Mary MagdaleneMary Magdalene or Mary of Magdala, was one of Jesus' most celebrated disciples, and the most important female disciple in the movement of Jesus.

She became Jesus' close friend and most prominent during his last days, being present at the cross after the male disciples (excepting John the Beloved) had fled, and at his burial.

John Map Patmos

She was the first person to see Jesus after his Resurrection, according to both John 20 and Mark 16:9.

She is often depicted on icons bearing a vessel of ointment, not because of the anointing by the "sinful woman", but because she was among those women who brought ointments to the tomb of Jesus. For this reason, she is called a Myrrhbearer.

Mary Magdalene continued her preaching in Italy and in the city of Rome itself. The Apostle Paul mentions Mary (Mariam), saying she "has done much for us" (Romans 16:6).

According to Church tradition, she remained in Rome until the arrival of the Paul, and stayed for a further two years. From Rome, Mary, already bent with age, moved to Ephesus and worked with John and wrote the first 20 Chapters of his Gospel (John 1-9, John 10-20). There Mary died and was buried.

Her holy relics were transferred in the 9th Century to the capital of the Byzantine Empire - Constantinople, and placed in the monastery Church of Saint Lazarus. In the era of the Crusader campaigns they were transferred to Italy and placed at Rome under the altar of the Lateran Cathedral.











Part of the relics of Mary Magdalene are located in France near Marseilles, where a splendid church (Saint Maximum's bascilia) was built over them at the foot of a steep mountain in her honour.

Map of France  

There is a strong cult of Mary Magdalene in Provence, France.

According to legend, soon after the crucifixion and Resurrection, Mary Magdalene and her family were expelled from the Holy Land, set adrift on the Mediterranean Sea and made their way to Marseille, in Southern France.

Mary Magdalene's relics were first venerated at the abbey of Vézelay in Burgundy (marked on the map) - the transportation of the relics is entered as undertaken in 771 by the founder of the abbey, identified as Gerard, duke of Burgundy. In the chronicles of Sigebert of Gembloux (died 1112), he asserts that the relics were removed to Vézelay through fear of the Saracens. There is no record of their further removal to the other St-Maximin, and a casket of relics associated with Magdalene remains at Vézelay.

Since September 9, 1279, the purported body of Mary Magdalene was also venerated at Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume, Provence (just outside Marseille). This cult attracted such throngs of pilgrims that the earlier shrine was rebuilt as the great Basilica from the mid-13th century, one of the finest Gothic churches in the south of France.

The competition between the Cluniac Benedictines of Vézelay and the Dominicans of Saint-Maxime occasioned a rash of miraculous literature supporting one or the other site.

Painted Easter Eggs

MaryFor centuries, it has been the custom of many Christians to share dyed and painted eggs, particularly on Easter Sunday. The eggs represent new life, and Christ bursting forth from the tomb. Among Eastern Orthodox Christians this sharing is accompanied by the proclamation "Christ is risen!"

Tradition relates, that in Italy Mary Magdalene visited the Emperor Tiberias (14-37 AD) and proclaimed to him about Christ's Resurrection. According to tradition, she took him an egg as a symbol of the Resurrection, a symbol of new life with the words: "Christ is Risen!" Then she told Tiberias that, in his Province of Judea, Jesus the Nazarene, a holy man, a maker of miracles, powerful before God and all mankind, was executed on the instigation of the Jewish High-Priests and the sentence affirmed by the procurator Pontius Pilate. Tiberias responded that no one could rise from the dead, anymore than the egg she held could turn red. Miraculously, the egg immediately began to turn red as testimony to her words.

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.