Join us in celebrating the feast of our patron saint
Friday, Jul. 17, 2020
On July 22, the Diocese of Salt Lake City will celebrate the feast day of her patron, Saint Mary Magdalene, with a special Mass at the Cathedral of the Madeleine to give her due honor. What a great honor for our cathedral to be named after a great heroine of the Church.
On June 3, 2016, Pope Francis elevated the liturgical rank of the Memorial of Saint Mary Magdalene to a feast day in the general Church calendar. A new preface for the feast was promulgated. In the preface it states that Christ “appeared in the garden and revealed himself to Mary Magdalene, who had loved him in life, witnessed him dying on the Cross, sought him as he lay in the tomb, and was the first to adore him, newly risen from the dead. He honored her with the office of being an apostle to the Apostles, so that the good news of new life might reach the ends of the earth.”
It is very important to remind ourselves of the exemplary life of St. Mary Magdalene as a source of inspiration to imitate in our Christian life. In the New Testament, Mary Magdalene is mentioned as one of the women who accompanied Christ and ministered to him. Her personal encounter of Jesus, the promised Messiah and Savior of the world, was the occasion for her personal conversion.
In the Gospel, she was referred to as the sinful woman who washed and anointed the feet of Jesus (Luke 7:36-50). She had stood with the Blessed Mother at the foot of the Cross on that brutal Good Friday afternoon, and had been by the side of the Virgin Mary during these difficult hours (John 19:25; Matthew 27:55-57). On the early morning after Jesus’s death, she went to the tomb and was the first witness to whom Jesus preached the Good News of his Resurrection (Matthew 28:1–10; Mark 16:1–8; John 20:1–10). She also was the first to testify of the event before the apostles by running to share this Good News with others who had followed Christ, which they in turn would announce to all the world.
Mary Magdalene became known as the Apostle to the Apostles. St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor, “is right to apply the term, ‘apostolorum apostola,’ hence it is right that the liturgical celebration of this saintly woman should have the same level of festivity given to the apostles in the General Roman Calendar, so that the special mission of this woman be highlighted as an example and model to every woman in the Church” (Archbishop Arthur Roche, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments).
Saints are heroes of our Church, men and women like us who lived ordinary lives, but in an extraordinary Christian manner marked by their prayer and virtuous life, great love for God, holiness, fidelity to their vocation or calling, and perseverance in the midst of extreme challenges and sacrifice, even unto death in the name of their faith in God. They inspire us by their heroic lives and help us grow strong in our faith and relationship with God and with one another.
Our diocese is blessed to have St. Mary Magdalene as patroness of our local Church in Utah. Let us be reminded of her influencing role in our Christian life. There are three virtues that highlight the life of St. Mary Magdalene that can help us grow in our faith in God. Her encounter with Christ paved the way for her personal conversion of heart. Traditionally described as the sinful and penitent woman, she experienced God’s mercy, and the compassion and forgiveness of Christ, which changed her life completely. It teaches us that no sin is beyond the saving grace and mercy of God.
Her experience and recognition of God’s infinite mercy inspired her to devote herself to following Christ as a disciple – one who follows, listens, learns and obeys Christ and his teachings, even in trying times. The accompaniment of Christ in her life led her to be a true missionary disciple, one who is ready to proclaim the Gospel of God’s love and salvation to all people. “She has always been the example of great love and great forgiveness, one of those close to Jesus who grasped the truth of God’s love for human beings and spent her life bearing witness to that love.” (Rev. Clifford Stevens, The One Year Book of Saints).
St. Mary Magdalene is one of the greatest saints of our Catholic Church and a legendary example of God’s mercy and grace, worthy of our honor and imitation. I encourage everyone to develop a special devotion to our patroness on our faith journey. We are blessed to have our cathedral named in her honor and under her patronage. Our Cathedral of the Madeleine and the Basilica of Saint Maxim La Sainte Baume in France are the only cathedrals in the world holding the first-class relic of the saint and that are named in her honor. Our cathedral serves as the “mother church” of our diocese, and the only cathedral in the United States under the patronage of St. Mary Magdalene. So come join us in celebrating her feast with a Holy Mass at the Cathedral of the Madeleine on July 22, at 6 p.m.
St. Mary Magdalene, pray for us!