even pious legends about her.


IMHO, what we are seeing here is a righting of the misperception of Mary Magdalene ( based upon pure speculation. Her role in announcing the Resurrection of Christ to the 12 certainly has a great significance that should be formally recognized by the Faithful; however, to call her an “Apostle” beyond the sense of a special messenger from Christ would be, IMHO, somewhat of a stretch.


Poor Pope Francis! He cannot even sneeze without someone suspecting him of knowingly spreading the Zika virus.

Why do we read soooo much into things?


This comment confuses me? Anyhow…

I think Pope Francis is highlighting how special Mary was to Jesus and her role in the early Church. Mary didn’t choose to be, or stumble into it coincidentally, the first to announce the Good News of our Lord’s resurrection…He chose her! Was she the first to even know about the Resurrection? There is some who think Jesus appeared to His Blessed Mother first, and then to Mary Magdalene…so regardless…He appeared first of all to a woman. What an honor! And it’s a reminder that to be charged with spreading the Good News isn’t restricted to Apostles only, it’s for all His disciples.

As a woman, I take this as yet another example of how Holy Mother Church treasures and honors all her children, whether male or female. Some folks only see that if one can’t be in a position of authority (say Bishop, Pope, or Priest), then one isn’t valued or equal. Not true at all. It’s good for Pope Francis to gently remind us of this, especially those of us who are women.


There’s no suspicion; he made an announcement. There is no doubt. My original question is, why does this make such a difference to women?

This comes off the pages of scripture, but it seems to be only women (so far) that I’ve heard complain that, of course, there must have been women at the last supper.

There is a point here, whether the Vatican Counsel is being ignored, that scripture reveals what is necessary for salvation. Or, specifically, it is necessary for our salvation to make us insist that there were women at the last supper. I don’t think this is trivial or mysoginistic.

Sometimes the Church has to put things together, like the dogma of the Trinity, which is not in scripture, in that verbatim form – which is a stumbling block for some Protestants, at least, who actually claim that there are three gods, or Mormons, who say that there are many.

I’m picking at a couple scabs here. One, how much more is there to be revealed in the Gospel, in general, and, two, about women, in particular?


Women have always been in the Church, I wasn’t aware that the door was shut :slight_smile:

I think it matters because there has historically been so much emphasis on the ministry of the ordained that it’s refreshing to see importance placed on the roles that those who cannot be ordained can play. It’s nice to see a woman celebrated without the background suspicion that we might try to stage a coup :wink:


Unless there was a separate announcement, calling her an apostle to the apostles does not mean she was at the last supper. Not saying she wasn’t, but that’s not implied by simply calling here that.

I mean, what do you believe is really new with this announcement besides emphasis? This is not a new unpacking of scripture or doctrinal development. It’s a longstanding saint’s memorial that is being given more prominence in the Latin liturgical calendar.


I don’t think you need much more than the Gospel texts themselves to derive Mary Magdalene’s “apostle to the Apostles” role. She was the one sent by Jesus (“apostle” meaning “one who is sent”) to proclaim the Resurrection to the Eleven. Sure, the text doesn’t call her an “apostle” in so many words, but “apostle to the Apostles” is a catchy title that accurately describes her role on the first Easter.

And yes, it can be a nice feeling for women when the Church acknowledges the many female saints and their importance throughout the history of the Church. While I don’t think the Church is inherently a misogynistic enterprise because ordination is restricted to men, there have been great stretches of history when society in general (sadly including the Church) has not had a high opinion of women, and it is good to see that steps continue to be taken in the opposite direction.

Changing the rank of a saint’s feast day is the sort of thing that is entirely within the Pope’s competence and requires no teasing of obscure truths out of Scripture. As the Eastern Christian in the thread noted, elsewhere in the Church she already holds the epithet “equal to the apostles,” which seems to be granted to Eastern saints who had a notable role in the spreading of the Faith.


It’s important to women…and it should be important to men, too…because if someone has an important, integral role in something epic in history, that person should be acknowledged properly for it.
Be they a man or a woman.

And keeping in mind the context of the era when the writers wrote the stories, she may have indeed been considered an apostle by the others (she travelled with them, did she not? As per scripture, she helped fund Jesus’ ministry? She preached after he was crucified and “spread the gospel”? She stayed with Jesus while the others fled?) but there is a decent chance the gospel writers downplayed her role.

She’s owed reparation, especially since she has been wrongly and unfairly called a prostitute for a thousand years, thanks to Pope Gregory’s error.

Another case of an independent, strong woman who is smeared and/or diminished because the others feared her strength and power, I think.



As for the title “Apostle to the Apostles,” it has been applied to Mary Magdalene since at least the time of St Thomas Aquinas. So, it’s not really new.

Althought it is true that the days in the liturgical calendar dedicated to the celebration of the Apostles have the rank of feasts, there are other saints whose days also have the rank of feasts who were not Apostles, such as Saints Mark, Luke, Steven, and Lawrence.


However, Mary Magdalene was NOT an Apostle.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit