Mary Magdalene’s image gets new look in modern age

This Easter - more than 2,000 years later - Mary Magdalene is getting a reputation overhaul.

The prominent Bible figure has long been seen as a sexualized contemporary of Jesus Christ, with depictions in Western art and pop culture like “Jesus Christ Superstar” and the Da Vinci Code leading many to assume she was a reformed prostitute at the time.

However, Mary Magdalene being a reformed prostitute is never explicitly mentioned in the Bible, and the Catholic Church has officially - since 1969 - agreed that’s not the case.

Pope Francis has gone so far as to declare a feast day in Magdalene’s honor, occurring each year on June 22. 

“By doing this, he established the absolute equality of Mary Magdalene to the apostles, something that has never been done before” says the editor of the Vatican’s “Women’s Church World” magazine.

28 PHOTOS
Depictions of Mary Magdalene
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Depictions of Mary Magdalene
Crucifixion statue depicting Mary Magdalene holding Jesus Christ.
Prague, Czech Republic - April 2, 2016: Stained Glass window in St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague, depicting Mary Magdalen anointing Christâs feet
Enthroned Madonna and Child. Enthroned Madonna and Child with Mary Magdalene, Saints John the Baptist, Cosmas, Damian, Francis of Assisi and Catherine of Alexandria Painted by Alessandro Botticelli circa 1470. RF CD: Botticelli
13004.JPG |antique|black|book|center|color|devotion|di cosimo|fototeca storica nazionale|frame|gold|hair|interior|italian|italian fine art|magdalene|mary|mary magdalene|oil|painting|person|piero|portrait|read|reading|red|religion|renaissance|vertical|VS13|woman|art|cosimo|fine|V13|VOL13|13004.JPG|
Master of Female Half Lengths (16th century), Mary Magdalene, tempera on panel, 55x42 cm. (Inv. 48). Copyright Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana.
Italy, Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, 171x125 cm
Mary Magdalene, detail from the stories of Mary Magdalene, fresco, Chapel of the Barons of Cly (ca 1576), Aosta cathedral, Valle d' Aosta, Italy.
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Francesco Hayez (1791-1882), Mary Magdalene, 1831, oil on canvas, 59x49 cm. (Inv. 349). Copyright Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana.
Copy after Bernardino Luini (1480-1532), Saint Mary Magdalene, oil on canvas, 58x46 cm. (Inv. 404). Copyright Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana.
black and white photo of Mary, Mary Magdalene and Joseph of Jesus Christ
Carlo Francesco Nuvolone (1608-1662), Mary Magdalene, 1640-1660, oil on canvas, 135x99 cm. (Inv. 217). Copyright Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana.
Europe, France, Var (83), Sainte Baume, sanctuaire de Sainte-Marie-Madeleine
USSR - CIRCA 1971: A Stamp printed in USSR shows the "Penitent Mary Magdalene", by Titian (1488/1490-1576), from the series "Foreign master works in Russian museums", circa 1971
Italy, Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, 98x78 cm
Europe, France, Var (83), Sainte Baume, sanctuaire de Sainte-Marie-Madeleine
Mary Magdalene washing Jesus' feet, detail from the stories of Mary Magdalene, fresco, Chapel of the Barons of Cly (ca 1576), Aosta cathedral, Valle d' Aosta, Italy.
Photolibrary RM
Part two of stained glass window Mary Magdalene at the cathedral Notre-Dame, Chartres. This window is one of the row lower windows at the south aisle of the church.The window is made in the 13 th century
Christ meeting Mary Magdalene, sculptures from St Mary Magdalene chapel, Chateau d'Etelan, Saint-Maurice-d'Etelan, Upper Normandy. France.
Detail from Stories of Mary Magdalene, fresco by Giovanni da Milano (active from 1346 to 1369), Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence. Italy, 14th century.
Event in the life of St Mary Magdalene, 1663 fresco by Federico Bianchi (1638-1719), first chapel on the left, Certosa di Pavia. Italy, 17th century.
Stories of Mary Magdalene, frescoes on the ceiling of the St Mary Magdalene Episcopal Chapel, by Giovanni Battista (1561- after 1627) and Giovanni Mauro della Rovere (1575-1640) known as the Fiammenghini, Vescovado, Novara, Piedmont, Italy.
Stories of Mary Magdalene, frescoes on the ceiling of the St Mary Magdalene Episcopal Chapel, by Giovanni Battista (1561- after 1627) and Giovanni Mauro della Rovere (1575-1640) known as the Fiammenghini, Vescovado, Novara, Piedmont, Italy.
St Mary Magdalene, fresco, San Martino Church (14th-15th century), Proceno, Lazio, Italy.
Saint Mary Magdalene, inlaid woodwork, 1468-1498, detail of the choir stalls, Certosa di Pavia (Pavia's Charterhouse), Lombardy, Italy.
Four saints of Quaratesi Polyptych, Saint Mary Magdalene, Saint Nicholas of Bari, Saint John the Baptist, and Saint George, 1425, by Gentile da Fabriano (ca 1370-1427), tempera on panel. Italy, 15th century.
Church of All Nations on the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, israel
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Widely believed to be the first person to proclaim Jesus’ resurrection, Magdalene is viewed by modern scholars as a woman of wealth and high social status, providing her ample time and resources to the cause of Christ and his apostles. 

A new film starring Rooney Mara aims to depict Mary Magdalene in this new light, though a release date in the U.S. hasn’t been set. 

“It takes a long time for serious scholarship to trickle down to the popular level,” says one leading religious scholar.

It would appear, slowly but surely, the Bible’s second-most famous Mary is finally proving there’s something about her, more than what we’ve come to believe.

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