Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Whatever Happened to Mary Magdalene?

Today is the feast day of Mary Magdalene, who has had much publicity due to the Da Vinci Code. Whatever became of her?

Legend has it that in the year 42 AD, a little boat landed in what became Les Saintes-Marie-de-la-Mer, France It had no oars, having been caught in a storm. Mary was in the boat as Lazarus the and St. Maximin. According to a document, written around 100 years later, Mary and St. Maximin moved to Aix-en-Provence. Mary lived on a hill now named La Sainte-Baume, and when she died she was buried in the church at St. Maximin. In 745 her relics were moved to V├ęzelay. In 1279 King Charles II found that new shrine which had inscribed on it a note of why the relics had been moved. He built La Sainte-Baume convent on the hill. In 1600, Clement VIII had the relics put into two stone coffins - one for the body and one for the head. The French Revolution destroyed many sacred locations, and in 1814 they restored La Sainte-Baume convent.

The head of Saint Mary Magdalene now lies there, where it has been the centre of so many pilgrimages. Her skull is displayed on an altar. It is in a rather curious container, as you can see by the photos.

Personally, I find it rather disturbing. It's a bust of a woman, made of solid gold, with a space to display the skull.