This week I received my beautiful Praying Mary Magdalene.
It is a Sterling Silver Milagros ~ from the South Americas. I have never seen a Mary Magdalene one before. Milagros are small mass-produced little votive’s, often in the shape of hands and feet, and are used as a vehicle of prayer. A couple of years ago I went to a brilliant exhibition where I witnessed these milagros pinned on to imitations of the Saints vestments and garments. They were offered up in prayer, in the hope that the Saint would intercede in miracle for the intentions of the faithful. This same exhibition hosted many tin roof tiles, often taken from the homes of the poor (by themselves), and painted with the scenes of the story depicting the miracles that had taken place. These scenes were painted in gratitude for the Saints intercession.
My milagros came on Saturday ~ it is beautiful ~ it is Mary Magdalene in prayer ~ and I Love her. I wore her to the vigil Mass. We prayed and offered up Mass together. I have prayed with Mary Magdalene ever since the bizarrely spiritual encounter beneath her painting at the Brompton Oratory, which left me feeling deeply understood. And yet after the shock encounter I had to walk away ~ as I felt that had I stood there any longer I would have been visibly exposed. And I have meditated upon the Gospels many times with her since.
She shares the intimately secret movements of my heart ~ and she has accompanied me in the most surprising of ways ~ a way which I could never have imagined or expected at the outset of my journey. And it is my hope that knowing the secret movements of my heart that she will somehow intercede for me, which seems the strangest thing to ask for, because I feel so close to Christ ~ to ask anyone to intercede feels ridiculous ~ however it appears to be an intimately Sisterly exchange, that she will help me ~ and that I will help her † And that both of us in doing so, will be doing so for our beloved †
In deepest sisterhood and faith I wear her on a chain around my neck.
‘Milagros (also known as an ex-voto or dijes or promesas) are religious folk charms that are traditionally used for healing purposes and as votive offerings in Mexico, the southern United States, other areas of Latin America, and parts of the Iberian peninsula. They are frequently attached to altars, shrines, and sacred objects found in places of worship, and they are often purchased in churches and cathedrals, or from street vendors.
Milagros come in a variety of shapes and dimensions and are fabricated from many different materials, depending on local customs. For example, they might be nearly flat or fully three-dimensional; and they can be constructed from gold, silver, tin, lead, wood, bone, or wax. In Spanish, the word milagro literally means miracle or surprise.
The use of milagros is a folk custom in parts of North, Central, and South America traceable to ancient Iberians who inhabited the coastal regions of Spain. The use of milagros accompanied the Spanish as they arrived in Central and South America. Although the custom is not as prevalent as it once was, the use of milagros or ex-votos continues to be a part of folk culture throughout rural areas of Spain—particularly Andalusia, Catalonia, and Majorca.
As part of a religious ritual or an act of devotion, milagros can be offered to a symbol of a saint as a reminder of a petitioner’s particular need, or in gratitude for a prayer answered. They are used to assist in focusing attention towards a specific ailment, based on the type of charm used. Milagro symbolism is not universal; a milagro of a body part, such as a leg, might be used as part of a prayer or vow for the improvement of a leg; or it might refer to a concept such as travel. Similarly, a heart might represent ideas as diverse as a heart condition, a romance, or any number of other interpretations. Milagros are also carried for protection and good luck.
In addition to religious and ritual applications, milagros are often found as components in necklaces, earrings and other jewellery.
They correspond almost exactly to the tamata used in the Eastern Orthodox Churches.’
On my first ever recent quiet time retreat to Walsingham, I ventured into the charming little railway station ~ Russian Orthodox Church ~ and there I saw the only gift that depicted Saint Mary Magdalene (a postcard). I brought it. I find it such a frustration that in most of the repository shops from here to Rome, there are never any devotional items for sale which depict Saint Mary Magdalene. Why not? She and Our Lady walked everywhere with the Lord ~ They were closest companions.
Whilst there, I lit a candle with Christ ~ and I touched my hand on his heart and I prayed my prayer. (When I pray at Mass, it is as if I hold my own heart in my cupped hands, and I offer it, and all it contains, up to Jesus) ~ And as if tangibly received and magnified, it was as if invisibly but radiantly he took it, and my heart shone out through his hands ~ and in through my camera lens ~ and back out to me, where in miracle light it visibly revealed His response upon the screen ~ as if to say . . . .
‘I am with you ~ I am holding your Love and My Love ~ and Love is all that is needed for prayer to be answered.’
And there as bright as anything reflected that Love ~ and in it my deepest prayers.
Maybe I will share my beautiful Walsingham time with you in another post.
It was beautiful.
But just for now I want to savour it.