St. Mary Magdalene is one of the most important figures in Jesus’ entourage. Since Saint Gregory the Great (6th century), the Church has seen in the forgiven sinner and Mary of Bethany one and the same woman: Mary Magdalene. It is Mary Magdalene who bathes Jesus’ feet with her tears and wipes them with her hair (Lk 7:36-50). It is Mary Magdalene who, according to the Gospel, was freed from seven demons (Lk 8:1-3). She is also the one to whom Jesus says that she chose the better part by listening to him while her sister is busy serving at table (Lk 10:38-42) and she is the one who pours precious perfume at the Lord’s feet (Jn 12:1-11). Last but not the least, Mary Magdalene was one of the few faithful who stayed with Jesus when he was crucified (Jn 19:25) and she was the first to see the Risen Lord (Jn 20:1-17), which earned her the title Apostle to the Apostles.
Her relic in Lisbon
According to tradition, shortly after the Ascension of Jesus Mary Magdalene embarked with some Christians including her brother Lazarus and her sister Martha for the West. They arrived in the South of France. Mary Magdalene accompanied Lazarus to Marseilles and then lived at Sainte-Baume to spend the last thirty years of her life in penance and contemplation.
Since the early centuries, Christians, penitents, saints, kings, and popes, have come to make their pilgrimage to the grotto of Sainte-Baume and pray to Saint Mary Magdalene. Since 1295, the Dominicans have been the guardians of this sanctuary and of the relics of Mary Magdalene. The piece of tibia exposed in Lisbon comes from these relics.
Prayer to Mary Magdalene
O Saint Mary Magdalene,
you who have been forgiven by Jesus,
you who loved much;
show us the way to true conversion
and purity of heart.
Out of love, you followed Jesus to serve him;
teach us to give our lives freely
for our brothers.
You were near the cross of Jesus
with Mary and John;
obtain for us the grace of faith and hope
in our trials.
On Easter morning, you received from Jesus the mission to announce
the resurrection to his disciples;
help us to believe that life is stronger than death and that love triumphs over all.
Through your intercession, we entrust to the Lord…
Saint Thomas of Aquinas
Saint Thomas was born in the region of Naples in 1225 or 1226. He entered the Dominicans in 1244, founded ten years earlier in Toulouse by Saint Dominic. He studied in Paris, then with St. Albert the Great in Cologne, after which he returned to Paris to teach. He then pursued a career of intense teaching and preaching which led him to hold many responsibilities in Italy and France. He was invited by the Pope as an expert to the Council of Lyon in 1274 but died exhausted, on the way to the Abbey of Fossanova, south of Rome. Saint Thomas was canonized on July 18, 1323. He was proclaimed Doctor of the Church by Pope Saint Pius V on April 15, 1567, and Doctor Common of the Church in 1923 by Pope Pius XI for the depth and accuracy of his theological writings.
His relic in Lisbon
Following the unexpected death of Saint Thomas in a Cistercian abbey, the Brothers encountered some difficulties in obtaining the return of the saint’s body from the monks who wanted to keep it. After a series of adventures and surreal disputes, the Dominicans finally won their case. Pope Urban V, in a bull dated June 16, 1368, granted their request and decided to transfer the body from Italy to the Jacobin convent in Toulouse. To mark the 700th anniversary of his canonization, and to facilitate the veneration of the faithful, the skull of Saint Thomas was placed in a new reliquary in 2023, which is the one on display in Lisbon during the WYD.
Saint Thomas Aquinas : prayer before Study
Creator of all things,
true Source of light and wisdom,
lofty origin of all being,
graciously let a ray of Your brilliance
penetrate into the darkness of my understanding
and take from me the double darkness
in which I have been born,
an obscurity of both sin and ignorance.
Give me a sharp sense of understanding,
a retentive memory,
and the ability to grasp things correctly and fundamentally.
Grant me the talent of being exact in my explanations,
and the ability to express myself with thoroughness and charm.
Point out the beginning,
direct the progress,
and help in completion;
through Christ our Lord.
Saint Thomas Aquinas : prayer for a Good Life
Grant O merciful God, that I may ardently desire, carefully examine, truly know and perfectly fulfil those things that are pleasing to You and to the praise and glory of Your holy name.
Direct my life, O my God, and grant that I might know what you would have me to do and for me to fulfil it as is necessary and profitable to my soul.