Sunday, July 22, 2012

St. Mary Magdalen

St. Mary Magdalen in ecstasy.

Today is the traditional feast of St. Mary Magdalen, who happens to be another monastic archetype, and a favorite saint of mine.  Legend suggests the penitent ended her life at Sainte-Baume in Provence - not far from Marseilles.  The Sanctuaire Ste-Baume preserves the cave wherein the Magdalen supposedly spent the last part of her live.  I believe the site remains the custody of the Dominicans.  In the mid-1970's I visited there, at that time the Dominicans no longer believed the legends surrounding the saint.  I'm not sure anyone does today.

C'est dommage. Eh?


  1. I for one find such pious legends worthy of belief. What does it hurt to believe them? It's been my experience more often than not that many such pious legends/traditions stem from facts. Who is to say that St Mary Magdalene DIDNT actually come there (to Provence). It's not as though belief or disbelief of such pious legends are articles of faith. We live in an age of disbelief and not of faith. I have always been dismayed since childhood at the skepticism more often than not on the part of Churchmen toward such traditions. I myself had never heard of the tradition until reading National Geographic as a boy in the early 1970s. St Mary Magdalene is also one of my own patron saints.

    1. While I was there a couple of pilgrims wanted to buy me a souvenier, and I only allowed the smallest, cheapest medal of the Magdalen the gift shop had available. When I approached one of the Dominican priests assigned there, asking for a blessing - he refused telling me in French they no longer need to be blessed - that it was superstitious.. He also laughed that I believed the legends. I pretended to him that I had mental anxiety problems and begged him to bless the medal - he did so quickly and waved me off. I used to pretend the same thing to priests in confession who refused absolution for sexula sins they did not consider mortal. I wasn't lying - since I was anxious to be absolved, just as I was anxious to have the medal blessed. Anxiety is a mental condition, you see. :)

      I should write about this in my tell all book: Why I Stay Away From Priests and Religious People." That's a joke BTW.

  2. I find such dismissiveness among priests in particular to be scandalous. The conclusion I draw from such encounters is that the priest in question most likley no longer believes in many things...... I too have been to priests who told me in my sinfulness and confusion that everything was just fine. It's a great miracle of grace that I didn't lose my faith. I still marvel at that. What bothers me even more about this whole issue is that anyone would find such state of affairs to be normal. Jokes aside you REALLY should write a book.

  3. An Orthodox priest (orthodox orthodox, not extra-faithful by the book catholic), tells a story of a priest who had lost his faith. He continued to act as a priest until one day, after Consecration, there were bits of flesh and bone floating in blood. The next day he called his Bishop and told him he no longer believed. I don't know the name of the vessel, but Orthodox receive Body of Christ saturated with Blood of Christ, which is why he saw what he saw.


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