Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany, the Woman Caught in Adultery, and the Woman Possessed


In one of the Facebook groups I take part in a young woman posted the following:

Hello! I was just perusing the forums and came across some incorrect information that I wanted to help correct. Mary Magdalene was NOT the Samaritan woman at the well. I believe it was around the 6th century that one of the Church Fathers (Gregory?) preached in a homily about connecting the two women together and since then this has muddled Mary M's reputation. Personally, since understanding these women were not the same, I have really grown in my love and appreciation for Mary M. whom Jesus held in high esteem. Hopefully this helps someone else if they are struggling with the character!
(It was made clear in the comments that the original poster did not mean the Samaritan woman at the well as indicated here, but the woman caught in adultery)

I addressed her comment there, but I thought I would say more about it here.  It is a long standing tradition of the Church that the women listed in the title of this post are one and the same woman.  In fact, our local Cathedral dedicated to Mary Magdalene beautifully depicts her various appearances in scripture in several gorgeous art deco murals.  It was indeed, Pope Saint Gregory the Great who famously preached on the connection and there have been several article published on the subject. This post by Father William Saunders and this one just recently published in The Catholic Thing by Rev. Jerry J. Pokorsky are very clear and interesting discussions of the tradition. The Wikimedia Commons webpage dedicated to art depicting Mary Magdalene shows that artists throughout the ages have made the same connection between Mary the sinner and Mary the dear friend of Jesus.

I completely disagree that the connection muddles Mary's reputation in the least.  We are all sinners.  The New Testament is filled with stories of converted sinners. The tradition of Mary Magdalene's conversion is actually of utmost importance.  If a demon possessed, adulteress can be forgiven and converted it is a sign of great hope for the rest of us.  Jesus' mercy is incomprehensibly deep and we need it to be so. Yes, Mary Magdalene was a great sinner and yet, once she converted and became one of His most devoted followers, He held her in high esteem. In the end, she went on to become one of the few followers of Jesus at the foot of the cross, the first witness to His resurrection, and a great saint. I find so much comfort in that knowledge. Don't you?


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