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Mary Magdalene a prostitute according to Archbishop

Listening to the Sunday programme on BBC Radio 4 today I was surprised to hear Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the new Catholic Archbishop of Westmintser, say that the Gospels tell us that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute. This remark came in connection with the current exhibition of Spanish devotional art in London.

There is nothing in the New Testament or in the earliest Christian historical sources to say that this was Mary's profession, and the belief that it was seems to have arisen as a later legend. (A bit like the idea that the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden was an apple.) I know a lot of people think that this was the case but it was unexpected to find the Archbishop saying so.

I emailed the Archbishop to query this and received the folloowing reply.




Dear Mr Campbell

Thank you for your recent email. In response may I just clarify as follows:


There is a long standing, but disputed, tradition of the identity of Mary Magdalen. However, the statute I was referring to was created, as I best understand, in order to illustrate the repentance of the person being depicted and her amazement that God's love unequivocal nature of God's forgiveness, to echo the long standing tradition of Mary Magdalen's identity.

However, my words were not a doctrinal statement nor is the question of the identity of the woman in Luke 7:36 a matter of faith or doctrine.

Thank you for writing to me.

With every good wish,

Yours sincerely

+Vincent Nichols

Archbishop of Westminster

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