See Mary Magdalene.
Mary Magdalene (probably so called from Magdala, a town of Galilee), a woman mentioned by St, Luke (viii. 2) as "Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, ' among those who accompanied Jesus and " ministered unto him of their substance " (viii. 8). She is commonly supposed to be the same as the "woman, which was a sinner," of whom St. Luke previously relates (vii. 37, 38) that as Jesus sat at meat in the house of Simon the Pharisee she washed his feet with tears and wiped them with the hairs of her head, and anointed them; but there is no evidence of their identity. The supposition lias also been entertained that she is identical with Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus; but beyond the similarity of name, the affectionate devotion to JesusChrist which distinguished both, the fact that the sister of Martha also anointed the feet of Jesus, and the opinion of some of the early fathers, among whom is St. Gregory the Great, no foundation for it has been assigned. Origen discusses the opinion fully, and rejects it. Mary Magdalene stood by Jesus on the cross, and was present when Joseph of Arimathrea laid him in the sepulchre.
On the first day of the week she came early to the tomb, and finding it open ran and told Peter and John that they had "taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre " (John xx. 2). Returning to the place with these apostles, she saw "two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain'1 (xx. 12). Immediately afterward Christ himself appeared to her, and announced his approaching ascension. Of her subsequent life nothing is known, but it is the theme of numerous legends. The tradition that she passed the latter part of her life in penitential exercises in the desert was treated by Guido, Correggio, Canova, and many other great masters.