Vatican City, Jul 22, 2016 / 02:57 am
Faithful to the wish of Pope Francis, a new decree has bumped the liturgical celebration honoring St. Mary Magdalene from a memorial to a feast, putting her on par with the apostles.
The reason, according to Archbishop Arthur Roche, is that she “has the honor to be the first witness of the Lord’s resurrection.”
“She is the witness to the risen Christ and announces the message of the Lord’s resurrection just like the rest of the Apostles,” he said, explaining that for this reason “it is right that the liturgical celebration of this woman should have the same rank of Feast as that given to the celebration of the Apostles in the General Roman Calendar.”
Archbishop Roche is secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. He issued a letter on the decision June 10, the same day as the decree officiating the decision was published.
Calling Mary Magdalene “an example and model for all women in the Church,” the archbishop said she had a special mission, to which the new rank of feast does justice.
The decree, dated June 3 and published in Latin, was signed by both Archbishop Roche and the congregation’s president, Cardinal Robert Sarah. It says Mary Magdalene can be seen as “the paradigm of the ministry of women in the Church.”
On the Church’s liturgical calendar, saints are honored with either a “memorial” a “feast,” or a “solemnity.” Solemnities rank the highest, with feasts coming in second and memorials in third.
While there are 15 other memorials on Mary Magdalene’s July 22 feast, hers was the only obligatory one to celebrate. Now, after being elevated to the level of a feast, the celebration bears a more significant weight.