Day 13:  The Grotto

Art:  These grotto scenes, supposedly from the legends of Mary Magdala’s spending her later years in seclusion in the caves of Provence,France, often show Magdala partly or fully disrobed, and also often reading a book [Katia inserts: (symbol of Sophia and “the Word”) and a skull (symbol of “the Flesh”).  The book and skull together seem to say, “the Word was made Flesh”. Note her hair, the colors used.  However.  This secluded penitent cave-dwelling Mary may not be Mary Magdalene at all, but a hermit saint Mary of Egypt who later got confused with the Magdalene.]

Devotional:  Did Mary Magdala really sin? And if she did, can God forgive her? Why would she have to spend so many years repenting?

Do you think Magdala could read? Some women in higher classes did learn to read, especially if they were needed to help with the family business. How does this possibility distinguish Mary from other women of her time? Does it affect how you see her?

Magdalene in the Grotto, by Guido Reni

(Above) Another Penitent Magdalene by Guido Reni

Oil on canvas
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

(Above) Penitent Magdalene by Feti, 1615

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