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Vassallo: Mary Magdalene Rediscovered

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Al Price has gone the extra mile in sharing his knowledge and experiences in determining who this incredible lady was and what she means today to Christians worldwide. His story is fascinating and most informative!

HottyToddy.com: Al, give our readers a concise bio and where you reside currently.

Al Price: Retired professor of sociology and gerontology from the University of Memphis, U-T (Martin) and Jackson State Community College. Also worked ten years in various areas of mental health and 55 years in church ministry. Live in Henderson, Tennessee, but originally from Mississippi.  

HottyToddy.com: Your interest in Mary Magdalene is unusual as to the degree you have pursued your research. What prompted this?

Al Price: As a result of the popularity of Dan Brown’s book and subsequent Hollywood movie, there was a significant amount of negative misinformation coming from the pulpits of many churches. I wanted to know more about the life of Mary Magdalene. So, after reading everything I could find, my son and I conducted a research study by visiting the South of France in the summer of 2007.

HottyToddy.com: Describe the cave in the south of France where your journey led you in finding the truth about Mary Magdalene.

Al Price: The legends there stated that she spent the last half of her life in a grotto on the side of the St. Baume mountains in the Nans les Pins area in the Provence District. Even though little of this in known in America, it is actually one of the most venerated religious pilgrimage sites in the world. To be where she lived, prayed and taught gave us an indescribable feeling of profound awe. 

HottyToddy.com: The flowing water found there apparently has healing powers. Your thoughts?

Al Price: The path up the mountain, called the Chemin des Rois, is where we came to “Mary Magdalene’s spring”–water flowing from a rock. Our guide told us that cures and healing had been reported at that spot. Indeed, the atmosphere there was full of solemnity with no one speaking above a whisper.

HottyToddy.com: What does Magdalene actually mean?

Al Price: Luke 8:3 refers to “Mary who was called Magdalene.” Contrary to common opinion, it was a title given to her years after she lived. It was taken from the Hebrew word Migdal edor, meaning tower of the flock. In Micah 4:8, the word is used in reference to Jerusalem. The church was asserting that she was a great figure, the tower of the flock. 

HottyToddy.com: Why do you believe she occupied such a special place in the life of Jesus?

Al Price: When the text says that she was possessed with seven demons, it meant that her affliction was the worst of the worst. Demon possession in those days probably referred to some form of mental illness or epilepsy. When Jesus cast them out, and her mind was clear for the first time, she gave herself completely to his ministry and service. 

HottyToddy.com: You mentioned that Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene could possibly be the same person. Why so?

Al Price: Early Christian writers and others believed they were the same, such as Tertullian, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, Bernard, and Thomas Aquinas. John 11:2 and 12:3 identify Mary of Bethany as the one who anointed Jesus, and a close examination of John 12:7, Mark 16:1 and John 20:1 seems to indicate that she was the “ointment bearer.” This is also consistent with the legend of Mary Magdalene we found in the South of France.

HottyToddy.com: What took Mary Magdalene to France following the Ascension?

Al Price: The legends are quite clear on this: A group of disciples from the ministry of Christ–Mary Jacobe, Mary Salome, Lazarus, Martha, Mary Magdalene, Sidonius, and a 12-year old Egyptian servant girl named Sarah–were put in an old boat without oars to perish in the sea (as a part of the persecution of Christians following the resurrection). Instead, the boat drifted all the way to France in 42 C.E.

HottyToddy.com: Is there any evidence that Jesus continued to communicate with Mary Magdalene after establishing his kingdom in Heaven?

Al Price: One view is that she deliberately spent her time in the cave alone, engaged in what some today call “contemplative spirituality.” When she died, it is said that Yeshua sent angels to escort her to heaven.

HottyToddy.com: Our Associate Rector describes Mary Magdalene as the Apostle to the Apostles. Was she accepted by the twelve?

Al Price: This is what she was called by Hippolytus of Rome in the third century and later by others because she was the one commissioned by Jesus to make the greatest announcement the world had known: the Savior had risen from the grave.

Upon hearing her news, the text says “her words appeared to them (the Apostles) as nonsense” (Luke 24:11). The Nag Hammadi manuscript The Gospel of Phillip states there was jealousy and consternation among the apostles because they believed Jesus loved her more than them. In the non-canonical Gospel of Mary, Peter refuses to believe that Jesus would give her (a woman) special teaching.

HottyToddy.com: What was Mary Magdalene’s greatest legacy to mankind?

Al Price: She was by far the greatest example of love and loyalty than any of the early disciples.

HottyToddy.com: My bucket list just enlarged by one. How would one travel to reach Mary Magdalene’s final home?

Al Price: First, read up on the following: the town of Les Saintes-Maries-de-lar-Mer (the place where the boat without oars landed); the Saint Baume Mountains (where her grotto was located); and the town of St. Maximin (where her bones are stored in an ossuary in a crypt below the floor of the Basilica of Mary Magdalene). Second, secure the services of a guide who is familiar with the sites who speaks both English and French and who can get you from point A to point B easily and quickly. Third, fly into the Marseille airport to begin your journey.

HottyToddy.com: What was the biggest surprise you uncovered from your research?

Al Price: What was unexpected by us was how much she is ingrained in the culture of the Provence District where she is the patron saint. And how often we saw the image of the boat without oars.

HottyToddy.com: You have produced a 60-minute power point presentation on this fascinating subject. For any group wishing to see it, how best to reach out to you?

Al Price: E-mail: ccreb@bellsouth.net. Phone: 731/989-9090.

Al is a prime example of someone having a quest for knowledge and the truth. A modern day Indiana Jones, individuals like Al intrigue me to the highest level as they will explore their subject of interest nonstop until reconciling the mystery with the facts.

Steve Vassallo

Steve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at sovassallo@gmail.com or call him at 985-852-7745.

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