The Vatican announced today that Pope Francis has elevated the status of celebration St. Mary Magdalene, July 22nd on the Roman Catholic Church’s liturgical calendar, from that of a “memorial” to a “feast,” in recognition of her role as the first witness to Christ’s resurrection and as a “true and authentic evangelizer.”
A decree formalizing the decision was published by the Congregation for Divine Worship June 10 along with an article explaining its significance.
Both the decree and the article were titled “Apostolorum Apostola” (“Apostle of the Apostles”).
In the article for the Vatican newspaper, Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary of the congregation, wrote that in celebrating “an evangelist who proclaims the central joyous message of Easter,” St. Mary Magdalene’s feast day is a call for all Christians to “reflect more deeply on the dignity of women, the new evangelization and the greatness of the mystery of divine mercy.”
“Pope Francis has taken this decision precisely in the context of the Jubilee of Mercy to highlight the relevance of this woman who showed great love for Christ and was much loved by Christ,” Archbishop Roche wrote.
While most liturgical celebrations of individual saints during the year are known formally as memorials, those classified as feasts are reserved for important events in Christian history and for saints of particular significance, such as the Twelve Apostles.
The Book of Common Prayer includes The Feast St. Mary Magdelene as one of the Holy Days of the Episcopal Church.