Da Vinci Code & the Louvre’s Erhart Magdalene


With The Da Vinci Code in the news, I have heard very little about Dan Brown’s claim that the Catholic Church blackened Mary Magadalene’s name by casting her as a prostitute. This in fact can’t be true because Mary Magdalene is of course SAINT Mary Magdalene. The title “saint” is greater than Pope, Cardinal, Bishop, Priest, or Emperor, because by it the Church recognizes a soul that conforms his or her life to Christ and His teaching.

I recently read this article by Elizabeth Bard referring to “Da Vinci Code art” at the Louvre and it reveals that the Church never did wage a smear campaign against Mary Magdalene. Rather devotion to her was great and widespread. She was loved, venerated, and appreciated by the faithful. The quote below is about the “Da Vinci Code Tour” at the Louvre and it shows that Dan Brown’s depiction of the Catholic Church and Mary Magdalene is incorrect:

In fact, we end not with a painting, but with a sculpture of Mary Magdalene. But unlike the typical image of the scarlet harlot that we see in so many of the late medieval and early Renaissance paintings upstairs, here we find a beautiful and very secular-looking nude with long flowing blond hair and a serene expression. She looks more like Botticelli’s Venus rising out of the sea than the lamenting woman often depicted at the foot of the cross.

This sculpture takes us out of Italy and into the early German Renaissance, around 1515. The sculptor, Gregor Erhart, worked in and around Augsburg. His Mary Magdalene has been carved out of a single piece of wood and delicately painted.

When we see Mary Magdalene like this, wearing her hair and nothing else, it illustrates legends about her life as a hermit, which pick up where the Bible leaves off. The legend tells us that Mary fled Jerusalem after the crucifixion. She sailed across the Mediterranean Sea in a rudderless boat, landing on the southern coast of France. From there, she went to the caves at St. Baume where she lived for thirty years as a hermit, doing penitence for her sins. She survived without food, water or clothing–just a choir of heavenly angels to lift her up to Christ during her prayers. In fact, this sculpture was originally meant to be hung from the ceiling. She would have been surrounded by a group of sculpted angels to show us the moment when Mary Magdalene ascends to Christ through her prayers.

So yes, St Mary Magdalene is a bride of Christ, but only in the same way that every consecrated nun is a bride of Christ – consecrated to Him by virginity.

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