The Gospels say that Mary Magdalene was delivered by Jesus from seven demons, that she followed him and helped him with her resources (see Lk 8:1-2), that she was at the foot of the cross (see Jn 19:25), and that she was the first to see the risen Lord (see Jn 20:11-17). Nothing else.
In front of this scarcity of data, many authors over the centuries unleashed their imagination to fill in the gaps: any sinner woman who appeared in the gospels was said to be the Magdalene, and the same was said of every woman that anointed Jesus. Mary of Bethany anointed Jesus; thus, it was concluded that the sister of Martha and Lazarus was no other than Mary Magdalene. All these theories may be quite satisfying for our curiosity, but they are not certain at all. Therefore, it is very interesting that Pope Francis has decided to establish a liturgical celebration for Saint Mary of Bethany (together with her brothers Martha and Lazarus), and a different one for Mary Magdalene.
In this way, instead of spending our time making suppositions and inventing novels about St. Mary Magdalene, the Church invites us to read the gospels more carefully and remember the Magdalene as the one she truly was: the first witness of the Resurrection, and the one whom Christ commissioned to announce the Good News to the apostles. That’s why we call her the “Apostle to the Apostles.” Nothing else… but nothing less!
Cristóbal Villaroig, L.C.