Fr Sean Davison writes with profound insight on why she is always depicted at the foot of the Cross

I have just been reading a book which, if it has done nothing else, has reminded me, that Eucharistic Adoration is the greatest of all prayers we can make to God (attending Mass is obviously included in this).

The book is Saint Mary Magdalene: Prophetess of Eucharistic Love, by Fr Sean Davison, who writes with profound insight on why she is always depicted at the foot of the Cross, along with Our Lady and St John, and why she was the first person mentioned in the Gospels as meeting the Resurrected Christ.

Although the only other thing we know about this saint is that she came from Magdala and that seven devils were expelled from her, Fr Davidson makes an excellent case for arguing that she is also the sinful woman mentioned in St Luke’s Gospel, as well as Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. Although he writes that we do not have to accept this conflation and the Gospels do not make it clear, ancient tradition argues for this identification. It is only 20th century biblical scholarship which believes there were three separate women.

Whatever one’s views, St Mary Magdalene is clearly a very great saint, worthy of study. The fact that she was released from spiritual possession would have been enough for a soul “created with a special capacity to love intensely” to undergo a radical interior change. As Davidson tells us, “There comes a moment of grace in every sinner’s life, when he must make some choice upon which his salvation depends”.

St Mary Magdalene, to whom Christ gave the immense privilege of being the first person to announce his Resurrection, ahead of the chosen apostles, clearly made the choice to spend the rest of her life in adoration of the God who had rescued her from darkness and slavery to sin.

Expanding on the life of this saint, the author makes some important observations suited to all of us, such as his conviction that if we are prepared to spend time with Our Lord in silent thanksgiving after Mass (rather than starting to chat loudly while still in church which seems to be the general habit), “the Lord will put up with all the sacrileges, outrages and indifferences with which he is offended.”

He also describes two examples of radical conversion through the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle. The first was that of the famous French atheist journalist, Andre Frossard, who entered by chance a chapel of Eucharistic adoration, noticed the monstrance on the altar and “instantly received an intellectual infusion of the mysteries of the holy Catholic Faith”. The second concerns a parish which the author himself has visited, where the parish priest was prepared to do anything to bring about perpetual Eucharistic adoration in his church.

This was because of the holy life of a late parishioner who, during a period of wholesale secularisation in France, had obtained a key to the church from his pastor and who from then on, every Thursday evening, “would spend the entire night prostrate before the tabernacle”, despite the bitter cold in the winter; “For decades he kept the grace of Eucharistic adoration alive in this region” Davidson recounts.

The author concludes with an appeal: if we really believed in the living presence of Christ in the tabernacle you “would drop this book right now and run like Mary Magdalene to your nearest adoration chapel!” It is simply a book to read and to re-read.