Israel: Christians flock to Magdala on Feast Day of Mary Magdalene

More than 300 Arab Christians, diplomatic corps, and religious leaders in the Holy Land, gathered for the Feast Day of Mary Magdalene at her hometown. It was the first time Magdala hosted the official feast day for the first witness of Jesus' Resurrection, since the decree of Pope Francis on June 10th, 2016. A solemn Mass was presided over by HE Mgr Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Auxiliary Bishop to the Latin Patriarchate in Israel.

The Mass and ceremony took place in the Boat Chapel Duc In Altum centre, which has an altar depicting a first century boat. During the Mass, Marcuzzo emphasized the commitment of the Catholic Church to women: "It is an amazing step on behalf the Catholic Church, to elevate the memory of Mary Magdalene to a feast. She was considered as an Apostle to the Apostles and as such, she was the first witness of the Resurrection and the first woman to spread the Good News. I thank the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement - the priests, consecrated women and volunteers who take care of this holy place. You have done a wonderful job and the local and universal church, thank you!"

The Bishop remarked that Mary Magdalene was not the sinner that many people think, but simply a tormented person from whom seven demons were expelled.

There is a strong connection between Magdala as the Jewish hometown of Mary Magdalene and the historical context of her Saviour. The holy site is committed to preserve and continue researching the archaeological finds at the site. Also, the construction of the guest house, visitor center, and the Magdalena Institute, will impact the local community, her many visitors and pilgrims in a positive way.

Father Juan Solana LC, Director of Magdala said: "When Pope Francis declared the elevation of St Mary Magdalene to a feast day, he wanted to honour women. I think Mary Magdalene is an example for all current women. Indirectly we have felt responsible to steward this site for all Christians, and I would say for all peoples since the discovery of the first century town of Magdala."

At the beginning of the construction of a guest house, archaeologists stumbled across the remains of a first century Jewish town. Soon all evidence was clear that it was the ancient Magdala /Taricheae. This was the home town of Mary Magdalene as well as military headquarters of the renowned first Century historian - Flavius Josephus, in the Galilee. Initially the project redirected its plans and funds towards the archaeology and its research. So far, the excavation consists of 4,595 sq. feet and there is at least eighty percent more of the town to unearth.

Magdala is already on the itinerary of many pilgrimages and tours and is fast becoming a must stop for visitors to the Holy Land. Tripadvisor has ranked Magdala as the first place to visit in Galilee because of its service and attention to the public. So far, it has received 140,000 visitors and is expecting to have 60,000 more in the remaining months of 2016. The archaeological discoveries at Magdala strengthen historical bonds between Jews and Christians.

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Tags: Magdala, Mary Magdalene, Mgr Giacinto Boulos Marcuzzo

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