Novus Ordo news: 22 July is now the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene


Coincidentally, I just saw this painting a few days ago in the Prado as part of a great exhibit of Georges de La Tour. 31 of his 40 known paintings were gathered together.

The Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, headed by the great Robert Card. Sarah, has issued a decree making – for the Novus Ordo, mind you – what was the Memorial of St. Mary Magdalene into a Feast.   22 July is now the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene.

She also now gets her own Preface!

In an explanatory article, the Secretary of the CDW, Archbp. Arthur Roche, says that Pope Francis expressly desired the elevation of this to a Feast.

In the decree we find some of the reasons.  I’m sure you can puzzle this out.

Nostris vero temporibus cum Ecclesia vocata sit ad impensius consulendum de mulieris dignitate, de nova Evangelizatione ac de amplitudine mysterii divinae misericordiae bonum visum est ut etiam exemplum Sanctae Mariae Magdalenae aptius fidelibus proponatur. Haec enim mulier agnita ut dilectrix Christi et a Christo plurimum dilecta, “testis divinae misericordiae” a Sancto Gregorio Magno, et “apostolorum apostola” a Sancto Thoma de Aquino appellata, a christifidelibus huius temporis deprehendi potest ut paradigma ministerii mulierum in Ecclesia.

[UPDATE: English release of the same: “Given that in our time the Church is called to reflect in a more profound way on the dignity of Woman, on the New Evangelisation and on the greatness of the Mystery of Divine Mercy, it seemed right that the example of Saint Mary Magdalene might also fittingly be proposed to the faithful. In fact this woman, known as the one who loved Christ and who was greatly loved by Christ, and was called a “witness of Divine Mercy” by Saint Gregory the Great and an “apostle of the apostles” by Saint Thomas Aquinas, can now rightly be taken by the faithful as a model of women’s role in the Church.”]

Here is the Preface:

Vere dignum et iustum est,
æquum et salutáre,
nos te, Pater omnípotens,
cuius non minor est misericórdia quam potéstas,
in ómnibus prædicáre per Christum Dóminum nostrum.

Qui in hortu [sic … horto] maniféstus appáruit Maríæ Magdalénæ,
quippe quae eum diléxerat vivéntem,
in cruce víderat moriéntem,
quæsíerat in sepúlcro iacéntem,
ac prima adoráverat a mórtuis resurgéntem,
et eam apostolátus offício coram apóstolis honorávit
ut bonum novæ vitæ núntium
ad mundi fines perveníret.

Unde et nos, Dómine, cum Angelis et Sanctis univérsis
tibi confitémur, in exsultatióne dicéntes:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Dóminus Deus Sábaoth…

Note that quippe a conjunction, when paired with a pronoun, quae gives us a reason or a cause.   We thus say something like, “as one in fact who” or “inasmuch as she”. Usually you see this with subjunctive.. but… well….  Apostolatus is 5th, so its genitive is apostolatûs.  That manifestus seems repetitive, since we have apparuit right away.  But manifestus, can mean, along with “evident” and so forth, “palpable”.  Manifestus is formed from manus and fendo, and as such indicates that one hits something with the hand.  That’s why something is “palpable, evident, clear, manifest”.

I have a new MM affiliate set up! You know you want to order coffee, so try it now… and stay awake during the vocabulary stuff.

I thought it might be an adverbial use, but it probably isn’t.  There’s a perfectly good manifeste available in Latin. Augustine of Hippo in Contra epistulam Parmeniani 4,8 wrote: Quem proptera saepe nomino, quia ita manifestus apparuit, ut ubicumque fuerit nominatus nullus se ignorare respondeat.  Leo the Great in tr. 71 wrote: Et licet reuolutio lapidis, euacuatio monumenti, depositio linteorum, et totius facti angeli narratores copiose ueritatem dominicae resurrectionis adstruerent, et mulierum tamen uisui, et apostolorum oculis frequenter manifestus apparuit, non solum conloquens cum eis, sed etiam habitans atque conuescens, et pertractari se diligenti curioso que contactu ab eis quos dubitatio perstringebat admittens.  The phrase manifestus apparuit also happens to appear manifestly in old Prefaces in versions of the Gelasian Sacramentary, such as in the Liber sacramentorum Augustodunensis: Vd. <per Christum dominum nostrum>. qui post resurrectionem suam omnibus discipulis suis manifestus apparuit. et ipsis cernentibus est elevatus in caelum. ut nos diuinitatis suae tribueret esse participes: Et ideo cum angelis.  In any event, the construction is well attested.  If we go farther afield and look for manifeste, manifestius, etc., with forms of appareo we get lots of occasions from Classical writers such as Quintillian, Pliny Elder.  In Latin Fathers we find it in Cyprian of Carthage, Novatian, Augustine of course, often,  It’s a commonplace.

Back to the Preface.

The decree states that conferences will have to work out their translations of the preface.


Truly is it worthy and just, advantageous and salutary, that in all things we proclaim You, Father Almighty, whose mercy is not less than (Your) power, through Christ our Lord – Who, manifest, appeared in the garden to Mary Magdalene, for indeed she loved Him while he was living, saw Him on the Cross dying, in the sepulcher sought Him lying, and, being the first, adored Him from the dead rising, and He honored her with the duty of apostleship in the presence of the apostles, so that the good news of new life would reach unto the ends of the earth.  Whence we also, O Lord, with Angels and Saints, profess to you, saying in exultation: Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts….


UPDATE 22 July:

Here is the “working translation” of the Preface:

Preface of the Apostle of the Apostles

It is truly right and just,
our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
whose mercy is no less than His power,
to preach the Gospel to everyone, through Christ, our Lord.
In the garden He appeared to Mary Magdalene,
who loved him in life,
who witnessed his death on the cross,
who sought him as he lay in the tomb,
who was the first to adore him when he rose from the dead,
and whose apostolic duty was honored by the apostles,
that the good news of life might reach the ends of the earth.
And so Lord, with all the Angels and Saints,
we, too, give you thanks, as in exultation we acclaim:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might …


Roche explained in his article that this act in the present ecclesial context, and thus it responds to the desire to reflect more deeply on the dignity of women and the new evangelization, and the mystery of divine mercy.  I admit that all of those are mysterious, but I digress.  Roche includes some nifty quotes about Mary Magdalen, too.  I’m sure the English of that article will soon be available.  I’m not going to translate it here, for lack of time.

There is something weird in Roche’s explanation, however.  At the end, after trotting out some Thomas Aquinas about Mary Magdalene as “apostolorum apostola“, he writes:

Perciò è giusto che la celebrazione liturgica di questa donna abbia il medesimo grado di festa dato alla celebrazione degli apostoli nel Calendario Romano Generale e che risalti la speciale missione di questa donna, che è esempio e modello per ogni donna nella Chiesa.

Therefore it is just that the liturgical celebration of this woman should have the same level of feast given to the celebration of the Apostles in the General Roman Calendar and that it underscore the special mission of this woman, who is an example and model for every woman in the Church.

That’s odd.  Mary Magdalene has been a favorite saint of mine ever since, well…. ever.   The Church’s tradition, particularly Gregory the Great, mostly identified as the same person, Mary Magdalene, the woman with the jar of nard, and the sister of Lazzarus and Martha.  Certainly she was at the foot of the Cross and at the tomb on the morning after the Resurrection.  There’s no evidence that she was a prostitute or the adulteress brought to the Lord in John 7.  In Mark 16:9 we read that the Lord had performed an exorcism for her: “But he rising early the first day of the week, appeared first to Mary Magdalen, out of whom he had cast seven devils.”  This is also in Luke 8:2: “Mary who is called Magdalen, out of whom seven devils were gone forth”.   Augustine thought these were perhaps the seven deadly sins or vices.  It may have been on this foundation, along with some ambiguity about various Marys in the Gospels, that she was conglomerated into also being a fallen woman who then repented.  At least from that tradition we got some really great paintings!  Also… and here is something for you who are interested in art history… some day when you have time, check out the strong similarity of paintings of “penitent Magdalene” and of dying Cleopatra with the asp at her breast.  Warning: some of them can be a little spicy.  But I digress.

In any event, so – in the Novus Ordo – Mary Magdalene now has a Feast, which happens also to be the same level as the celebrations of the Apostles.  That doesn’t put her on the level of the Apostles.  Sorry, it just doesn’t.  Watch how some libs and feminists will do just that.  Frankly, I think it was imprudent to have that line in the article, given the present confusion abounding about the ordination of women, newly fueled by Pope Francis off-hand comment about studying the question of deaconettes.

His scriptis, this was overdue.  I’m glad that – in the Novus Ordo – Mary Magdalene has her Feast.


Here is an interesting point dropped to me by a reader about how Mary Magdalene was honored in Holy Mass before the Council.

Before 1960 or so, Mary had a Creed!  (For those of you who don’t know, in the older form of Holy Mass the Creed is said a lot more often.)  Here’s a shot of her formulary from a Missal from 1947.

Here is her formulary from 1962.  No Creed.  Kind of a demotion.

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  1. entirelyuseless says:

    The comparison with the Apostles is not especially new. Formerly (not in 1962, but longer ago), the feast used the preface of the Apostles.

  2. KRD says:

    I’ve never thought that Mary Magdalene and Mary sister of Martha and Lazarus were the same…is this a widespread Church tradition?

  3. Elizabeth D says:

    I am very thrilled with the highly appropriate choice of making St Mary Magdalen’s day a feast. That’s one choice likely to please everyone.

    Also, I prefer the association of her with being (at least possibly) the repentant prostitute, also (at least possibly) the Mary who is the sister of Martha and Lazarus. Not stated in Scripture but very traditional and referenced by many saints.

  4. Supertradmum says:

    Great news and I have always been partial to La Tour’s painting. If real Catholics, not Catholic feminists, can explain to people the real importance of this feast of a great Penitent, who loved Christ and became a contemplative, maybe the other noise about here false status will die down.

  5. StWinefride says:

    In any event, so – in the Novus Ordo – Mary Magdalene now has a Feast, which happens also to be the same level as the celebrations of the Apostles.

    Well, she is the “Apostle to the Apostles” after all!

    [That doesn’t make her an Apostle. Didn’t then, doesn’t now.]

  6. APX says:

    Didn’t she already have a feast day in the pre-conciliar calendar?

  7. Geoffrey says:

    I think this is very neat, though I fear how progressives and feminists will twist this. Or, they might be upset, seeing it as the Holy Father “throwing them a bone” while still denying them ordination.

    Hopefully this will do a lot to dispel the “Da Vini Code Theology” that is still hanging around.

  8. Well, she is the “Apostle to the Apostles” after all!

    [That doesn’t make her an Apostle. Didn’t then, doesn’t now.]

    Well then, how about “equal to the Apostles”?

    [How about, “Not a chance.”]

  9. Adaquano says:

    Somewhere the Bishop of Libville was heard murmuring, “something something, the Church still hates women.”

  10. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Well, if St. Mary Magdalene and St. Martha really did evangelize France (along with their brother St. Lazarus), then it’d be pretty standard to get the “equal to the apostles” line in Eastern stuff, because that’s what they give all the first-evangelist-in-a-country folks.

    But having the title “equal to the apostles” isn’t the same as being an apostle. Unless I’m missing something. Because otherwise they’d just call her Apostle of the French, or whatever.

  11. bwfackler says:

    Well, she is the “Apostle to the Apostles” after all!

    [That doesn’t make her an Apostle. Didn’t then, doesn’t now.]

    Well then, how about “equal to the Apostles”?

    [How about, “Not a chance.”]

    Her title in the greek liturgy is Equal to the Apostles although they use that term more loosely than the romans. also st vladimir, st cyril, and st methodius have the same title.

    [Greek… whatever. Not in the Latin Church.]

  12. StWinefride says:

    Jesus was an Apostle (Heb. 3:1), St Paul was an Apostle, St Barnabas was an Apostle, Titus was an Apostle, St Mary Magdalene was an Apostle…..

    “And God has appointed in the Church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues”. 1 Corinthians 12:28

    St Mary Magdalene most certainly deserves her “Feast”!

  13. Henry Edwards says:

    Thank you, Fr. Z, for the English translation of the preface (recalling that for years I’ve thought some WDTPRS attention to the many fine OF Latin prefaces might be worthwhile).

    In this one you might insert “sought him in the sepulcher lying” for the Latin quæsíerat in sepúlcro iacéntem.

    [Ooops. Good catch. I left it out. That’s been corrected.]

  14. jaykay says:

    I love the four sequential accusative-case participles, very euphonic, as well as the lovely build-up: viventem… morientem… iacentem…resurgentem: “living”, “dying”, “lying”, “rising”. It would probably be lovely to chant.

  15. un-ionized says:

    KRD, it’s all tangled up, the three Marys, or four Marys. Multiple Marys. Miriam was a very common name, the first one was the sister of Moses.

  16. Elizabeth D says:

    Mary Magdalen an apostle! Common of apostles for her feast day! She was the first womanbishop? Pope Francis just made that a fact retroactively! It’s a sign that he is open to ordaining the deaconesses to be bishops or at least that it is acceptable for everyone to begin freely speculating and “theologizing” about that! WOC comments that it is a new springtime! Soon, very soon there will be pink smoke over the Vatican! Dan Brown comments, I was right all along and now the numerous authors of books debunking The Da Vinci Code will eat crow!

    There, I am qualified to be a New York Times religion journalist.

  17. Henry Edwards says:

    “The decree states that conferences will have to work out their translations of the preface.”

    Assuming that an official English translation of this new preface will not yet be available, and that use of the proper preface (if any) is mandatory on a feast, all those who attend OF Mass this coming Friday, July 22, can expect to hear their priest chant this preface of St. Mary Magdalene in Latin? Right? At any rate, a perfect excuse for any priest looking for good reason to include some Latin in his celebration of Mass.

  18. iamlucky13 says:

    Our parish patron! Great news!

    That is quite the preface. I hope the official translation is ready by July 22 of this year (I suspect our pastor will not be chanting it in Latin).

    Am I remembering right that parish’s have the option to celebrate the memorials or feasts of their patrons on the Sunday following the regular date? Work has not been very favorable to me being able to make daily Mass.

  19. Augustine Thompson O.P. says:

    Dear me, so much rancor.

    In my order, St. Mary Magdalene has always been honored as the Apostle to the Apostles (since she announced the Resurrection to them). Instead of ranting about his, I suggest our readers consult the wonderful, scholarly and respectful, study of her saints cult:


  20. Father P says:

    This has always seemed to me a bit of a schizophrenic day anyway. It always seemed to be a kind of “super memorial”. The Mass has obligatory proper readings like a Feast but there was no Gloria like a Memorial. The LOH treated it like a Feast including the use of Sunday and Proper psalmody

  21. TWF says:

    I have thought for many years that she deserved a full feast. After all, Sts Timothy and Titus do and they weren’t among the 12. The Holy Father has made it clear that he upholds the Church’s teaching on women and the priesthood… I think he is making it clear that the Church can pay special honour to the unique ministry of women.

  22. Augustine says:

    Perhaps familiarity got the best of me, for I am surprised that a saint of the importance of Mary Magdalene didn’t have a feast day, but just a memorial.

    Now, there were many apostles (missionaries, as Fr. Simon so often emphasizes). We know of the 70 or 72 apostles who were sent in twos by the Lord to several towns and villages preaching the Kingdom (Lk 10). Likewise, St. Mary was sent by the Risen Lord to the Apostles in Jerusalem. Still, only a few apostles, twelve to be precise, were the Apostles, more often referred to in the Scriptures merely as the Twelve. Though the Twelve were all apostles, not all apostles were among the Twelve; not even the Apostle, St. Paul, was one of the Twelve. And not all of the apostles were bishops or even clergymen.

    Alas, I expect the popular media and Catholics at large to think that St. Mary is being equated to St. Peter by Francis. Oy!

  23. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    At long last I can say something cheerful about the reforms of Pope Francis. He elevated the Memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to a Feast.

    Thank you, Your Holiness.

    Now, a quick question: does anyone know an approved set of prayers for the intercession of St. Mary Magdalene? (She’s remembered as “Penitent”, and so it seems that it would be a good idea to have a novena for the conversion of sinners.

    If there isn’t such a novena already, do I understand correctly that the faithful may cobble together their own prayers for such a novena? If that’s correct, might I suggest that the singing of the Parce Domine, or the Miserere, and the speaking of the Divine Mercy Chaplet might be very much in order? (I wouldn’t sing the DMC because the available setting seems positively egocentric.)

  24. donato2 says:

    If she were viewed as a true apostle why would she given her own preface instead of the Apostle’s Preface?

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