The House of New Bethany

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“Jesus Christ bequeathed his Mother to Jerusalem, St. Peter to Rome, St. John to Asia — to whom will he have bequeathed Mary Magdalene?

We know already, it is France who received from the hands of God this part of the Testament of His Son… Tradition, history, the monuments tell it to us clearly, and Providence has taken care to give to their testimony an invincible clarity.  One cannot bring one’s feet down on the soil of Provence without encountering at each step the memory of St.  Mary Magdalene.

It is there that St.  Mary Magdalene ended her pilgrimage; it is there that St.  Maximin buried her in an alabaster sepulchre, in memory of that other alabaster where the saint had twice enclosed the ointment with which she anointed the Savior; it is there that St.Maximin himself wanted his mortal remains to be deposited, beside those other remains so dear to his heart, to Jesus Christ, to the angels, and to mankind and where they came in quest of it — a veneration that will soon be twenty centuries old.

Bethany is no more, but Jesus Christ has given to Magdalene the house she lost, and the one and the other, the Master and the Disciple, the God who was loved and the woman who loved, live together at St. Maximin, as in other times they lived on the sides of the Mount of Olives.  Marseilles is the Jerusalem of this new Bethany, and France is the greater and more faithful Judea.

I say France; because it was she that inherited Provence, and with her St.  Magdalene.

Here, perhaps, at the close of our work, one asks oneself why the divine Master of Souls has chosen as the one to love Him more than anyone else a poor sinner, and bequeathed her to us as the most moving example of holiness.  The reason is not difficult to discover:  innocence is a drop of water in the world, repentance is the ocean that envelops it and saves it.”

Life of Mary Magdalene by Henri Dominique Lacordaire, OP

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