Relic of Saint Mary Magdalene...Makes First North American Tour

Oct 21, 2009, 10:00 ET from Relics of the Saints

NEW YORK, Oct. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A relic of Saint Mary Magdalene, often referred to as the Apostle of the Apostles, is making its first North American tour. The relic, a major piece of her tibia, will be carried in a reliquary to the United States by Father Thomas Michelet, a French Dominican priest. Its first stop is on October 22nd in Gainesville, Georgia at Saint Michael's Catholic Church where it will be venerated all through the night.'sitinerary

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The purpose of the tour, which continues through November 30th, and travels to Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, New York and Florida, is to share the holiness of the relic and to tell the story of the saint who is recorded as the first witness to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Father Thomas Michelet is touring with the permission of Bishop Dominique Rey of Frejus-Toulon, France, the relic's home. A letter of authentication from Bishop Rey reports that the relics were hidden at the time of the Saracen invasions and rediscovered in 1279, and have been venerated without interruption ever since.

Richard Borgman, a former Protestant evangelical pastor who experienced a dramatic conversion to Catholicism seven years ago, initiated the tour. His interest in Mary Magdalene began when he and his wife, also a lay missionary, lived with Bishop Dominic Rey below the mountains of Saint Baume, the grotto where Mary Magdalene spent the last 30 years of her life. Saint Baume means holy perfume-- the smell that Mary Magdalene's bones gave off when they were found.

As for the authenticity of the relics, Borgman says, "The tradition of the Church is historically pretty close to being infallible in this area. King Louis XIV crawled on his knees up the mountains to venerate the relics of Mary Magdalene; and the princes of Europe and their ladies and the Queens made special pilgrimages to this grotto in the 1200s."

For centuries the relics were missing - disappearing from about 710 A.D. when the Saracens pillaged the South of France and the Church hid sacred objects to safeguard them. Then in 1279, they were discovered by Charles II of Anjou in a crypt of a chapel in the town of St. Maximin in a sarcophagus that did not have her name but that contained a piece of old parchment dated 710 A.D., that said, 'Here lies the body of Mary Magdalene.'

Upon discovering the bones, Charles II sealed the crypt and gathered all the Bishops for an official opening and inspection. All of the bones including the skull were found intact. The only missing bone was the lower jaw bone which was later found and identified by the Pope as the same jawbone that had been venerated, for centuries, as the jawbone of Mary Magdalene, at Saint John Lateran Church in Rome.

Two years ago, this relic traveled to the city of Forteleza in Brazil. It was carried into a huge cathedral by four firemen. Richard Borgman was there and witnessed the event: "There were thousands of people who were screaming and cheering and laughing and crying and jumping in the air. This is the holiness of Mary Magdalene and this is why I wanted to bring the relic to the United States."

What does he hope to see happen as a result of this tour? "I think we will see a joining of the Catholic Church in the United States around the holiness of Mary Magdalene. She is still affecting people today; tens of thousands of people come to Saint Baume to venerate her bones."

    Contact: Sabina Clarke
    (215) 247-8566
    cell (215) 908-7960

SOURCE Relics of the Saints

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