July 22nd is the feast day of St Mary Magdalene, also known as Mary of Magdala.
According to the Gospel of St John (20: 14-18), Christ first appeared to Mary Magdalene as she stood by the empty tomb, weeping. When she recognised him he bade her not to touch him but to go the disciples with the message that he was now risen.
In art, Mary Magdalene is mostly depicted as a penitent sinner. And yet the sinful woman who anointed Christ's feet in the Pharisee's house, from whom the image of the repentant sinner is derived, is unnamed (Luke 7: 37-38).
St Mary Magdalene, whose main attribute is a jar of ointment, is the patron saint of penitent prostitutes and pharmacists.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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