If I ever have a daughter, she’ll be named ‘Mary Magdalen’.

"Conversion of Mary Magdalene" by Paolo Veronese, c. 1547
“Conversion of Mary Magdalene” by Paolo Veronese, c. 1547

While engaged to be married, my now-husband and I made a bargain with Mary Magdalen. Several months prior, Dan had left the religious community with which he’d been discerning for the past few years. With a spotty resume, a broken-down car, and scraping to rent a room on San Antonio’s southside, Dan was depressed. Unable to lift him up, I desperately made a deal with Mary Magdalen: “If you help Dan get out of this rut, I promise we will name our first daughter after you.”

Lo and behold, Dan’s depression lifted. On her feast day, we went to Mass at our parish – named after this famous woman – and venerated her relic.

Mary Magdalen has undoubtedly interceded in our lives beyond that story. If the Lord ever blesses us with a daughter, we’ll gladly name her thus. (Weird German spelling, too…no extra “e”.) During my husband’s time as a novice, he lived with the Brothers of the Beloved Disciple, a young religious community of priests and brothers located on the grounds of St. Mary Magdalen parish in San Antonio. We attended Mass at the parish while dating and engaged, were married there, and are now registered parishioners.

"Penitent Magdalene" by El Greco, c. 1590
“Penitent Magdalene” by El Greco, c. 1590

Did you know that Mary of Magdala is mentioned more times in Scripture than even the Blessed Virgin Mary? I learned this from Fr. Juan Solana, LC, who’s overseeing the development of the Magdala Center in the Holy Land. Mary Magdalen was likely a wealthy woman who had experienced the pit of sin – and after encountering Jesus, she never looked back. She supported him and his followers materially and spiritually. She never left his side – seeing him through his passion, death, and burial.

She is traditionally known as ‘Apostle to the Apostles.’ The woman out of whom Jesus cast seven demons was chosen to first receive the Good News: “He is Risen!” Scripture tells us she was the first to meet Jesus after the Resurrection.

This is a dedicated, faithful woman. This is a woman who embraces her newfound dignity in Christ. This is a woman who knew her God’s voice. Mary Magdalen, pray for us.

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