Mary Magdalene and the first easter egg

Mary Magdalene was one of the wealthy women who accompanied Jesus and the twelve disciples and supported his work financially. Jesus cast our seven demons from her (Luke 8:2). She was at the foot of the cross, remaining there with Mary the mother of Jesus and with John (the beloved disciple) when all the other disciples had run away. She was present at the entombment of Jesus (Matthew 27:61), was the first to visit the grave of Jesus after the Sabbath rest, arriving when it was still dark (John 20:1) and was the first to see the risen Jesus (John 20:14-16).

The tradition within the church is that she went to Rome, where she may be the Mary mentioned by Paul (Romans 16:6). In the Orthodox Church, Mary Magdalene is called Myrrhbearer and Equal of the Apostles, recognising her role as an apostle. The icon at left is a modern icon by the Franciscan friar Robert Lentz. This image is available at Trinity Stores, from which the following text is taken

After the Ascension, Mary Magdalene journeyed to Rome where she was admitted to Tiberias Caesar’s court because of her high social standing. After describing how poorly Pilate had administered justice at Jesus’ trial she told Caesar that Jesus had risen from the dead. To help explain the resurrection, she picked up an egg from the dinner table. Caesar responded that a human being could no more rise from the dead than the egg in her hand turn red. The egg turned red immediately, which is why red eggs have been exchanged at Easter for centuries in the Byzantine East.

This icon was commissioned for Grace Cathedral in San Francisco to commemorate the election of Barbara Harris, the first woman bishop in the Anglican communion.

The inscription at the bottom of the icon reads: “St. Mary Magdalene” in Syriac, a dialect of the language spoken by Jesus. The Gospel comes to us, not from Rome or Greece, but from the deserts of the Middle East. We owe our faith to Semetic Christians like Mary Magdalene. With this debt in mind, we should hear her voice in Palestinian cries for justice in our day.


~ by scalambra on March 25, 2011.

One Response to “Mary Magdalene and the first easter egg”

  1. I’m told that a red egg is depicted on a wall mural at Norwich Cathedral and elsewhere, is it the self-same Mary Magdalene connection at work here?

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