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Marie appelée la Magdaléenne (Marie, Marie-Madeleine)

Site historique consacré à Marie, surnommée "la Magdaléenne" (alias Marie de Magdala, alias Marie-Madeleine)

Which Mary is this?


Jesus and Mary

The stained glass window of Kilmore Church (Scotland)

Which Mary is this?

Jesus and Mary, detail (stained glass window, Kilmore Church, Scotland)

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Who is the female character represented in this stained glass? Is it Mary or Mary Magdalene? For those who claim that Mary Magdalene was Jesus’ mystical and sexual companion, there is no doubt that it is the second. And this is also how it is “announced” on several sites.

Example of a book published in 2018

This hypothesis is attractive but what is it really?

Description: the two characters are standing. The woman is at the right hand of Jesus who stands behind her and holds her right hand with his right hand. She is young, beautiful, is dressed in blue and seems to be pregnant. She has no halo and her eyes are closed.

Commentary: in traditional representations, Mary Magdalene, likened to an ex-prostitute, is frequently dressed in red to make her stand out. The Virgin Mary is usually draped in blue and/or white. But, unlike the woman represented here, her head is always surmounted by a halo or a crown. In addition, the singular detail of the closed eyes seems to indicate death.

To know more, it is essential to take a step back.


An over view allows us to see that the stained glass is relatively recent since it was made in 1904. It is dedicated to a certain “Mary Forrest of Ardow” by her sister Isabella D. Forrest Watson of Ardow. 

The biblical quote refers to Luke 10:42: “Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her”. It is not a question here of Mary Magdalene but of Mary of Bethany, Martha’s sister.


Explanation: this quote and this dedication, which allow us to re-situate this work in its context, will also allow us to advance another explanation: the woman present on the stained glass is indeed a “Mary” but it is not about a saint, hence the absence of a halo. This is Mary Forrest of Ardow, who died on October 23, 1904 (probably dead in childbirth), whom her sister Isabella had represented in the company of Jesus. He holds her right hand with his right hand, as if to guide her to Paradise[1]. Luke’s quote is well chosen: Mary has the same first name as Martha’s sister and, as a follower of Christ (Christian), she has, like her, “chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her”.

Thierry Murcia, PhD, March 21, 2018[2]

Paul-Albert Février Center (TDMAM-UMR 7297 / Aix-Marseille University-CNRS)


[1] Translator’s note: it is not an hand fasting tradition as previously written by the best selling author Kathleen McGowan who seems to be one of the first to speak of that stained glassed as a proof of marriage between Christ and Mary of Magdala and child descendant.

[2] Completed March 12, 2019, translated April-May, 2019.

Important details about the author of the stained glass window

Stephen Adam (d. 1910), stained-glass window, Kilmore Church, Dervaig, Isle of Mull, Scotland. The seven distinctive stained glass windows were designed and executed by Stephen Adam, a noted Victorian stained glass artist.  Stephen had close links with Mull.  His second wife came from the island where they were married in Kilmore church in November 1887 – this would have been in the former church. The windows were installed between 1905 and 1910 and each one is dedicated to the memory of a local person.


Image decoding


AdditiVE (03/04/2019)

Stained Glass from the same time:

Mary Magdalene (stained glass), Grace Church, New York City

Classically confused with Mary of Bethany and the anonymous sinner mentioned in Luke 7, the Madeleine is, on the contrary, immediately identifiable on this window of the Church of Grace (Manhattan) made in the 1880s and where the red color dominates. The Saint is wearing a long scarlet tunic. Her head, uncovered, is surmounted by a halo. Beautiful red hair serves as her finery and she holds in her right hand a perfume box (see Luke 7:38). We find our famous verse of Luke: “Mary hath chosen the better part” (10:42).

The same verse is mentioned on one of the stained glass windows of the Grace Episcopal Church (Providence, Rhode Island), dated 1891, which illustrates the episode recounted in Luke 10:38-42 of Jesus’ visit to Martha and her sister, Marry. This stained glass window is similarly dedicated by her family to a certain “Mary” –– Mary Earle Carlisle –– who died at the age of 21.

The full text of the article is available as a PDF document (free download)

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Val Wineyard 30/09/2019 09:40

Mary was called Magdalene after she lived in Magdala, probably because of an arranged marriage. She was the second daughter of Simon the Pharissee and "came home", ill with "seven devils" after her marriage broke up. She was the middle child, after her sister Martha and before her brother Lazarus.