The daily Mass for this Saturday is in honor of St. Mary Magdalene. “Magdalene” refers to her native city, Magdala, on the Sea of Galilee. On my first trip to Israel in 1978 and my second in 2008 Magdala was pointed out to us, but we did not visit it because “there was nothing to see.” The sight had never been excavated by archaeologists.
By the time of our parish pilgrimage in 2015 everything had changed. The city had been excavated and a beautiful Church had been built in Mary’s honor (see below).
Frequently Mary Magdalene has been portrayed as a great sinner who became a most loyal disciple of Jesus. She has been identified as the woman who washed the feet of Jesus as she wept for her sins. Yet there is no real reason for identifying this woman as Mary Magdalene. All that the Gospel’s say about her past is that she had been freed of possession by Jesus.
Later in her life Mary was the first to see the risen Christ, in the garden near the tomb. She went on to share this good news with the Apostles. For this reason she is sometimes referred to as the “Apostle to the Apostles.”