First of the witnesses

First of the witnesses,
You met the Risen Lord,
You were sent first with the News,
Meeting incredulous men,
Who dismissed you
As bearer of women’s tales.

Ann Lewin’s poem, Mary of Magdala, invites us to move our focus when reflecting on the life and witness of St. Mary Magdalen (feast day July 22nd). St Luke tells of Mary, surnamed the Magdalene, from whom seven devils had gone out. (Luke 8.1-3) For centuries in Christian tradition Mary Magdalen has been identified as a reformed prostitute. While this may, or may not be true, in the Gospels Mary Magdalen features prominently when the women who ministered to Jesus are mentioned. She heads the list of the women present at our Lord’s passion and burial, and in John’s gospel she goes first, alone, to the tomb and encounters the risen Lord.

At St Chrysostom’s we are privileged to have Mary Magdalen depicted in a striking stained glass window in the Anson Chapel. She is shown to be a woman of beauty, with flowing red hair, amazed at the news of the resurrection. She is the beautiful bringer of good news, the herald of the resurrection.

On Easter Day the ancient Easter sequence Victimae paschali laudes is often sung at Mass. (We sing it at St Chrysostom’s as the hymn Christ the Lord is risen today;
Christians, haste your vows to pay). The sequence highlights Mary Magdalen’s role:

Tell us, Mary, what did
you see on the way?

“I saw the tomb of the living Christ
and the glory of his rising,

…Christ my hope is arisen”

Mary Magdalene was to carry the good news to the others, who were still in deep sorrow, lamenting Jesus’ death. Mary Magdalen brings us the news that Christ, our hope, is risen. In this way she is the prime mediator, the first bringer of the Christian good news that ‘life prevails over death, light prevails over darkness.’


About stchrysostoms

St Chrysostom’s is an Anglican (Church of England) parish church in Manchester, UK. We’re an inclusive, diverse and welcoming faith community rejoicing in our Anglo Catholic tradition, where people of many differing backgrounds make friends. Find our Facebook group at
This entry was posted in Anglican, Manchester, St Chrysostoms Church and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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