St. Mary Magdalene

Being almost Lent and all, I wanted to get an icon of a saint that exemplifies repentance and turning from sin. Felt drawn to St. Mary Magdalene so I looked up my favorite Orthodox icon website to see if they had icons of her.

Turns out the Orthodox don’t believe St. Mary Magdalene was the sinful woman who washed the feet of Jesus with her hair.

Now I’m confused…:confused:

I remember reading somewhere that a pope has stated that St. Mary Magdalene is also the sinful woman and the sister of St. Martha and Lazarus. Was that an infallible statement or something pious worthy of belief?

I did not think that Mary Magdalene was considered a redeemed sinner any more. I found these articles to be useful

Catholics still link the foot washing with Mary M?

I think there are two accounts of Jesus feet being “washed” by a woman.
–One is by Lazarus’s sister, Mary (John 12:1-3)…not the same Mary.
–The second is an unnamed “sinful” woman who lives in the town of the Pharisee’s house where Jesus eats dinner one night (Luke 7:36-48) and she cries on his feet, then dries them with her hair.

But neither of these two women are said to be Mary Magdalene in the biblical canon of scriptures.
Pope Gregory is the one who in 591 gave an erroneous homily/sermon that she was the “sinner” and also Lazarus’ sister–he combined all the women into one composite…but that was corrected long ago, from what I have known and see and read.


I read somewhere that St. Mary Magdalene spent the rest of her life in a cave in current day-France (I think) doing penance. (Then there’s the miracle of the red egg.)

There have been at least a few saints who wrote about her conversion and instant attainment of fiery love of God.

The main important theme is repentance…I just hope I don’t get the people/events mixed up…

Has there been an official final statement by the Church?

On EWTN’s World Over Live, I saw an interview with
Bill O’Reilly(Of Fox News) who wrote a book on
the last days of Jesus(Killing Jesus- a History)
He portrayed Mary Magdalene as the prostitute
who washed Jesus’ feet with her hair!
He’s a well known CATHOLIC news reporter.

I was taught that Mary Magdalene was indeed a close friend of Jesus, a follower, but definitely NOT a prostitute.

Penance for what?
He “drove demons out of her” etc, etc (which could mean any number of ailments) and then she was totally devoted to him–followed him around, helped to fund his travels, stood by him at his death, went to the tomb, was the first to proclaim, went out and preached on her own after he died, was “the apostle to the apostles”…what did you read that she did penance for?


Bill O’Reilly wrote that??!
Well, I wouldn’t believe anything Bill O’Reilly says or writes…but he’s for sure wrong on this one.


There’s a belief that she was also the woman of many sins (which may or may not have involved prostitution).

Pax Christi!

No infallible statement has been made; it’s simply pious tradition that she had demons driven out, washed our Lord’s hair, was beautiful, had long hair and money (and vanity).

All the saints and all the angels, pray for us!

God bless.

St. Augustine, a great Saint that might better suit your purpose. :slight_smile:

Confessions of St. Augustine

In the East the Sundays of Lent are all connected with a saint who exemplifies repentance and striving for holiness. The first saint that came to mind for your desire is St. Mary of Egypt.

St. Mary Magdalene is called Equal-to-the-Apostles. We believe, if I recall correctly, that she was a very wealthy woman who had the exorcism of seven demons and then spent much of her fortune funding new churches, missionaries, and evangelism. She met someone very high up and brought about the miracle of the egg.

But the weeks of Lent go as follows:

1: Sunday of Triumph of Orthodoxy
2: St. Gregory Palamas
3: Veneration of the Cross
4: St. John of the Ladder
5: St. Mary of Egypt

An Icon of any of these events or Saints would be good for veneration during Great Lent.

On some of the Lutheran calendars, St Mary Magdalene is referred to as an “Apostle”

Yes, I do admire her great ascetic life in the desert after repenting her colorful past.

I have an icon of her as my wallpaper on my work computer screen.

Mary Magdalene was a woman of importance. Note that she is listed ahead of Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the Gospels. The tradition in the writing of that time was to list people in order of social standing. She would also be about the age of Mary, mother of Jesus. This gives the lie to the idea that she was a prostitute or the lover/wife of Jesus.

The story I have heard about the conflation of the three women was what DaddyGirl stated. The conflation was quite influential in artistic representation of of Mary Magdalene. I think particularly of Goya’s depictions of her.

A possible source of thinking her a great sinner in need of repentance was the Jewish belief that possession or illness was the result of sinning. To have seven demons would then mean that she or her parents had sinned greatly. The number seven also symbolized completeness, so it could also be understood that she was absolutely possessed.

That was an erroneous statement made in a homily by Pope Gregory in the 6th Century.
It was later corrected by official statement by the Catholic Church.
Poor Mary. She does good work and is a good person…and for 13 centuries, people erroneously think she’s a prostitute. I feel badly for her, it’s not fair.

Well that’s what it says in the bible in the gospel called Luke–that she had the demons come out of her. But I guess that’s open to interpretation…or could be an error:

"…and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; "
(Luke 8:2)

It also says in the bible that she helped Jesus with her money resources.
But the other bits…the part about washing the hair, etc…her name was not attached to those events in the bible writings and details suggest they are not her.


Pax Christi!

You’re right - it’s definitely Scriptural. My mistake!

God bless.

I’ve viewed this as that she was absolutely healed.

RebeccaJ, I thought about that too after I posted and have not had a chance to get back and add it. Excellent point.

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