The painting below, which dates from the eighteenth century, shows the later Mary Magdalen. Tradition has it that she travelled to France and lived a life of prayer as a hermit in a cave. So we see her here, surrounded by images of contemplative life – a cross, a rosary – as well as the closed jar of ointment which is always associated with her. Above her reclining figure are symbols of Paradise, such as birds and animals, and angels bearing musical texts and playing the harp. She has reached Paradise even in this life, like the early Fathers of the Desert.

May she pray for us in our own journeys of prayer, and may God bless you.