Mary and Mary Magdalene for Women's History Month

With today being Palm Sunday and Easter a week away, I thought we would learn more about two of the women who loved Jesus, his mother, Mary, and Mary Magdalene. Besides the Bible I wanted to share with Hazel what is known about these to Biblical women. I found a few books on each of them. We have only been able to read one from each person, but I found these books on Amazon or available at our public library.

Mary, Jesus' Mother

Correggio, commiato di cristo dalla madre
Christ's Farewell to His Mother by Antonio da Correggio [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Now at this time of year I always wonder how Mary must have felt knowing her son was being killed, watching him suffer and die.The agony she must have felt. Her life has always intrigued me. She was willing to do God's work no matter what it meant for her. Hazel and I enjoyed reading Young Mary of Nazareth by Marianna Mayer. Here are pictures of this book and others I found on-line.

Now not much is in the Bible about the early life of Mary, but it is interesting in its own ways. Mary's parents Joachim (or Heli--both are similar names in translation) and Anna (or Ann), prayed to have a child. One day angels appeared to each separately saying their prayers were answered. Ann will have a baby girl and they will name her Mary. Joachim is so happy he promises to present her to the temple for education at age 3; atb this time it was the custom to do with the first born son. There are many stories of her walking at six months, holding conversations about religious topics with the rabbi and elders at age 3 and such. It is said she was born not to sin, so she would be the perfect mother for Jesus. When she came of age (14-years-old), the rabbi told her it was time to marry. She was not sure she wanted to marry since she was doing so much work for the poor and she had made a vow of virginity. The rabbi insisted that they at least gather the eligible men and see what comes of it. He struggled with how he would pick someone worthy of marrying Mary, but he consulted God and was told to have each man bring a rod and a sign would come. It was an older widower's rod that sprouted and became a resting place for a holy dove. His name was Joseph. It did not consider himself worthy of Mary, but she agreed to marry him. He had a job to do a distance away and they would be separated for almost a year before marriage.
Luca giordano, annunciazione, 1672
Annunciation Painting By Luca Giordano
Photo By Sailko (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons 
Mary returned to live with her parents during this year. At a point the angel, Gabriel, comes to Mary and tells her that God wants her to bear His son. She does not understand at first how this is possible since she is not even married. She agrees to God's will though. She tells her parents and Joseph about her pregnancy and the angel. Joseph does not want to shame Mary, so it is decided to send her away and end the engagement. However an angel appears to Joseph in a dream that tells him Mary has told the truth about the baby being God's and to name the baby, Jesus. They get married. Just before it is time for her to have the baby, they must travel to Bethlehem due to a decree by Caesar. In Bethlehem they find no place to stay until an innkeeper lets them stay in his stable. It is among the animals that she gives birth to Jesus. This of course is the story of Christmas.
Geburt Christi Pescoller senior 1923
By This Photo was taken by Wolfgang Moroder.  (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
Now the Bible has little about Jesus' life as a boy.We know they escaped to Egypt after Bethlehem and when King Herod died returned to Nazareth. Throughout the Bible there are a few mentions of Mary besides Jesus' birth. We read of when Mary and Joseph get worried because Jesus did not return with their group from Jerusalem. They find him talking to the elders in the temple. We know she is at the wedding in Cana and asks Jesus to do something when the wine runs out. Then we know that Mary is with Jesus during His Passion. She is at the cross when he is dying. He turns to her and his disciple, James, and tells her that James is now her son and to James that Mary is his mother. She watches her son die on the cross with her sister (perhaps sister-in-law) Mary Cleophas and Mary Magdalene. It is believed she was one of the women who find the empty tomb on Easter Sunday and she believed He had risen.
Crucified Christ between Saint John and Mary mg 1689
Crucified Christ between Mary and John  [CC BY-SA 2.0 fr], via Wikimedia Commons
It is also said that Mary was very active in the early church.There are many churches named for her as well as many sightings of her throughout history. Some believe she never died but was assumed into Heaven (this is called the Assumption).
Alonso López de Herrera - The Assumption of the Virgin - Google Art Project
The Assumption of the Virgin By Alonso López de Herrera (ca. 1585 - ca.1675) (Spanish) (Portraitist, Details of artist on Google Art Project) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Sources:Wikipedia, Catholic Encyclopedia, Bible, Young Mary of Nazareth

Mary Magdalene

Michelangelo Caravaggio 063.jpg
Mary Magdalene by Caravaggio [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
There is not as many children's books about Mary Magdalene.Perhaps it is because we do not know as much about this woman. We know from the Bible that Jesus cured Mary Magdalene of seven demons (Luke 8:2). These demons could be a complicated illness and not necessarily sins. We do not know what they are. Many people have assumed Mary Magdalene are the unnamed women in various stories, but there is no proof of it. One being the woman who anointed Jesus feet after washing them with her tears and drying them with her hair (Luke 7:37-50). Another mention of this story or one similar is in Matthew 26:6-13. It seems that with all the Marys in the Bible, many stories have been mixed up. Some believe Mary Magdalene to have been a prostitute others just say she sinned. Some believe her to be the woman with the alabaster jar and yet there is no name given to this woman. In other Gospels a Mary is mentioned anointing Jesus, but it is Mary, the sister of Martha, and not Mary Magdalene.
Bouts anoiting.jpg
"Bouts anoiting" by Dieric Bouts (circa 1420-1475) - Web Gallery of Art:  
  Info about artwork. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
With all of this confusion and perhaps sins, this may be why there are not many children's books on Mary Magdalene. We enjoyed reading Mary Magdalene: Woman Who Showed Her Gratitude by Marlee Alex. I picked it up at a used book store recently. The only other book I could find was the Song of the Magdalene which is actually a young adult book, so we did not read it.

What we know about Mary Magdalene from the Gospels is that she had seven demons cast out of her. She was in the group of female followers who supported the men from their own means. Mary Magdalene is witness to three key events, the crucifixion, the burial and the empty tomb. She is one of the only followers named at all three of these events. She is also mentioned as the first person Jesus reveals his risen self to in Mark 16:9 and John 20:16. Many call her the apostle of the apostles. Now it is said that Mary Magdalene wrote her own accounts of the events in what is called the Gospel of Mary. (There are some who believe it was Mary, the mother of Jesus who wrote it.) This account is not part of the Bible and a complete copy of it did not survive to modern times.
Tizian 050
Noli me tangere (Touch Me Not) by Titian 
[Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
What we know about Mary Magdalene is that she loved Jesus. She is a strong female figure who stuck by Jesus even at the time of his crucifixion when many of the disciples did not. She followed Jesus and supported his ministries and his disciples. The many rumors are that she was a prostitute, that she married Jesus and so many more. We really do not know if there is truth to any of that, but what we do know about this strong woman is that she truly loved Jesus and cared for Him.

Sources: Wikipedia: Mary MagdaleneGospel of Mary, and Smithsonian
Virgin with Child between Saint John the Baptist and Saint Magdalena-Piero di Cosimo mg 9974
Virgin and child between John the Baptist and Saint Magdalena Painted by Piero di Cosimo 
 Photograph by Rama, Wikimedia Commons, Cc-by-sa-2.0-fr [CC BY-SA 2.0 fr], via Wikimedia Commons
Both of these Biblical women are strong examples for a young girl. They see the goodness and courage in their stories. Both overcome obstacles and are honest and caring. I think they are perfect role models for my daughter.

For more of our Women's History Month Posts check out the following and be sure to check out  the Multicultural Kid Blogs Women's History Month Blog Series with Link Party.