Mary Magadlene’s Foot

St Mary Magdalene(Saint John the Baptist of the Florentines) … A relic of St Mary Magdalene’s foot rests in a shrine to the left of the main sanctuary.”

Well, there you have it, a new revelation for me and another reason protestants look at us weirdly thinking, “There goes those Catholics again!”  Mary Magdalene’s foot becomes a tourist attraction.  (Left or right, I do not know.)

Any image or relic is only useful if applied in our lives and has an enduring quality to it.  Mary’s foot itself doesn’t do much for me except make me wonder what other saintly body parts are housed somewhere in the world and also ponder what part of me will be preserved anywhere, if at all.  (“Oh look honey, it’s Fr. Joe’s smoking fingers.  How well preserved it’s been.  Take a picture of me next to them!”)

The resurrection day must have made Mary walk very slowly to his grave, probably barefoot in those days with stones strewn along the pathway.  She must have been still very sad but wanted to visit the grave once again.  Why she wanted to visit the grave once more is lost to us except how many of us visit loved ones graves, even if for a moment.  She arrives there and sees that it’s empty.  Overcome and speechless she can only think of running back to tell someone.  Barefoot!  Now the stones must have really hurt as she hurries herself but she didn’t care because her destination would allow the words to be spoken.  “He’s gone,” she tells the guys.  Of course, the guys seated around the poker table don’t believe her and glance down and see the blood spots around her feet.  She repeats her amazing discovery amid, “Come on, it’s your turn, either raise or drop out.”

The soldiers guarding the tomb are paid extra to keep their mouths shut but if asked to say that “the body was stolen to prove some silly point.”  It is only the word of barefoot Mary who tells her wonderful tale a third time before Peter and John suddenly realize that they’re losing at cards and decide to see for themselves.  They have shoes on so it was easy for them to retrace Mary’s steps, following the blood stained stones helped also.

These two remaining big guys of a nascent church arrive and see for themselves what’s been told to them three times.  (It seems to take guys a little longer to get what women see the first time.  How does that happen?)  They don’t buy the “stolen body” story and smile down at barefoot Mary.  It was true.  What was foretold came to be and saw first by a woman scoffed for years but who, in her newly found humility, came to realize who she was in the sight of God.  Barefoot but chosen.  Cursed but redeemed.  Laughed at but the first to witness what we believe centuries later.

It’s always the paradoxes that make the Catholic Church authentic and exciting for me.  It’s always the opposites that unite us into the new life promised us by Christ.

Well, Mary lives out her days somewhere, some say the south of France and others say Ephesus.  The funeral home must have picked up her body and somehow a part of her foot (left or right we’re not sure) eventually lands up in a church.

A picture taking moment?  No.  A piece of her to admire and worship?  Never.  A metaphor for us years later to contemplate?  I don’t want to put my foot in my mouth but on that last one I’d say, “Yes, absolutely true.”

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians).
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