Feast of St. Mary Magdalene
July 22, 2021
“Chosen because you are beloved and beloved because you are chosen of God.”
– St. Anselm of Canterbury (Oratio LXXIII ad sanctam Mariam Magdalenam)
Mary Magdalene was the first person to encounter the risen Christ in the garden outside the tomb. It was there that she was the first “witness of Divine Mercy”.
Both Pope Francis and Pope St. John Paul II have recognized the importance and relevance of the life of St. Mary Magdalene. Pope Francis, through the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, elevated the celebration of St. Mary Magdalene to a Feast (rather than a Memorial) and Pope St. John Paul II gave her role as the first witness a symbol of the importance of women in the mission of Christ and the Church.
Christ chose a woman to be the first to see him after his resurrection and to announce the news to his apostles. The elevation of Mary Magdalene’s memorial to Feast Day by St. Francis demonstrates the church’s respect for the dignity of women. Pope St. John Paul II understood that women, as a “mighty work of God” possessed equality with men by and through her personally feminine nature, and as such becomes the living subject and irreplaceable witness to this mighty work.
St. Thomas Aquinas referred to her as the “apostle of the Apostles”. She fulfills the command of the Risen Lord: “Go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God. Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’ and she told them that he had said these things to her” (Jn 20: 17-18).
On her Feast day and other Masses in honor of St. Mary Magdalene, a specific Preface before the Eucharistic Prayer was announced, honoring her as the “apostle of the Apostles”.
- Image reference: “Appearance of Jesus Christ to Maria Magdalena,” by Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov, 1835. (Wikimedia Commons)
- St. Anselm of Canterbury: Oratio LXXIII ad sanctam Mariam Magdalenam