the life of saint mary magdalen

The Inner Unity of Mary Magdalene

A soul that debates with its self, that is taken up with its feelings, and pursues useless thoughts and desires, scatters its forces, for it is not wholly directed toward God. Its lyre does not vibrate in unison, and when the Master plays it, he cannot draw from it divine harmonies, for it is still too human and discordant. The soul that still keeps something for self in its “inner kingdom,” whose powers are not “enclosed” in God, cannot be a perfect praise of glory; it is not fit to sing uninterruptedly this canticum magnum of which Saint Paul speaks, since unity does not reign in it. Instead of persevering in praise through everything in simplicity, it must continually adjust the strings of its instrument, which are all a little out of tune.

How indispensable this beautiful inner unity is for the soul that wants to live here below the life of the blessed, that is, of simple beings, of spirits. It seems to me the Master had that in mind when he spoke to Mary Magdalene of the Unum necassarium. How well that great saint understood this! “The eye of her soul enlightened by faith” recognized her God beneath the veil of his humanity; and in silence, in the unity of her powers, “she listened to what he told her.” She could sing, “My soul is always in my hands,” and also this little word: Nescivi. Yes, she knew nothing but him! There could be noise and excitement around her: Nescivi! They could accuse her: Nescivi! Neither empty self-esteem nor exterior things could draw her out of her “sacred silence.”

–St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

2

Saint of the Day – 22 May – St Rita of Cascia – (born Margherita Lotti) Patron of Impossible Causes, Abused Wives and Widows – (1386 at Roccaparena, Umbria, Italy – 22 May 1457 at the Augustinian convent at Cascia, Italy of tuberculosis)- Mother, Widow, Stigmatist, Consecrated Religious, Mystic, – Patron of Lost and impossible causes, sickness, wounds, marital problems, abuse, mothers,  against infertility or sterility; infertile people, against loneliness, against sickness or bodily ills; sick people, wounds; wounded people, desperate people, forgotten people,  difficult marriages, parenthood, Cascia, Italy, Dalayap, Philippines, Igbaras, Iloilo, Philippines.   Attributes –  nun holding a crown of thorns, holding roses, holding roses and figs, with a wound on her forehead.  Her Body is Incorrupt and lies in the Basilica of Cascia.   Pope Leo XIII canonised Rita on 24 May 1900.

Blessed by God,
you were a light in darkness
through your steadfast courage
when you had to suffer such agony
upon your cross. You turned aside from this vale of tears
to seek wholeness for your hidden wounds
in the great passion of Christ… .
You were not content with less than perfect healing,
and so endured the thorn for fifteen years
before you entered into the joy
of your Lord.

This poem was engraved on the casket of St. Rita of Cascia and is one of the few contemporary sources that tell us about her.   St. Rita received her “hidden wounds” in an unfortunate marriage.   Shewas born in 1381 in the city of Roccaporena (near Spoleto, Umbria, Italy) where various sites connected with her are the focus of pilgrimages.   Her parents, Antonio and Amata Ferri Lotti, were known to be noble, charitable persons, who gained the epithet Conciliatore di Cristo (English: Peacemakers of Christ).   She was married at age twelve to a nobleman named Paolo Mancini.   Her parents arranged her marriage, a common practice at the time, despite her repeated requests to be allowed to enter a convent of religious sisters.   Her husband, Paolo Mancini, was known to be a rich, quick-tempered, immoral man, who had many enemies in the region of Cascia. Rita had her first child at the age of twelve.  For eighteen years she endured the abuses and infidelities of a violent husband.   She also suffered the rascality of two sons who were strongly influenced by him.   She was delivered from these miserable circumstances in a horrific way:  one day her husband was brought home dead, brutally slashed by his enemies.   Her rambunctious sons planned to get revenge, but died before they could obtain it.

Rita was then free to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a nun.   She applied to enter the Augustinian convent at Cascia of Italy, in 1407.   But her suffering was not over.   Even though orders customarily received widows, the Augustinians three times refused Rita because she had been married.   Only after six years did they acquiesce and install her as a nun.

The poem said Rita “sought wholeness” in the passion of Christ.   In her meditations she preoccupied her imagination with his agony.   On Good Friday, 1441, she prostrated herself before a crucifix and begged Christ for some small share of his suffering.   As though punctured by a crown of thorns, a single wound opened on Rita’s forehead.   For fifteen years it caused her daily pain and embarrassed her, as its putrid odor frequently offended her sisters.   In 1450, when she was preparing to visit Rome for the jubilee year, the wound temporarily healed.   But it reappeared when she returned to Cascia and remained until her death.

Rita died of tuberculosis on May 22, 1457.   Three days later, Domenico Angeli, a notary of Cascia, recorded eleven miracles that occurred upon the saint’s death.   He left us this brief profile of her religious life:

“A very honorable nun, Lady Rita, having spent forty years as a nun in the cloister of the Church of Saint Mary Magdalene of Cascia by living with charity in the service of God, followed the destiny of every human being.   God, in whose service she persevered for the aforementioned time—desiring to show all the faithful a model of life, so that as she had lived serving God with love by fasting and prayer, they too, all faithful Christians, would live also—worked many wonderful miracles and through the merits of Saint Rita, especially on 25 May 1457.”

The Legend of the Roses

It is said that near the end of her life Rita was bedridden at the convent.   While visiting her, a cousin asked if she desired anything from her old home.   Rita responded by asking for a rose from the garden.   It was January and her cousin did not expect to find one due to the season.   However, when her relative went to the house, a single blooming rose was found in the garden and her cousin brought it back to Rita at the convent.   St. Rita is often depicted holding roses or with roses nearby.   On her feast day churches and shrines of St. Rita provide roses to the congregation that are blessed by the priest during Mass.

The Legend of the Bees

In the parish church of Laarne, near Ghent, Belgium, there is a statue of St. Rita in which several bees are featured.   This depiction originates from the story of her baptism as an infant.   On the day after her baptism, her family noticed a swarm of white bees flying around her as she slept in her crib.   However, the bees peacefully entered and exited her mouth without causing her any harm or injury.   Instead of being alarmed for her safety, her family was mystified by this sight.   According to Butler, this was taken to indicate that the career of the child was to be marked by industry, virtue, and devotion.

Legacy

A large sanctuary of St. Rita was built in the early 20th century in Cascia. The sanctuary and the house where she was born are among the most active pilgrimage sites of Umbria.

French singer Mireille Mathieu adopted St. Rita as her patron saint on the advice of her paternal grandmother.   In her autobiography, Mathieu describes buying a candle for St. Rita using her last franc.   Though Mathieu claims that her prayers did not always come true, she testifies that they inspired her to become a strong and determined woman.

In 1943, Rita of Cascia, a film based on St. Rita’s life, was made starring Elena Zareschi. The story of St. Rita increased in popularity due to a 2004 film “Santa Rita da Cascia”, filmed in Florence, Italy.   The latter film altered the facts of St. Rita’s early life.

St. Rita is often credited as also being the unofficial patron saint of baseball due to a reference made to her in the 2002 film The Rookie.

Saint Mary Magdalene- out of love you sought after the body of your friend and Lord, Jesus, and in doing so you witnessed the new breath of resurrection and proclaimed that good news to your fellow apostles. May we be guided by your example of showing up to the realities of this broken world so the we too can proclaim and show the new of life of Christ’s resurrection.
Amen.

Saint Mary Magdalene, pray for us.

just taking a moment to reflect on the irony of a bunch of college kids whose parents are paying for their education, or you know, literal fucking teenagers who still live at home, shouting on the internet about sex work and privilege while I divide my time between sucking cock and trying to establish myself as a nail technician so I can just like, stop doing work that at this point in my life is just exacerbating my trauma

ha ha ha

The Penitent Magdalen (1685-90). Carlo Cignani (Italian, 1628-1719). Oil on canvas. Dulwich Picture Gallery.

The French tradition is that Mary Magdalene came to Marseille and converted the whole of Provence. Mary Magdalene is said to have retired to a cave on a hill by Marseille, La Sainte-Baume, where she gave herself up to a life of penance for thirty years.