Sunday, May 16, 2021

Vassallo: In Search of Mary, the Magdalene

(All images courtesy Dr. Price)
All images courtesy Dr. Al Price.

One recent cold, rainy February night, Dr. Al Price and his lovely wife, Josephine, arrived in Oxford to share with a community group gathered at the Church of Christ on North Lamar who the most mysterious lady of all time probably was.

Although we’ll never know for sure, this modern day Indiana Jones opened our eyes in a way that history has failed to do. Here are several key excerpts from that incredible evening that I took away from one of the best presentations I have ever encountered:

  • There is much evidence that Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene are one and the same!
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  • Jesus rid Mary Magdalene of her seven demons. For this act, she was forever loyal to Christ and devoted beyond human comprehension.
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  • There were seven women at the Cross plus the apostle John: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, Mary the mother of James and Joses, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Jocobe, and Mary Salome.
    Mary was a popular name in the first century because one of Herod’s wives was highly regarded and named Mariamne.
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    This is Bysantine Master painting of Mary Magdalene from the 13th century in the Gallery of the Academie, Florence, Italy. Her hair covers her entire body. The writing says, "Do not despair, you who are accustomed to sinning. Like me, reconcile yourself to God" reflecting the belief of the time that she was a reformed prostitute. The scenes depicted: (1) The sinner at Jesus' feet. (2) Resurrection of Lazarus. (3) Jesus' appearance to her after the resurrection. (4) Her teaching at Marseille. (5) At the St. Baume mountain. (6) Being fed by angels. (7) Taking communion. (8) Her funeral.
    This is Bysantine Master painting of Mary Magdalene from the 13th century in the Gallery of the Academie, Florence, Italy. Her hair covers her entire body. The writing says, “Do not despair, you who are accustomed to sinning. Like me, reconcile yourself to God” reflecting the belief of the time that she was a reformed prostitute. The scenes depicted: (1) The sinner at Jesus’ feet. (2) Resurrection of Lazarus. (3) Jesus’ appearance to her after the resurrection. (4) Her teaching at Marseille. (5) At the St. Baume mountain. (6) Being fed by angels. (7) Taking communion. (8) Her funeral.

  • Mary Magdalene was the sister of Martha and Lazarus, friends of Jesus where he spent much time at their home. In the anointing story, Mary Magdalene is believed to have dried the feet of Jesus with her long flowing hair.
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  • The number seven in Greek Gematria represented the highest order of a set or belief.
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  • Following the resurrection of Christ, Christians were not safe. Safe havens of the world included Alexandria in Egypt, Asia Minor, the Far East, Spain and Gaul (the south of France).
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  • Mary Magdalene, Mary Jacobe, Mary Salome, Martha, Lazarus, Sarah (a 12-year-old Egyptian servant girl), Sidonius (a blind man healed by Jesus) and perhaps Maximus (one of the 72 disciples sent out) were placed in a boat without oars by the Romans to perish on the Mediterranean Sea. However, thanks to the providence of God, the boat found its way to southern France where Christianity found its roots. The boat without oars is symbolized throughout southern France in numerous historical and religious buildings, churches and shrines.
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  • The famous exodus from Palestine and landing in the south of France occurred around 42 C.E. The actual landing site was an outpost village that is today called Les Saintes Maries de la Mer. Mary Jacobe was the wife of Clopas and possibly Jesus’ aunt, mother of James “the less,” stood near the cross, and brought spices for Jesus’ burial. Mary Salome was the mother of the sons of Zebedee, mother of James “the greater,” who also stood near the cross and brought spices for Jesus’ burial.
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    Mary, the Magdalene Wooden statue in the chapel of Saint Louis d' Anjou in the Basilica of Mary Magdalene,  Saint Maximin la Sainte Baume, South of France.
    Mary, the Magdalene
    Wooden statue in the chapel of Saint Louis d’ Anjou in the Basilica of Mary Magdalene, Saint Maximin la Sainte Baume, South of France.

  • In the year 590 C.E. Bishop Gregory proclaimed Mary Magdalene as a prostitute, one that Jesus had forgiven. This false narrative may have been conspired to elevate Mary, the mother of Jesus, and to lessen the importance of Mary Magdalene in the eyes of the church. This belief was eventually erased, however, and it took until 1966, almost a thousand years later, before the truth was recognized.
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  • Mary Magdalene’s feast day is July 22. Her remains were discovered in 1448 C.E. Legend has it that Mary Magdalene taught large crowds who frequently came to the St. Baume Mountain, which has become a pilgrimage site for Christians worldwide starting in 414 C.E. The legend says that angels transported Mary Magdalene from her grotto to the zenith of the mountain where she could hear the heavenly chorus.
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  • One footnote: the name Magdalene had nothing to do with the town in Galilee named Magdala after 70 C.E. It was a title probably taken from the Hebrew word Migdal edor meaning “tower of the flock,” a term given to towers built by shepherds to watch over their flock. The term indicated that Mary Magdalene was a great lady, a tower of strength.
  • mm albaster

    I could go on for many, many more paragraphs, but I’ll end on this note: Mary Magdalene may have been the greatest example of love and loyalty to Jesus described in the New Testament. While others fled, she was there at the cross, arrived at the garden while it was dark on the resurrection morning, and commissioned by Jesus to make the greatest announcement the world had ever heard, that Christ had risen from the grave. Whoever this lady truly was, her importance cannot be underestimated or downplayed!

    Dr. Price provided scripture references, far too many to list here. His power point presentation was so enlightening and powerful, I have asked him to return from Henderson, Tennessee one more time to share his research, travels and general knowledge on this subject with the poorly educated, such as myself. This retired professor of sociology opened my eyes and heart in such a way, that all who attended that dreary night were truly blessed and inspired.


    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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