I would like to introduce to you Elizabeth whom I first met in July 2013, as she was one of the pilgrims who flew from Virginia to the South of France for the first Novena Tour of PROVENCE to Saint Mary Magdalene which took place over the Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene (July 22nd).
Elizabeth wrote to me in 2013 in advance of the Novena Tour about her fondness for Sainte Marie-Madeleine. She said her mother was born in Villefranche-sur-Mer, a commune in the Provence-Alpes-Côtes d’Azur region on the French Riviera, and was raised in Toulon. Elizabeth had visited her mother’s French family in Toulon many summers as a child and had heard of the tradition of Christianity’s arrival in France. She confessed she had been “absorbed by her story for some time.” Elizabeth is married and has two daughters.
At the time Elizabeth was studying to make temporary promises with a Third Order Carmelite community in Virginia. They are practicing members of the Catholic Church, under the protection of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and inspired by St. Theresa and St. John of the Cross, who make a commitment to the Carmel Order to seek the face of God for the sake of the Church and the World.
2013 Novena Tour – Elizabeth is fourth from the left with the other pilgrims inside the Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine in the town of St. Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume just after the Feast Day Mass. Behind the group in the center and just in front of the main altar is the skull of Sainte Marie-Madeleine in a gold reliquary.
In Elizabeth’s May 2014 letter to the Secular Order Of The Discalced Carmelites she explains:
“I chose to take the name:
Elizabeth of Sainte Marie-Madeleine
Why have I chosen her? She is a recipient of His great mercy, adorer at the foot of Christ, steadfast disciple during the agony of the crucifixion, companion of the Blessed Mother, first chosen among all to witness the Resurrection, called Apostle to the Apostles, evangelizer to the Gentiles and patron saint of contemplative life, Provence, France, etc. What an amazing role model! I have had a relationship with her for some time now and would like to share her participation in the life of the early Church with you on an attached document. Her example at the end of her earthly life inspires me to seek the interior castle as Saint Teresa, our foundress, has described.
With great zeal, I intend to continue on this journey toward God: to do His will, to pray for the Church, to imitate Mary, to seek the contempletive life and to share in love and service with the Community of St. Joseph. If you feel I am ready for this next step then, I humbly ask that you consider my request to make the First Promise.
2014 Novena Tour – Again Elizabeth returns to St. Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume with her friend Susan whom she met on the 2013 Novena Tour, but this time the two of them are there to attend the Adoratio2014 “Divine Mercy and Eucharistic Adoration” at the school of Mary Magdalen organized by Fr. Florian Racine and the Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist. Elizabeth is on the right.
2014 Feast Day Mass – Elizabeth (second from the left) is there again for Sainte Marie-Madeleine’s Feast Day Mass and all the festivities along with the Feast Day Procession through the streets of the town. Her good local friends Norbert & Veronique Flayol (a Novena Tour guide) are dressed in Provençal dress for the occasion – both members of the Association of Santo Madaleno. I am in the center and Susan is on the right.
Yesterday I received an e-mail from Elizabeth of Sainte Marie-Madeleine – the Carmelites had accepted her name choice.Elizabeth told me she wrote another version of her devotion to Sainte Marie-Madeleine which she read during their Carmelite Christmas event.
“Who is she this Sainte Marie-Madeleine and why did I choose her?
She is a recipient of His great mercy, adorer at the foot of Christ, steadfast disciple during the agony of the crucifixion, companion of the Blessed Mother, first chosen among all to witness the resurrection, called Apostle to the Apostles, evangelizer to the Gentiles and patron saint of contemplative life, Provence, France, etc. What an amazing role model! I have had a relationship with her for some time now. Her example at the end of her earthly life inspires me to seek the interior castle as Saint Teresa, our foundress, has described.
Marie-Madeleine has been misunderstood for centuries thanks to a pope in need of a homily on sin 1500 years ago. Pope Gregory in 591 was responsible for her shameful reputation, which the Church cleared officially in 1969. All of the stories of a marriage with Christ, or the sacred feminine etc, are false and not part of Catholic tradition. Her feast day is celebrated by both the Roman and Orthodox Catholic Churches on July 22.
Mary Magdalene is a unique figure in Scripture. Even her name is unusual; unlike many of the other women who devoted themselves to following Jesus Christ, she is not linked by name to any of her male relatives. Christ’s female disciples were often identified by their relationship to sons and husbands, such as “Mary the mother of James and Joseph” (Mt. 27:56) and “Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza” (Lk. 8:3). It is unclear why the evangelists wrote that Mary was “called Magdalene.” She may have been born in Magdala, a town near Tiberius that was known for its immorality, or perhaps lived there for a time. Her name is listed among the faithful Galilean women who traveled with Christ while He proclaimed the Kingdom of God (cf. Lk. 8:1-3), and she remained with Him until His death and burial.
The most magnificent story about Mary, however, is told at the end of all four Gospels. After Jesus’ burial, Mary rested on the Sabbath according to the law and waited until early Sunday morning to anoint Jesus’ body, which she expected to find in the tomb. Her sorrow turned into joy when she realized that His body had not been stolen, but that Christ had risen from the dead. She eagerly went to embrace Him, but Jesus gave her a mission: She was to proclaim the good news to the other disciples. Hippolytus (early Church Father and pupil of St. Irenaeus) wrote in the third century that Mary Magdalene’s role in announcing the Resurrection to the Twelve made her an “Apostle to the Apostles,” meaning she was a sent or commissioned messenger.
According to Scripture, we know with certainty that Mary Magdalene followed Christ, ministered to the needs of His Apostles during His public ministry (cf. Lk. 8:3), witnessed Jesus’ death and burial on Good Friday (cf. Mk. 15:40-41), and saw the resurrected Lord on Easter Sunday morning (cf. Jn. 20:1-18). However, Christians recognize that there is more to Mary’s identity as Jesus’ follower. The Catholic Church has traditionally taught that Mary Magdalene is the sinful woman who anoints Christ’s feet with her tears in Luke 7:36-50, and also Mary of Bethany (the sister of Martha and Lazarus). My favorite story is Luke 10:38-42.
Martha and Mary*
38 “As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.
39 *She had a sister named Mary [who] sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.
40 Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.”
41 The Lord said to her in reply, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
42 *There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”
Tradition of the Church
Marie-Madeleine’s discipleship continues after the Resurrection and Pentecost. She travels to France eventually with her sister, Martha, and brother, Lazarus and others. After years of evangalizing she is called to live her last 30 years on this earth in silent contemplation with her Lord in a grotto at Sainte Baume, France. The details of the Church’s devotion to her are many and more information may be found at the websites listed below.
Her feast day is a huge celebration in southern France every year where her relics are carried through the streets. Her grotto in Sainte Baume is a place of pilgrimage and conversion. The Dominicaines continue to protect it today.
Like all saints, Mary Magdalene’s experience of Christ is a great example for all to imitate. Her role as a disciple and witness to Jesus makes her a powerful intercessor on our behalf. A model of repentance, conversion, obedience, contemplation, adoration and faithfulness, she is a fitting patroness for those who have strayed and come back to the Church-sinful and sorrowful, longing for the love of Christ.
Elizabeth of Sainte Marie-Madeleine”