Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Apostola Apostolorum

 From the blog Laodicea:  a compelling argument for the Western conflation of four figures -- the sinful woman who washes Jesus' feet with her tears in a dramatic act of penitence in Luke 7:37-50; another unnamed woman who commits a similar gesture of anointing, pouring perfumed oil on His head, in Matthew 26:6-16; Mary of Bethany; and Mary of Magdala -- into one, the great Saint Mary Magdalene (called, by Saint Catherine of Siena, the greatest saint after Our Lady, and known in the Middle Ages as "Our Lady Magdalene").

May Saint Mary Magdalene, the Apostle to the Apostles and the protectress of penitents, pray for us as we approach the Paschal Triduum.

(Above:  Mary Magdalene, by Piero di Cosimo, 1462-1521.)


Clare Krishan said...

When I teach the Triduum to my teens in hispanic CCD confirmation class, I bring a flask of unguent (as featured bottom right in the image, I use a natural Body Shop oil, dewberry not too fashionable or commercial but intense and memorable none-the-less) and some baby wipes - and the kids get to re-enact the moment. At the next class I inquire how long they recalled the scent of the perfumed oils... and help them "sense" that's the meaning of Messiah in Spanish, El Ungido, the Anointed One. To think of Our Lord leaving a mental "scent trail" on his via crucis is intriguing to me, I'm sure the women of Jerusalem understood him "when the wood is green" viscerally also, ie the cedar balsam sap aroma that is the base of many toiletries in ancient societies would have evoked a sort of escatalogical nard in the mind's "nose" (sap when dried is what makes myrrh and frankincense). And of course the olive oil connects to the dove carrying the olive branch of the ark's forty days, a sign for peace in modern times, and the oils of catechumens used to confer the sacrament of Confirmation (next Saturday for my students). All the best intellectual activity uses more than just words, but rather "incarnate" words that appeal to the senses as well as the mind! God Bless you for helping me stay dwell in the moment this Holy Saturday!

Pentimento said...

That is a fascinating comment, Clare. It's making me think about synaesthesia in the Gospels. I love your idea of "eschatological nard."

Have a blessed Easter!

Enbrethiliel said...


It is an amazing post, Pentimento! Thanks so much for linking to it. =D

Happy Easter!

Clare Krishan said...

More maudlin* trivia & portraiture, here:
what a wonderful color combo evoking the Divine Mercy image, no?
(*) maudlin being an olde English contraction of Magdalene

Pentimento said...

Beautiful, thank you for posting it!

The art-historical tradition that links Mary Magdalene with music imagery was one of the topics of my dissertation, and I actually wrote about red and white as the Magdalene's colors.