July 22, 2008

Feast Day of Mary Magdalene

Luke 8:2-3 Mary Magdalene is mentioned as one of the women who "ministered to Him [Jesus] of their substance". The same passage also refers briefly to an act of exorcism performed on her, on an occasion when seven demons were cast out. These women, who earlier "had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities", later accompanied Jesus on his last journey to Jerusalem (Matthew 27:55; Mark 15:41; Luke 23:55) and were witnesses to the Crucifixion. Mary remained there until the body was taken down and laid in a tomb prepared for Joseph of Arimathea. In the early dawn of the first day of the week Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; Gospel of Peter 12), came to the sepulchre with sweet spices to anoint the body. They found the sepulchre empty but saw the "vision of angels" (Matthew 28:5). As the first witness to the empty tomb, Mary Magdalene went to tell Simon Peter and "the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved" (John 20:1–2) (gaining her the epithet "apostle to the apostles"), and again immediately returned to the sepulchre. She remained there weeping at the door of the tomb. According to John she was the first witness of the Resurrection appearances of Jesus, though at first she did not recognize him. When he said her name she was recalled to consciousness, and cried, Rabboni. She wanted to cling to him, but he forbade her: John 20:17 "Jesus said to her, 'Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, "I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God."'"

This is a First order Relic of Mary Magdalene from Rome.
It contains a small piece of bone, and Reads: S. Mariae Magd.
Here is a further explanation of Holy Relics.

There are three sorts of relics: relics of the first order, which are often bones of a saint; of the second order, which are possessions of the saint; and of the third order, which are objects that came into contact with first-order relics.

There's not much evidence of when people first started making relics from the bodies and possessions of holy people, but theologians and historians have some ideas about it. They agree that it is a practice as old as the Catholic Church itself -- probably even older, says George Worgul Jr., professor of theology at Duquesne University. Humans have a sense of being connected to one another that is broken by death, Worgul said. Retaining a lock of hair or a bit of bone helps people hold on to that person.

In the Catholic tradition, the idea of maintaining a physical link to a dead person fused with the concept of saints and martyrs -- people who led such exemplary lives that at death they entered into full communion with God in heaven. The worthiness of a dead person for sainthood could be demonstrated by the miraculous healings connected with remains.

Today: Green

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