THE CHURCH of Rome bears much of the responsibility for
the present Mary Magdalene hysteria and it is worth reviewing the reasons in
more detail than was possible in our first article.
has declared Mary the mother of our Lord to have been immaculately conceived,
preserved from sin in life, and assumed bodily into heaven, making her the
perfect woman rather than a sinner saved by grace. As one Catholic girl
quipped, “We grew up to believe she ran heaven”.
fostered the idea that virginity was the highest state and that sexuality was
somehow defiled. As a result ordinary Roman Catholic women can feel a sense of
inferiority, even guilt, as they face the realities of their own burdensome
lives lurching from pregnancy to pregnancy at the behest of demanding men. Many
traditionally fostered this consciousness of defilement in the confessional
with their explicitly detailed pornographic manuals for confessors, such as
that of Alfonso Maria di Liguori. Here the dubious sections traditionally
remain un‑translated from the Latin as being too shameful. Indeed these
manuals have often alerted innocent young women to vile practices which they
would not otherwise have encountered.
a result the Roman Catholic Church urgently needed a human, as opposed to a
super human, role model to set before its women. And what better than a really
depraved woman, a brazen hussy, indeed a hardened, devil possessed harlot who
wonderfully repented and totally reformed herself under the ministrations of
the Lord Jesus. Such an apparently attainable ideal might offer real hope
to ordinary Catholic womanhood.
there is no such character to be found in the Gospel stories. Undaunted, the
popes and theologians of Rome set about inventing one. And so the myth of Mary
Magdalene, the saved harlot, was born.
it was done
popes were key players in the “harlotization” of Mary Magdalene, though the
process began amongst the Latin Church Fathers. Pope Gregory I gave his seal of
approval in AD 591 when he took all the hints from the Latin fathers and
plainly stated the matter.
eastern churches, on the other hand, had carefully teased out three Mary’s from
Scripture. They took pains to distinguish the “sinner” of Luke 7:37‑50
from both Mary the sister of Martha (Luke 10:38‑42 and John 11) and Mary
Magdalene of Luke 8:2.
Pope Gregory, in the west, insisted that, “She whom Luke calls the sinful
woman, whom John calls Mary (of Bethany), we believe to be the Mary from whom
seven devils were ejected according to Mark”. (Mark 16:9)
is nothing in Scripture to indicate that Mary Magdalene was a harlot. Rome
created that myth by asserting that the seven devils from which Mary was
delivered were unclean spirits who drove Mary to depravity.
Magdalene and the woman who was a sinner are clearly differentiated in Scripture.
In Luke 7:50, which is the final verse of the chapter and the end of the
story, we read, “And he [Jesus] said to the woman [“the sinner”], Thy
faith hath saved thee; go in peace”.
next chapter, chapter 8, commences, “And it came to pass afterward, that he
[Jesus] went through every city and village, preaching and showing the glad
tidings of the kingdom of God”. Only then is Mary Magdalene introduced
ministering to him of her substance.
for Rome “the sinner” of Luke 7 is Mary Magdalene. The woman’s sins described
as “many” become Mary Magdalene’s sins. Then, solely by prurient innuendo, her
sins become sexual sins associated with her demonic possession.
clincher for Rome is that a “Mary” is found in John’s narrative
anointing Jesus feet (John 12:3). But it is noteworthy that this Mary who
anointed Christ is in the company of humble Martha and Lazarus and not, as Mary
Magdalene, with Joannna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and other
high class women. Nevertheless Rome insists that this is Mary Magdalene.
Mary Magdalene’s circle were wealthy enough to minister to Jesus of their
substance. For them, outlay on anointing perfume would hardly amount to an act
so selfless that Jesus declared it to be the woman’s memorial (Mark 14:9).
passing centuries and renaissance art, often commissioned by the popes
themselves, have done the rest to establish the Magdalene myth.
recent scandal in Dublin following the finding of 133 unmarked graves in a
Romanist convent, which had been one of the Magdalene Laundries where orphans
perceived as the outcome of sexual sin were forced to work in inhuman
conditions to redeem themselves, is just one tiny illustration of the terrible
fruit of this notion of Mary Magdalene the redeemed harlot in the Romanist
The Nag Hammadi Library
this view of Mary Magdalene was challenged soon after World War II with the
discovery in December 1945 of the Nag Hammadi library near the village of that
name three hundred miles south of Cairo. Seven Bedouin were engaged in
extracting fertiliser rich in nitrates in the Egyptian Nile valley when they
stumbled upon “a large earthenware jar, about two feet high with a bowl over
the top sealed with bitumen”. The jar contained not scrolls but thirteen
codices in leather pouches resembling books. The colourful events surrounding
the discovery included several murders before the works came to reside
peacefully in the Coptic museum in Cairo.
The Gospel of Philip
Nag Hammadi library contained a mixture of Christian and philosophical writings
including the Gospel of Philip. This apocryphal Gospel contains the
notorious text, “And the companion of the [...] Mary Magdalene. [...] loved her
more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her often on her [...]” The gaps
in the text are holes made by white ants.
Da Vinci Code, which is only a novel, contends that “any Aramaic
scholar will tell you, the word companion, in those days, literally meant
spouse”. But the document is not Aramaic but Coptic. Coptic scholars say
“companion” means simply “companion”. Any interested reader can follow all the
half truths and assumptions from the Da Vinci Code back to their
dubious source in R McL Wilson’s The Gospel of Philip published in 1962.
Nag Hammadi so‑called Gospels are poison from the fevered imagination of
Gnostic heretics who created a fleshly line of descendants of Jesus Christ and
his alleged wife, Mary Magdalene.
The Nag Hammadi find changed Mary Magdalene from a broken
prostitute into a grand aristocratic priestess and wife of Christ and bearer of
his priestly offspring, which fact Rome was supposed to be trying to cover up.
(Conspiracy theorists lean heavily on the idea of secret sinister Vatican cover
Leigh and Lincoln’s book Holy Blood Holy Grail setting forth this
new theory suited the feminist movement at that time when women were deserting
the confessional in droves. The traditional ethos of Mary Magdalene the
redeemed whore was discard in favour of this even less likely idea that she was
a priestess, and Christ’s wife, and mother of His children.
The Sermon of Gregory the Great
33 is recorded in Homiliarian in evangelia, Lib. 11, Patrologia Latina, vol.
76 (Puris: J.-P Migne, 1844‑1864), cols. 1238‑1246.
believe that this woman [Mary Magdalen] is Luke’s female sinner, the woman John
calls Mary, and that Mary from whom Mark says seven demons were cast out.” (“Hanc
vero quam Lucas peccatricem mulierem, Joannes Mariam nominal, illam else Marian
credimus de qua Marcus septem damonia ejecta fuisse testator”)
seven demons Gregory identified as “all the vices” (“Et quid per septem
daemonia, nisi universa vitia designantur?”) by which he means the seven so‑called
cardinal sins (including lust, which was understood as inordinate or illicit
sexual desire). The seven cardinal sins: were first grouped as such by Gregory.
The passages mentioning Christ’s casting out of the seven devils from Mary
Magdalene are in Luke 8, 13, and Mark 16, 9.
then complained that the ointment used by Luke’s unnamed sinner, now Mary
Magdalen, to anoint Christ’s feet had previously been used by her “to perfume
her flesh in forbidden acts.” (“Liquet...quod ilicitus actibus prius mulier
intenta unguentum sibi pro odore suae carnis adhibuit”)
was Gregory who also associated her, again primarily through identification
with Luke’s unnamed sinner, as a penitent when he explained that by immolating
herself at the feet of Jesus, “she turned the mass of her crimes to virtues, in
order to serve God entirely in penance.” (“Convertit ad virtutum numerum
criminum, ut totum serviret Deo in poenitentia”)