26 June 2009

S. Maria Magdalena by Lavers and Westlake

S. Maria Magdalena
(1902). Lavers and Westlake. Stained Glass. St. Matthews, Carver Street, Sheffield. Image courtesy of Flickr.

Recently came across this beautiful stained glass image by Lavers and Westlake so thought I would share.

25 June 2009

Edgar Cayce on Mary Magdalene

In my post on Leonardo and the Real Mary Magdalene I have a link to an article which references Edgar Cayce's reading on Mary Magdalene. Since it makes for interesting reading, particularly Cayce's claim that there was no sexual relationship, I am including it in more detail below:

"Q: Please describe the personal appearance of the body [of Mary Magdalene] at that time.

"A: This is well drawn by Da Vinci, as well as in that by Blum [Blaum?] - The Magdalene. A body five feet four inches (5'4") in height, weight a hundred and twenty-one (121) pounds - in the general. Hair almost red. The eyes were blue. The features were those impelled both from the Grecian and Jewish ancestry." (295-8)

According to Cayce's readings, the soul that was Mary Magdalene (#295 in the Cayce files) began her incarnations in this world as the princess Amliea in Atlantis, with a talent for maintaining the life force in physical bodies through magnetic treatments, presumably using the famed Atlantean crystal. In one case, she actually purified a friend's body of possession-like influences. As a result of being highborn and talented, she experienced the pomp and ceremony that came with such. But according to the Sleeping Prophet's reading, she did not handle the recognition well, becoming discontented with the people to the point that she began acting against them and their ways, taking names and holding grudges. She had the magic within her to channel the higher forces into the Earth realms yet a personality that tended toward contention and strife against any who opposed her.

In her second major incarnation, men were now ruling, unlike Atlantean times when women ruled. She was the temple musician Islta in Egypt during the time of the high priest Ra Ta (an incarnation of Edgar Cayce's soul). When the high priest was banished for his misdeeds, she counseled Pharaoh to reinstate the priest for the sake of the higher good for all. Once Ra Ta was restored, she continued her temple musician duties, which again allowed her to channel the Creative Forces to improve the vibrations in human bodies and minds. The sleeping Cayce said that many of her compositions will be recovered when the "yet uncovered" pyramids are found.

In the Egyptian incarnation, she developed a distrust of men. Also, her sense of discontent with this world and most people increased.

The next significant incarnation was as Mary Magdalene. Cayce's reading of the Akashic Record says that she did indeed become a courtesan in the Roman courts and a harlot among the men of her people. Cayce's readings also identify her as the Mary who was the sister of Martha and Lazarus and the woman who, caught in adultery and condemned to be stoned, was let go by Jesus' statement: "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."

Cayce says that she was 22 when Jesus raised her brother from the tomb, causing many changes within her. Cayce goes on to explain that she and others found it strange to share life with her recently deceased brother, who once again lived among them. When she was 23, the readings state that "Christ cleansed her from seven devils: avarice, hate, self-indulgence, and those of the kindred selfishnesses; hopelessness and blasphemy."

She joined with Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the disciple John's household, which also included Elois (sister of the Mary that was the mother of John and James). There were also many visits from several of the disciples. Sadly, Martha, Lazarus, and James "the Lesser" (John's brother) had all been killed in the first wave of Roman crackdowns on followers of Jesus Christ. Cayce's readings say that the officials felt that Lazarus had to be killed because he was a walking reminder of Christ's miracles.

Cayce says that, like her brother, Mary Magdalene became a kind of "monument, as a memorial, to the activity of the Christ life upon the life of a soul" in this world because she had been a "sinner" and was purified and energized to a new way of thinking and acting. Her presence was a blessing to many, including Romans who had known her before and after the cleansing.

This little household lived in John's summer home on Lake Gennesaret, but the increasing crackdowns forced them to move north to Ephesus, and there they remained until their deaths.

When asked if Mary Magdalene had been Jesus' lover, Cayce clearly replied that she had not. Jesus wanted to be, and was, "her savior," not her lover. But this lover idea is sure selling a lot of books and resulted in a major motion picture.

The idea of that the progeny of Mary Magdalene and Jesus are living today fits nicely within our growing interest in the genetic code and its impact on future generations. Blood lines have always been a fascination for humans. But, as exciting as it may be to think that Jesus's heirs may be living quietly in Europe, it is not true according to Cayce's reading of the Akashic records.

After her life as Mary Magdalene, her next major incarnation picked up on her royal birth in Atlantis. This time she was the daughter of the last of the Louises, Louis XVI of France. Again she was facing mounting contention from the people ruled by her family. When Louis resigned and the rebellion began, she escaped the fate of the rest of her family by fleeing with great stealth to Austria and changing her name to Marie Augusta.

In her soul's next incarnation, she joined with Edgar Cayce's little band of visionaries to help build the Association for Research and Enlightenment. Her name was Mildred Davis. Her special healing talents were once again apparent, as the "sleeping" Cayce selected her to be among the seven initial members of the Glad Helpers Prayer Group. Edgar Cayce once had a dream about her in which she announced to everyone in the group that she was going to foretell what the next Cayce reading would say!

In this incarnation, the readings said that she needed to overcome her mistrust of men and her contentious spirit against people with different opinions. He also encouraged her to hold on to her deep understanding of the importance of not condemning self, which Jesus planted in her when he said, "Neither do I condemn thee."

18 June 2009

John Mirk, Sermon on St. Mary Magdalen

From the TEAMS Middle English Texts at The Camelot Project comes the following sermon by John Mirk on St. Mary Magdalen:

Gode men, suche a day . . . ye schul have the feste of Mary Magdalé, that was so holy that oure Lorde Jhesu Criste aftur Hys modur He lovid hir moste of alle wommen. Wherefore ye schal comyn to the chyrch that day to worchep God and this holy womman, for scheo was the furste in tyme of grace that dud penaunce for hyr synnes, and so recovred ageyne grace be doing of penaunce, and repentyng that scheo hadde loste be luste of the flesse and so synnyng. The wyche is made a myrroure to alle synful to schewon how alle that wollon levon hur synne, and done penaunce for hur trespace, thei schul recovre grace ageyn that thei have loste and ofte myche more. An so dude this womman, and how ye schul here.

This womman Mary Magdaleyne hadde a fadur that was a grete lorde and comyn of kyngus blode, and hadde grete lordeschep in Jerusalem, the wyche he gaf at hys dying to Lazarus hys sone. And the lordschep that he hadde in Betanye, he gaf to Martha, hys doghtor. Magdaleyn Castele wyth alle the lordschep he gaf to Mary, hys other doghtyr, of the whyche castel scheo was callyd Mary Magdaleyne, for scheo was lady therof. Than, as many bokys tellyth, whan John Evangeliste schulde have weddyd hyr, Criste hadde John sewond Hym, and lyvon in maydenhed; and so he dud. Herfore Mary was wroth and gaf hyr al to synne and namely to lechery, insomyche that scho loste the name of Magdaleyne and was kallyd the synful womman. Than, for it was often seyne that Cryste of the gresteyste synnerres He made the moste holy aftyr, wherfore whan He seygh tyme, He gaf this womman grace to knowyn hyrself and repentaunce of hur mysdedus. [More]

SOURCE: Sherry L. Reames, ed., "John Mirk, Sermon on St. Mary Magdalen," TEAMS Middle English Texts. Retrieved 17 June 2009. Originally published in Middle English Legends of Women Saints (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 2003).

See also:

Early South English Legendary Life of Mary Magdalen
Legend of Mary Magdalen, Penitent and Apostle, The
Mary Magdalen, from Speculum Sacerdotale

17 June 2009

Mary Magdalen, from Speculum Sacerdotale

From the TEAMS Middle English Texts at The Camelot Project comes the following text from the Speculum Sacerdotale:

In syche a day ye schull have the feste of Seynt Marye Magdalene, whiche was the synneful womman and servyd to hure fleschely desires, and to whome God afterward gafe siche grace that sche servyd forgevenes of here synnes.

For when Crist was in the hous of Symon the Leprous, as sone as Marye herde telle of Hym, sche thought in hireself by dyvyne aspiracion and grace that it were then covenable tyme for to converte and make sorowe and penaunce of hure lyf that sche hadde ladde afore. And sche toke an oynement in a vessel and yede into the hous of Symon where Jhesu was and yede to the feet of Jhesu and wasshid hem with here teris of hure yghen and then dide wipe hem with the heeres of hire heed and anoyntyd hem then with hire oynement.

And seeynge Crist that the Pharasye Symon hadde indignacion that Crist lete siche a synful womman come so nye hym, he seide to hym thus: "Symon, sethen I come into thyn hows thou nether kyssid my feet ne wasshid hem ne anoyntid hem, but this womman hath done al this sethen sche come." And therefore seide Crist to Symon, "Propterea dimittuntur ei peccata multa quoniam dilexit multum. Therfore for hure myche love is the multitude of hure synnes forgeven." And then he seide to the womman, "Remittuntur tibi peccata tua quoniam dilexisti me. Woman, for thou hast shewyd to me love, thi synnes are forgeven. Vade, fides tua te salvam fecit. Go, thi feith hath made thee safe."

Joseph telleth us that Marie Magdalein for the grete brennyng love that sche loved God wold never have housbonde ne se man with hire yghen after the ascension of Crist. But sche yede into deserte and there sche dwellyd the space of thirty yere unknowyn to alle maner of men, ne never ete mete of man ne dronke drynke. But in yche tyme and in yche houre when that men worschipid here God, then the aungels of Hevene come to hyre and reysed hure up betwene hem into the eyre, and there sche made hire prayer with hem to God. [

SOURCE: Sherry L. Reames, ed., "
Mary Magdalen, from Speculum Sacerdotale," TEAMS Middle English Texts. Retrieved 17 June 2009. Originally published in Middle English Legends of Women Saints (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 2003).

See also:

Early South English Legendary Life of Mary Magdalen
John Mirk, Sermon on St. Mary Magdalen
Legend of Mary Magdalen, Penitent and Apostle, The

16 June 2009

Early South English Legendary Life of Mary Magdalen

From the TEAMS Middle English Texts at The Camelot Project comes the following early South English text based on the life of Mary Magdalen:

Sleighe men and egleche, and of redes wise and bolde,
Lustniez nouthe to mi speche, wise and unwise, yongue and olde.
Nothing ich eou nelle rede ne teche of none wichche ne of none scolde,
Bote of a lif that may beo leche to sunfule men of herte colde.
Ich nelle eou nother rede ne rime of kyng ne of eorl, of knyght ne of swein,
Ake of a womman ich chulle ou telle that was sunful and forlein;
A swythe fol wumman heo bicam, and thorugh Godes grace heo was ibrought ageyn,
And nouthe heo is to Crist icome, the fayre Marie Maudeleyn.
Of hire ichulle yeou telle nouthe al hou and hware heo was ibore,
Yif ye to me wullez iheore and habben of God thonk tharefore.
This word "Marie" so is brightnesse and bitokne the steorre of the se,
And soruwe also and biturnesse, ase the bok tellez me;
For hwane a man fielez in is heorte that he havez muche misdo,
And him tharefore biguynnez to smeorte, that is to him bitur and wo,
He mournez and he sikez ofte. This ilke Marie fierde also,
That thing that was hire leof and softe was seththe hire fulle fo.
In the Castel of Magdalé this faire wumman was ibore;
Heo was icleoped in propre name the Maudeleyne right tharefore.
To speken of hire ich am wel fous, and it likez me ful murie.
Ire fader was hoten Sire Titus, and hire moder Dame Euchirie,
Hire brothur was cleoped Lazarus, and Martha was hire soster.
Heo was debonere and pitiuous, and heo was a seli foster.
Heore fader and heore moder bothe comen of riche kunne,
Of bolde kyngus and of quienes, men of muchele wunne, [More]

SOURCE: Sherry L. Reames, ed., "Early South English Legendary Life of Mary Magdalen," TEAMS Middle English Texts. Retrieved 17 June 2009. Originally published in Middle English Legends of Women Saints (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 2003).

See also:

John Mirk, Sermon on St. Mary Magdalen
Legend of Mary Magdalen, Penitent and Apostle, The
Mary Magdalen, from Speculum Sacerdotale

15 June 2009

The Legend of Mary Magdalen, Penitent and Apostle

From the TEAMS Middle English Texts at The Camelot Project comes the following article regarding the Legend of Mary Magdalen:


The Mary Magdalen of medieval legend was a composite figure who had her origins in the Biblical passages about three different women - not just the woman explicitly called Mary Magdalen in the Gospels, but also Mary of Bethany, sister of Martha and Lazarus, and the unnamed female sinner who washed Christ's feet with her tears. Biblical exegetes in the Latin West tended to equate the three from the time of Gregory the Great on, but the various New Testament passages about these women were first woven into a single narrative vita in a tenth-century sermon attributed to Odo of Cluny. Odo's sermon, which was subsequently used as a source of lessons in the liturgy for Mary Magdalen's feast day (July 22), relates her life up to the time of Christ's Ascension. The post-Ascension portion of the legend developed in a great variety of ways, but
the dominant version in the West was clearly the one that claimed that she journeyed to Provence in a rudderless boat, had a successful career as an apostle in Marseilles and Aix-en-Provence, and then spent thirty years alone in the wilderness nearby as a contemplative hermit.

Victor Saxer, who did most of the pioneering work on both the cult and the legend, found that the legend of Mary Magdalen in Provence has four major components, which originated separately. (1) The vita eremitica, recounting her years of solitude in the wilderness and her death, was probably borrowed in the ninth century from the Greek legend of a reformed prostitute, Mary of Egypt. As Katherine Ludwig Jansen has pointed out, the Bible never actually specifies the nature of Mary Magdalen's sins, but medieval exegetes and preachers found it natural to connect female sinfulness with prostitution (The Making of the Magdalen, pp. 146 ff.). (2) The vita apostolica, recounting Mary Magdalen's apostolic work in Provence but not the story of the prince of Marseilles, dates from around the same time in the tenth century as Odo's sermon. (3) A translation story was added in the eleventh century to explain how her body had been rediscovered in Provence some 200 years earlier and brought north - with her consent - to the abbey of Vézelay in Burgundy. (4) The story of the prince of Marseilles, which bears close resemblances to secular romance and would become a favorite part of the vernacular legends of Mary Magdalen, was added even later - probably in the twelfth century. In addition to these major components, the Provençal legend in its fully developed form often includes two other kinds of relatively late additions: brief accounts of Martha, Lazarus, and other saints who supposedly accompanied Mary to Marseilles and participated in the evangelization of France, and stories about her miraculous intercessions for believers who have prayed to her or honored her memory in other ways. [

SOURCE: Sherry L. Reames, ed., "The Legend of Mary Magdalen, Penitent and Apostle," TEAMS Middle English Texts. Retrieved 17 June 2009. Originally published in Middle English Legends of Women Saints (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, 2003).
See also:

Early South English Legendary Life of Mary Magdalen
John Mirk, Sermon on St. Mary Magdalen
Mary Magdalen, from Speculum Sacerdotale

14 June 2009

Leonardo and the Real Mary Magdalene

Il cenacolo. [The Last Supper]
(1495-1498). Leonardo da Vinci. Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan. Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

Contrary to Dan Brown, I do not believe that the figure to the Christ's right is Mary Magdalene. It was typical of Renaissance artists to depict the disciple John as young and somewhat effeminate. See also the convincing argument from Leonardo's notebooks and the Bible at Da Vinci Speaks. However, in spite of that, Leonardo may have left us an image of the Magdalene.

Mary Magdalene
(c. 1515). Recently attributed to Leonardo da Vinci. Private collection. Image courtesy of Maria Madalena e o Santo Graal.

From Wikipedia:

The above painting was recently attributed as a Leonardo by Carlo Pedretti. Previously regarded as the work of Giampietrino who painted a number of similar Magdalenes.[7] Carlo Pedretti's attribution of this painting is not accepted by other scholars, e.g. Carlo Bertelli, (former director of the Brera Art Gallery in Milan), who said this painting is not by Leonardo and that the subject could be a Lucretia with the knife removed.[8]

[7]. "A lost Leonardo? Top art historian says maybe". Universal Leonardo. Retrieved on 2007-09-27.
[8]. Bertelli, Carlo (November 19, 2005). "Due allievi non fanno un Leonardo" (in Italian). Il Corriere della Sera. Retrieved on 2007-09-27.
See also:

"Unseen Da Vinci works go on show," BBC News (15 Oct 2005).
"Mary Magdalene: Edgar Cayce's Da Vinci Painting Found," Gaia Community (18 Jul 2008).

13 June 2009

La Maddalena by Francesco Furini

La Maddalena (). Francesco Furini. Museo di Stato di San Marino. Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

I'm still trying to learn more about this painting, but the Magdalene does appear somewhat pregnant here.

12 June 2009

Mary Magdalene by Stodart

Mary Magdalene
. Richard Stodart. Image courtesy of Richard

Stodart captures beautifully the eyes of the Magdalene in this stunning image. The article in Wikipedia explains the tradition of the often-occuring egg in Magdalene paintings:
One tradition concerning Mary Magdalene says that following the death and resurrection of Jesus, she used her position to gain an invitation to a banquet given by Emperor Tiberius. When she met him, she held a plain egg in her hand and exclaimed "Christ is risen!" Caesar laughed, and said that Christ rising from the dead was as likely as the egg in her hand turning red while she held it. Before he finished speaking, the egg in her hand turned a bright red, and she continued proclaiming the Gospel to the entire imperial house. . . .

Another version of this story can be found in popular belief, mostly in Greece. It is believed that after the Crucifixion, Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary put a basket full of eggs at the foot of the cross. There, the eggs were painted red by the blood of the Christ. Then, Mary Magdalene brought them to Tiberius Caesar.

11 June 2009

Magdalenes by Guido Reni

The Penitent St. Mary Magdalene
(1633). Guido Reni. Image courtesy of Art / 4 / 2Day.

Description from the Art / 4 / 2Day site:
The image of the penitent Mary Magdalene enjoyed great popularity between the late sixteenth century and the first decades of the seventeenth century. Cardinal Baronius, in his hard-hitting polemics against Protestantism, employed the subject (along with that of the penitent St Peter) to emphasize the necessity and validity of penance, a sacrament discarded by the reformers. The penitent Magdalene was something of a iconographic specialty for Reni, who painted various versions to please a public that prized them and continually requested them. A splendid example of the mature style of Reni, this painting is characterized by a profound classicism in the monumental and noble figure of the saint. The refined chromatic range, lit by a cold and silvery light, is also typical of Reni's art in the 1630's.

Another version:

The Penitent St. Mary Magdalene (1635). Guido Reni. Image courtesy of Art / 4 / 2Day.

07 June 2009

Mary Magdalene in France

The following is from Dr. Barbara Thiering's website in which she answers a question that Dana Chivers asks about the Magdalene cult in Southern France.
The true facts on which the whole profitable cult of Mary Magdalene is based are, first, that two of the Herods, Archelaus and Antipas, were exiled to the south of France by the Romans, Archelaus to Vienne in 6 AD, and Antipas to Lyons in 39 AD. (Josephus, Antiquities 17, 344; 18, 252) These cities were prominent in the late 1st and early 2nd centuries AD as centers for Christian martyrs. Another element drew on my research, that the Christian movement had begun as a mission to the Diaspora in the courts of the Herods, that Jesus had survived the crucifixion, died in Rome in the early 70's AD, and that he had a family. His first wife was Mary Magdalene. [More]

06 June 2009

Mary Magdalene by Rossetti

Mary Magdalene leaving the house of feasting (1857). Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Tate Britain. Image courtesy of

Mary Magdalene at the door of Simon the Pharisee (1858). Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Image courtesy of The Athenaeum.

Mary Magdalene (1877). Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, DE. Image courtesy of Sexual Fables.

Other Rossetti pieces with a Magdalenian flavor:

La Ghirlandata (1873). Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Guildhall Art Gallery, London. Image courtesy of The Athenaeum.

The Beloved [aka The Bride] (1865-1866). Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Tate Britain. Image courtesy of The Athenaeum.

The bride is described in the biblical Song of Solomon. Rossetti shows her at the moment she takes the veil from her face, transfixing the viewer with her direct gaze and the power of her beauty. The picture’s lush exoticism is accentuated by the flowers and the bride’s luxurious Japanese dress and Peruvian headress. Her attendants are of varying physical types and ethnic origin.

SOURCE: Tate Collection The Beloved (`The Bride') by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

The Damsel of the Sanct Grael (1874). Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Private Collection. Image courtesy of The Athenaeum.

02 June 2009

Mary Magdalene by Anthony F. A. Sandys

Mary Magdalene (c. 1860). Anthony F. A. Sandys. Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, DE. Image courtesy of Holy Mary Magdalene.

I found the image below of Sandys' Morgan-le-Fay at Bethany Magdalene's Realm and wanted to include it for its similarities to Magdalenian art as well as its unique beauty. According to the BMAG website, "Sandys met the model for Morgan-Le-Fay, Keomi, in a gypsy camp in Rome. Very little is known about her but she is believed to to have had an affair with the artist."

Morgan-le-Fay (1864). Anthony F. A. Sandys. Birmingham Art Gallery. Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

01 June 2009

The Magdalen Legend

David Mycoff has an analysis of the legend of the Magdalene in the introduction to his translation of the Pseudo-Rabanus Life of St. Mary Magdalene and her sister St. Martha. I've divided the material into smaller paragraphs in the following quotation:

There are, then, five parts to this fully-developed Magdalen legend: the pre-ascension life; the story of the voyage to Marseilles; the account of the thirty-year solitude, death, and burial; and the post-burial miracles and translation of relics.

The pre-ascension life is the product of the patristic harmonizing of scattered scriptural passages which, in the view of the medieval Western Church, all pertained to Mary Magdalene. The earliest extant text that assembles these patristic motifs into a single, concise, coherent narrative appears to be a tenth-century sermon on the Magdalen attributed to Saint Odo of Cluny (BHL 5439).[7]

Close in date is a legend, titled by the prominent scholar of the Magdalen legend and cult, Victor Saxer, Vita apostolica Mariae Magdalenae, [8] which tells of the Magdalen's voyage to Marseilles and her career in Gaul, omitting the stories of the prince of Marseilles and the thirty year seclusion.

The remote source of the account of Mary's solitude is the legend of Mary of Egypt, first told in the Life of Cyriacus by Cyril of Scythopolis. [9] By the ninth century, the Egyptian's story had been adapted for Mary Magdalene in a piece titled by Saxer, Vita eremitica Mariae Magdalenae (BHL 5453-5456). [10]

The Vita apostolica and Vita eremetica were conflated into a single piece to form Vita apostolico-eremitica (BHL 5443-5448), [11] apparently in the eleventh century during the resurgence of Western eremiticism that began in northern Italy.

Another composite piece, Vita evangelico-apostolica (BHL 5450) [12] assembles the pre-ascension material of Odo's sermon with the post-ascension material of Vita apostolico-eremitica, abbreviating the account of the contemplative retreat.


[7]. Printed in Acta Sanctorum, July V: 218-221; also in PL 133: 713-721 with variants in accidentals.

[8]. Étienne-Michel Faillon, Monuments inédits sur l'apostolat de sainte Marie-Madeleine en Provence . . . , 2 vols. (Paris, 1848), calls this the 'Ancienne Vie' of Mary Magdalene and prints it in vol. II, pp. 433-436.

[9]. J. Misrahi, 'A vita Sanctae Mariae Magdalenae . . . ,' Speculum 18 (1943) 335-337 and Sr Benedicta Ward, Miracles and the Medieval Mind (Philadelphia: Univ. Penna. Press, 1982) p. 260, n. 65.

[10]. Edited by Misrahi, ibid., pp. 335-339.

[11]. Faillon considers the part drawn from Vita eremitica an addition and prints it in Mon. inéd., II; 445-451

[12]. Printed by Faillon, Mon. inéd., II; 437-445, with the title 'Vie Anonyme Sainte Marie-Madeleine'.