Why is Mary Magdalene considered a great sinner?


Why did she need an exorcism? What are some good websites to learn more about her?



St Mary Magdalene was just a sinner, like the rest of us. That is her story. Jesus drove 7 demons out of her.
Jesus drove demons out of many people. She was just one.
Have you heard the story of the legion of demons going into the pig herd, who then ran over the cliff? Jesus drove the legion of demons out of a man.


She’s not. She’s like anyone else.


Actually, she’s better than most anyone else…being a saint venerated by Holy Mother Church :D.
In fact, Pope Francis has ‘promoted’ her commemoration from a mere memorial, as is typical of saints, to a full feast - as is typical of the apostles. The Fathers referred to her as the “apostle to the Apostles” for it was St. Mary who first carried the good news of the resurrection of the Lord’s disciples.


Yeah, I don’t think she was, in fact the Bible names the greatest sinner, and that sinner is the one that calls himself out, St Paul.


Saul does accept that title. Though he did repent and convert.

I always get a chill up my spine reading the word of Jesus, “…but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.” Hoping it was hyperbole and not speaking in a pluralistic sense.


The term great sinner refers to her occupation before she encountered Jesus.


What occupation?

I hope you don’t mean prostitute because there is nothing in Scripture saying she was a prostitute nor in tradition and nor does the Church teach she was a prostitute.

This arose simply out of a personal opinion of Pope Gregory in a homily.


There is Scriptural basis for Mary’s occupation. From the commentary of Cornelius A. Lapide:

And behold a woman in the city. Behold, a wonderful thing, and a wonderful example of penitence. A woman called Mary Magdalene. S. Luke viii. 2. It is questioned whether this is the same woman who is mentioned by the two other Evangelists. S. Chrysostom thinks there were two; Origen, Theophylact, and Euthymius, three who thus anointed our Lord, and that each Evangelist wrote of a different person. S. Matt. xxvi. 7; S. John xii. 3.
But I hold that it was one and the same woman – Mary Magdalene, the sister of Martha and of Lazarus, who anointed our Lord, as we read in the Gospels, on two but not three occasions; and this is clear, –

  1. Because this is the general interpretation of the Church, who in her Offices accepts what is here written by S. Luke as referring to the Magdalene alone.
  2. Because S. John (xi. 2) writes, It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick, thus plainly alluding to this passage of S. Luke, and signifying that only one woman anointed the Lord. For if there had been more than one, the words just quoted would have insufficiently described her. But the meaning is, “when I say Mary, I mean the penitent who anointed the feet of the Lord, as recounted by S. Luke, whom all know to be Mary Magdalene.”
  3. Because the Mary mentioned by S. John (xii. 2, 3) is clearly the same Mary Magdalene, the sister of Martha and of Lazarus, who anointed Christ here, as described by S. Luke, and again at Bethany, six days before the passover. For S. Matthew (xxvi. 6) and S. John (xii. i) both refer to the same event, as is evident if the two accounts are compared together. Therefore it was Mary Magdalene who anointed Christ, not three times, as Origen would have us believe, but twice only, once as is recorded by S. Luke, and again six days before His death.
    4 The same thing is testified to by Church history and tradition, and also by the inscription on the tomb of the Magdalene, which Maximus, one of the seventy disciples, is said to have built.
  4. And this is also the opinion of S. Augustine, S. Cyprian, and many other interpreters of scripture.
    But it may be objected that this Magdalene followed Jesus from Galilee (S. Matt. xxvii. 55), and was a Galilean, and cannot have been the same as Mary the sister of Martha, who lived at Bethany, and was therefore of Judæa. I answer that she was of Judæa by descent, but seems to have lived in Galilee, it may be in the castle called Magdala, either because she had married the lord of that place, or because it had been allotted her as her share of the family property. Hence she was called Magdalene from the name of the place, Magdala. So Jansenius and others.
    In the city. Some think in Jerusalem. But Jerusalem was in Judæa, and these things seem to have been done in Galilee where Christ was preaching. Hence it is very probable that the city was Nain, the scene of Christ’s miracle, as Toletus and others conjecture; but some think that it was the town of Magdala in which she lived, an idea which Adricomius on the word Magdalum supports.
    A sinner. Some recent writers, to honour the Magdalene, think that she was not unchaste, but only conceited and vain, and for this reason called a sinner. But in proportion as they thus honour the Magdalene, they detract from the grace of God and that penitence which enabled her to live a holy life. For by the word sinner we generally understand one who not only sins, but leads others also to sin. The word sinner therefore here signifies a harlot, i.e. one who has many lovers although she may not make a public market of her charms, and this interpretation is accepted by S. Augustine, S. Jerome, Isidore of Pelusium, S. Ambrose, Gregory, Bede, and S. Chrysostom, who holds (Hom. 62 ad Pop.) that to her refer the words of our Lord, Verily, I say unto you, that the publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. S. Matt. xxii. 31.


These sites answer your question

[1] catholicism.org/mary-magdalen.html

[2] biography.com/people/mary-magdalene-9401421#synopsis

[3] franciscanmedia.org/saint-mary-magdalene/


I repeat. There is nothing in Scripture about her being or maybe being a prostitute. There is also nothing in tradition on this matter. The Church does NOT teach such either.
What some “recent” writers think is irrelevant.


Like there isn’t anything saying the beloved disciple is John?

Hating on little ‘t’ traditions isn’t gonna get you anywhere here. You need to argue your claim like I have mine.


There is no argument BECAUSE…

There is NOTHING in Scripture. There is NOTHING in tradition. There is NOTHING in Church teaching.
You have not shown anything in those three. Especially NOT in Scripture and NOT in Church teaching trumps the speculative comments in your earlier post.


I have. Read the quote and make an argument.

Mary of Bethany: Anointed Jesus and provided for His needs
Penitent Woman: Anointed Jesus

Mary of Bethany = Penitent Woman

Mary Magdalene: Healed by Jesus and provided for His needs

Mary Magdalene = Mary of Bethany = Penitent Woman


Q: Why is Mary Magdalene considered a great sinner?
A: Because people do not read the Bible.

However I am amazed that some canonized saints consider MM a great sinner.


Why is it we are focusing on her sin? Have we all not sinned? I can tell you right now there isn’t really a sin I have not committed and I can promise you I am a much greater sinner than Mary Magdalene. Seriously, why continue to bring up her sin, to what purpose does it serve? In fact if you want to talk about her look into her life after Jesus! What an amazing life!!!


Yep. Read the quote. It is wrong.

Mary of Magdala and Mary of Bethany are not the same person. This is pious belief, but is incorrect.

Neither is Mary of Bethany the penitent woman. Jesus was anointed by a penitent woman, but he was also anointed by Mary shortly after Lazarus’ restoration and before his death. There is no textual or critical basis to conflate the two events.

Further, Magdala and Bethany are nowhere near each other.

Identifying Mary Magdalene as some kind of prostitute is a result of bad exegesis and conflation of characters that has entered the popular mind. Thankfully, the Church has disposed of such misconceptions and simply commemorates Mary Magdalene as “Disciple of the Lord”. The Eastern churches go even further: Equal to the Apostles.


Read the link I provided thistle.

A person who comes from two locations can be attached to both of those locations.

As to your assertion that Mary of Bethany and the penitent woman are not the same read John 11:2.

And why does Luke record a few verses after the story that Mary Magdalene was among women who helped Jesus? Surely Luke intended to make a connection between the two.


Only for those who come looking for a justification.

There is nothing in the texts that even imply that the two women are the same. Lots of women helped Jesus, and Miriam was a common enough name.

People will see what they want to see. But from a textual standpoint, there is no connection between these women. There is no “surely Luke intended.” The explanation can be simpler: he just wrote the next story right after another. Just because this story follows that story does not automatically bring one to the conclusion that therefore the two are the same. No.

It’s not a matter of the faith. All we know is that Mary Magdalene had seven demons which Jesus drove out of her, and she was the first to see the risen Lord and tell the apostles.

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