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Mary Magdalene is pissed.

For two thousand years, she’s been called a whore, unfairly slapped with the label “prostitute” because a sixth century pope couldn’t keep his

New Testament females straight.


Now,  she comes forward to tell the true story of her time with Jesus Christ and her life after his death, a story quite different from what the New Testament and Hollywood have fabricated. Her narrative will lead to a final revelation that upends our understanding of Jesus' purpose on Earth.


We know very little about her. Here are the facts most historians agree on:


  • She came from the town of Magdala, on the Sea of Galilee.


  • She was a devout disciple of Jesus Christ.


  • According to three out of the four gospels of the New Testament, she was the first person to see the risen Christ, three days after his death. (The only gospel not to mention her is Luke, a scribe who was Paul’s closest disciple.)

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“Maddalena” by Elisabetta Sirani (1638-1665)


  • In 591, Pope Gregory I conflated Mary Magdalene with Mary of Bethany and a sinful woman who washed Jesus’ feet, and labeled her a repentant prostitute, a label that persists to this day. There is no textual evidence in the New Testament to support his interpretation. (Notably, the Eastern Church did not meld these women, and never called Mary Magdalene a sinner.)


  • Centuries later, in 1969, Pope Paul VI declared that Mary Magdalene should be celebrated as one of Jesus’ disciples, not as a penitent prostitute. Few people payed attention.

Mosaic of Pope Gregory I in The Pammakaristos Church, Istanbul, Turkey

  • On June 10, 2016, Pope Francis issued a decree elevating July 22 (the traditional day of celebration of Mary Magdalene), to the rank of a Feast day, thereby giving her equal treatment to other Apostles. In doing so, Pope Francis acknowledged “the importance of this woman, who shows great love for Christ and was very dear to Christ.” 

  • Throughout the centuries, artists have embraced the image of Mary Magdalene as a prostitute, invariably dressing her in red, with her head bowed (Caravaggio, Penitent Magdalene (1595)); or with her eyes raised to heaven, dressed in nothing but flowing hair (Titian, Pentitent Magdalene (1530)).

  • Popular culture continues to capitalize on Mary Magdalene's sullied reputation. Andrew Lloyd Weber earned somewhere between $24 million and $240 million for his portrayal of Mary Magdalene as a prostitute in love in the musical Jesus Christ, Superstar.  Dan Brown sold 80 million copies of his novel, The Da Vinci Code, in which Mary Magdalene is a sex worker who marries Jesus. The movie adaptation of The Da Vinci Code grossed over $760 million worldwide.


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According to legend, after Jesus’ death, the Temple priests in Jerusalem became concerned about the spread of his teachings and began to target leaders of the new faith. They placed Mary Magdalene and several other followers – a man named Lazarus, his sister Martha, Joseph of Arimathea, and several others – in a small boat and set it adrift in the Mediterranean Sea. The boat eventually landed on the shores of Provence in southern France.

From there, Jesus’ followers scattered: Lazarus went to Marseilles, Martha to Tarascon, and Joseph to Rocamadour. Mary Magdalene remained in the town of Sainte Baume, preaching and evangelizing. Ultimately, she retired to a grotto atop the nearby mountain of Sainte Baume, to pursue a life of contemplation. Legend says that she ended her days in that cave, fed by angels that brought her sustenance.

Friars from the Dominican Order maintain and guard this grotto, which is visited by almost half a million people each year. On July 22 (Mary Magdalene’s feast day) hundreds of pilgrims gather in Sainte Baume for an annual procession that carries her sacred relics – a gilded human skull and a leg bone, both allegedly Mary’s – up the cliff to her cave.

For more information on Mary Magdalene in France and her grotto, see:

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