Have you seen all the Magdalene stories on the market? Disciple, preacher, witness, sinner, companion, mourner, sensualist – her image contains at least a dozen roles from which she can speak to the heart. My favorite is survivor.
Rarely has a woman been so dissed. I am amazed that in spite of the Catholic Church’s intense disapproval, disavowal and displeasure she survived as part of the Christian canon. It can only be that she was too popular to dismiss. Too many people knew her as an integral part of Christ’s story, a reknowned preacher or a beloved disciple.
Her credibility as an important player in Christ’s drama is evidenced by her survival. Something about her made such an impression that she has remained alive in our imaginations, in spite of every effort to discredit her, for over two thousand years. For many modern women seeking to legitimize their spiritual authority, she has become a symbol of reclamation. In a world gone mad from an undue emphasis on masculine values, people need icons, model, symbols, ancestors and ideals to guide them in the restoration of balance. Mary Magdalene is such a model.
As her popularity grows, stories of her proliferate. Many books deal with the young Magdalene, depicting her as priestess, wife, helpmate, counselor, mad woman and sacred prostitute. In my new book, Magdalene A.D., I choose to imagine her as a woman closer to my own age, a woman past menopause, stepping out from the shadow of “the greatest story ever told’ to write her own tale, find her own voice. But whatever circumstances we various authors imagine, Magdalene’s spirit comes through as wise, adventurous, courageous, intelligent and loyal. She is dedicated to the pursuit of wisdom in the interest of community; to love as a binding tool of relationship between humans.
Check out this interview with Kathleen McGowan, popular Magdalenian author, by the French television journalist Lilou as she speaks about the Magdalene tradition in France.