The Tarnished Story of Mary Magdalene

Mary of Magdala and the Risen Lord
Mary of Magdala and the Risen Lord

This past summer I obtained the 1930 POETRY OF THE VICTORIAN PERIOD. This excellent book of 1112 pages is chock-full of literary gems.

One of the poems by Dante Gabriel Rossetti is the following:

Mary Magdalene at the Door of Simon the Pharisee

“WHY wilt thou cast the roses from thine hair?
Nay, be thou all a rose,—wreath, lips, and cheek.
Nay, not this house,—that banquet-house we seek;
See how they kiss and enter; come thou there.
This delicate day of love we two will share
Till at our ear love’s whispering night shall speak.
What, sweet one,—hold’st thou still the foolish freak?
Nay, when I kiss thy feet they’ll leave the stair.”
“Oh loose me! Seest thou not my Bridegroom’s face
That draws me to Him? For His feet my kiss,
My hair, my tears He craves to-day:—and oh!
What words can tell what other day and place
Shall see me clasp those blood-stained feet of His?
He needs me, calls me, loves me: let me go!”

For a number of centuries Mary Magdalene has been identified as the sinful woman who washed her Master’s feet with expensive oil, her tears and hair. Of course in the Gospels this caused a stir of condemnation and commentaries about how inappropriate this was.

However, the Gospels have a number of women named Mary and unnamed. Whenever Mary Magdalene is mentioned it is clear who she is—the woman who had seven demons exorcised by her Master.

As the Way became a formalized institution, these seven demons of Mary Magdalene became associated with the 7 Deadly Sins: pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth. However, the lust became her mantra and she was viewed as a prostitute.

If examined very carefully the Gospels dispel this false labeling of the woman who supported the ministry of her master and stood by him as his male disciples fled in terror, except for John, the youngest of the 12. Mary Magdalene was there supporting the mother of her Master and the other women.

As that terrible Friday afternoon ended, Mary Magdalene and the other women spent a sorrowful Sabbath mourning. The Sabbath as a day of joy was a day of agony for these women as the disciples hid behind closed doors.

Whatever her relationship was before the death of her Master remains a source of speculation. However, on that early Sunday morning after the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene was chosen for a special task.

She was the first witness of the newly risen Teacher of Galilee. She became the first evangelist, ordained by her Master, to tell others of what she had seen early in the morning on that first day of the week. This she did until she faded from the confines of this earth.

The women, especially Mary Magdalene, who figured so prominently of that first Easter weekend, are not mentioned in the New Testament except in the Gospels. One has to wonder why.

In the links below Mary Magdalene’s history is explored. Some answers are given why her name has been slandered for centuries by the church elders—both Catholic and Protestant.

G. D. Williams © 2015

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Dante Gabriel Rossetti (May 12, 1828-April 9, 1882)

Mary Magdalene