Mary Magdalene - Invitation to Love Copyright 2010 Janet McKenzie
“Mary Magdalene - Invitation to Love” is by contemporary artist Janet McKenzie. This beautiful piece is a new image of Mary of Magdalene and rich with the symbolism surrounding her. (See more below.)
The artist says it best - Mary Magdalene, beloved the world over, serves as a source of hope and courage, illuminating the role of women in the story of salvation. After Jesus’ Ascension into heaven Mary Magdalene traveled to the Emperor Tiberius Caesar in Rome to proclaim the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. With an egg in hand she spoke for the first time what is now the universal Easter proclamation - “Christ is risen!” The emperor said that Jesus had no more risen than the egg in her hand was red. At these words the egg turned red - a sign from God reflecting the truth of her message. Mary Magdalene, the first one sent to proclaim the Resurrection, was faithful to Jesus’ vision of the realm of God in which all are included and justice reigns.
In the fall of 2012 the community voted to affiliate with the
national Ecumenical Catholic Communion using a symbol
of Mary Magdalene announcing the resurrection of Christ
to the Apostles – a beautiful psalter and part of a 12th
In 2016, the leadership council sought the community’s input
to identify artwork and symbols to represent our patron saint
and reflect our calling “to live the Gospel of liberation and
justice.” Twelve submissions were received and a two-stage
voting process conducted.
More on Symbolism
Color -- The rich red tones artists often used to depict Mary of Magdalene had different meanings throughout history. But to summarize the updated history, Mary of Magdala was a well to do independent woman thought to be a merchant of dyed cloth. Reds in religious traditions represented agape love – charity, martyrdom, sacrifice and redemption.
The Egg – In many countries it is tradition to dye and share colorful eggs during the Easter season. Eggs represent birth and new life and in Christian history, new life with the resurrection. This tradition is supported by the story of Mary Magdalene. Following the death and resurrection of Jesus, Mary Magdalene attended a banquet given by the Roman Emperor Tiberius. During the banquet, Tiberius challenged Mary on the claim Jesus had risen from the dead. “He could no more rise from the dead than that egg could turn to red.” She picked up the egg and before he finished speaking, the egg turned bright red and she proclaimed the resurrection and gospel of Jesus.
The Rose – The rose is part of innumerable secular and religious legends. Depending on color and type, the rose can depict love, sacrifice, passion, transformation and joy but always a revered symbol. Even the Catholic rosary was originally made from dried rose petals dried and rolled into beads. Even the round rose windows and stain glass were created in the domes of churches to represent completeness and balance. For Mary of Magdalene, the rose is a symbol of sacrifice, agape love and transformation.