The Skull of Mary Magdalene

By on January 22, 2015

Is this the skull of Mary Magdalene? For centuries people have flocked to the Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume basilica in France for a glimpse of Mary’s bones.
The skull of Mary Magdalene encased in a bizarre golden reliquary in the basilica of St. Maximin in France
The relics of Mary Magdalene encased in a bizarre golden reliquary

In the year 1279, excavations of the crypt beneath a small church in St. Maximin in France uncovered 1st century tombs along with a surprising find: a sarcophagus made of marble. Charles II, the Count of Provence who led the excavation, claims he was spurred to do so by a dream in which Saint Mary Magdalene appeared to him.

When the sarcophagus was opened, a “wonderful and very sweet smell” was noted by all present to emanate from inside, which they believed to be symbolic of the the perfume Mary Magdalene poured on the feet of Jesus before his death.

The sarcophagus of Mary Magdalene in the crypt beneath St. Maximin basilica
The sarcophagus of Mary Magdalene in the crypt beneath St. Maximin basilica

The skeletal remains, from which were missing the jaw and lower leg bones, were accompanied by a papyrus note. The text read:

The year of the birth of the Lord 710, the sixth day of December, at night and very secretly, under the reign of the very pious Eudes, king of the Franks, during the time of the ravages of the treacherous nation of the Saracens, the body of the dear and venerable St. Mary Magdalene was, for fear of the said treacherous nation, moved from her alabaster tomb to the marble tomb, after having removed the body of Sidonius, because it was more hidden.

There was also a wood tablet covered in wax, inscribed with the words “Hic requiescit corpus beatae Mariae Magdalenae.” It was estimated to be made between the 1st and 4th centuries.


Provence tradition holds that Mary Magdalene, along with Lazarus and Martha (and a child fathered by Jesus, according to Holy Blood, Holy Grail), fled to the south of France to avoid persecution in a small boat without sails or oars. Miraculously, they landed on the shores of Gaul at a place now called Saintes Maries de la Mer. They continued to spread the gospel and Lazarus conducted baptisms.

Mary eventually retreated to a secluded mountain cave, where she lived in penance until she died. Now known as the grotto, or La Baume of Mary Magdalene, Christians have been making pilgrimages to the site since the 5th century.

The relics of Mary Magdalene on display in the Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume basilica in France
Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume basilica with the relics of Mary Magdalene on the altar

Upon discovery of the tomb, Charles II built a grand basilica, Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume, in place of the old church. There, the supposed relics of St. Mary Magdalene are still on display. The skull, now complete with a mandible thanks to Pope Boniface VIII, are displayed behind glass in a reliquary of golden, flowing locks of hair.

Procession carries the relics of Mary Magdalene around town prior to the feast
Annual procession carries the bones of Mary Magdalene around town

Every year on the Sunday closest to the feast of Mary Magdalene on July 22nd, a gold mask is affixed to the reliquary and a procession carries the macabre idol around the town.

Though the majority of the remains believed to be Mary Magdalene have been missing since they were stolen by Barras during the French Revolution in 1794, there are still a few remaining pieces that garner a lot of attention. A shard of her tibia can sometimes be seen on tour, and one of her teeth in an ornate reliquary is on view at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

53 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Stan Current

    July 22, 2018 at 5:52 pm

    Thank You Dear People of The Cult of Weird for posting this excellent essay of St. Mary Magdalene. I trust you know there is nothing weird about Mary. Only those who disparage her. It is very possible that these remains are hers. Whether they are or aren’t, it is still in reverence for her. We would do well to honor her by remembering what she said.

    We can be loved by Jesus and have visions of Him, if we can have humility and gnosis of the evil in us as she did, as Jesus taught. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+15&version=NIV

    It is how we can be delivered from all evil.

    St. John Paul II was right to remind us that Jesus made St. Mary Magdalene The Apostle to the Apostles. He appeared to her first for good reason. They were forever forgetting what Jesus said, even arguing like Pharisees as to who was greatest while looking down on the rest of us, even lowly repentants like Mary, whom Jesus exalted above all. They all ran, except for her and St. John. St. Peter would be jealous of Mary.

    In the epic movie Jesus of Nazareth directed by Franco Zeffirelli, when the apostles are hiding in fear when Jesus was crucified, Peter cries out, “We’ve all betrayed Him!”

    Would we betray, deny and abandon Jesus, even crucify Him with a kiss?

    Maybe knowing how we could, we wouldn’t?

    Why do we “turn away,” or even turn against God?

    Too many scholars act like certain apostles in their disdain for Mary, ignoring their misogyny and those of her era who suppressed and disparaged any writing or beliefs that didn’t agree with theirs. Same as it is to this day. Pretty sad.

    The wisdom of Mary’s writings and why Jesus loved her most of all is sadly and tragically missed. We need to have gnosis or knowledge of the evil that can come out of our heart as Jesus said.

    How well do we know our lust, wrath, greed, jealousy and all else? Pride is the worst.

    Yahweh sent The Flood because of Man’s Lust and Wrath. He may send The Fire as He said to keep Man from destroying the Earth with war, overpopulation, pollution and fossil fuels.

    Jung confirmed what Jesus said and reminded us in his final interview. The more we are aware or conscious of our vice, vanity and iniquity, we are less likely to succumb. It’s why we need the redeemer, for our souls to ascend the planetary spheres of adverse influence and overcome our “Ignorance” or unconsciousness of what we do in thought, word and deed as Mary indicated.

    It’s how we can know God, and Goddess, or both.

    Jung once simply said to know how much good and evil we’re capable of. The Serpent on the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil indicated as much. Eve was very brave in seeking this knowledge or gnosis. But few care to realize their Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, or Ms. Hyde personalities and all the elements of our psyche.

    “Man is the great danger!” exclaimed Jung. “His psyche should be studied.”

    We need to study our psyche as Jung studied his and many others in understanding all we feel and experience. Dreams are indispensable. Jung saw there is light in the darkness and Symbols of Transformation, unlike Freud. Spiritual Alchemists saw this long before transforming their base nature into Heavenly Gold. “Purge the horrible darkness from our minds! Light a light for our senses!” Jung’s vision of a bright, greenish gold crucifix perplexed him until he realized that for many of these learned women and men, Jesus was their Philosopher’s Stone or transforming substance.

    Who else but St. Thomas Aquinas would write Aurora Consurgens?
    (The Rising Dawn, symbolic of awareness or consciousness of God)

    Confession is only a start. We need to get to the root causes as Jesus and Mary did.

    The Devil is not to blame. It’s our demonic ego. God put the Serpent on the Tree for a reason.

    Will God ever punish the Devil for our sins? Who would punish us then?

    Dante was right about The Inferno, especially for clergy who mislead as Jesus warned. How could Dante have known what the Gnostic Christ had said? His beloved Beatrice must’ve come back from the dead to warn him who was then good to warn us.

    God clearly tests and tempts us that we might know what can come out of us. He will grant Satan his wish as with St. Peter if we fail to or think we can overcome evil ourselves, even make Satan fall like lighting from the sky like Peter. He knew Satan had his wish. Why didn’t he ask Jesus’ help as when he almost drowned? Pride is most deadliest.

    Can we save ourselves? Why did Yahweh send His Son?

    Who alone is good?

    Who did Jesus give all thanks to for His deliverance?

    Peter received the first sacraments, promises of Heaven and professed his love for Jesus to the death. What will help us? Maybe realizing our pride by asking Jesus’ help, unlike Peter?

    The lesson of St. Peter’s Denial has yet to be learned. (my forthcoming book). Sin is largely a denial of the evil in us, but also a denial of Jesus, the good who came to be among us, whom Mary realized.

    Jesus warned us to His dying day to always pray for deliverance.

    There is an evil that can never be cast out. Only us.

    Symbolically, Peter is the Rock in us all, if we can see how we are like him in our righteous rage and pride. In this way Peter holds the keys to Jesus’ Church in us. He could remember he was a sinful man when he died as when he first met Jesus. Will we?

    The Kingdom of Heaven is within as Jesus said, that religious elders keep us from knowing, not even going in themselves. Jung had to help more than few with their nightmares of being trapped in a cold, dark empty church. It is in having experience of divinity in us and all the elements of our psyche, such as St. Mary Magdalene had, that we can be saved.

    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+23%3A13&version=NIV

    If women had equality, would the Church and Christian religions have the history they have? Would we? Jesus clearly warned against living by the sword, harming children and covering things up.

    Perhaps if the misogynist St. Paul had answered Jesus’ question, the Church and Christian religions wouldn’t have persecuted Jesus, too. Neither would we.

    St. Mary Magdalene knew. And yet, she was exiled for knowing or having gnosis.

    Is it mere coincidence that some of the greatest women saints are from France, like St. Joan of Arc and St. Marguerite Porete?

    Joan knew that God must be served first, if there’s any hope of ever being in a state of grace. The cry of all prophets, especially Jesus. More importantly, we can never claim to being in a state of grace as she wisely said: “If I am in a state of grace, I pray God keep me there. If I am not, I pray God lead me there.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_of_Arc

    St. Marguerite will never be recognized by the Church as a saint. And yet, she and her Beguine nuns knew that Jesus is The Mirror of Simple Souls and peace that surpasses all understanding. They chose to be burned to death with her book rather than burn it themselves. Marguerite’s dialogue between the Soul and Reason is interestingly similar to Mary’s dialogues in overcoming Ignorance, our unconsciousness of what can come out of us and make us evil.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marguerite_Porete

    Blessings to all who honor St. Mary Magdalene, especially on this 22 July 2018, in remembering her and being like her in having gnosis of the evil in us, as Jesus said.

    It is how we can be loved by Jesus and have visions of Him to be delivered from all evil.

    Jung: We need more psychology(3:13):
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udc9FGGt9lo

    Jung: I know God exists(0:27):
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJ25Ai__FYU

    Jung: Full Interview(39:27):

  2. Avatar

    Immanuel Velaphi Mathenjwa kaMahlambi

    June 27, 2018 at 4:03 am

    All these idiotic fools who just open their mouths without fact should just keep their mouths shut, and then go back to school to learn!
    One other thing, people please, go read the Bible – especially “THE TEN COMMANDMENTS – (MOST ESPECIALLY, THE 1st & THE 4th )” – then you will understand what YAHWEH ADONAI ELOHEINU really wants from us all!
    THOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, MIND BODY AND SOUL – now this is THE MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL!!!
    READ THE BIBLE PEOPLE PLEASE – & STOP LISTENING TO EVERY TOM, DICK & HARRY!!!!!!!
    MAY YAHWEH ADONAI ELOHEINU BLESS U ALL PROFOUNDLY!!!!!!!

    • Avatar

      Phillip

      July 8, 2018 at 12:39 pm

      Read the bible? An interesting comment. What about all the other manuscripts that were not included because they were inconvenient to the “Churchianity” that Constantine and the Church of Rome wanted to promulgate for their own reasons?

    • Avatar

      Gregory M Andrews

      September 3, 2018 at 11:12 am

      please remember that nobody will ever understand the sayings mysteries and stories of the bible. I believe 14 books are missing. And its written in parables. So nobody will ever figure it out

    • Avatar

      Lion of Judah

      February 7, 2019 at 4:06 pm

      Did you not read what was written?.Where do you, as a self righteous moral high grounder find the innate hubris to mock the sincerity of others?. Within your apparent blessing is scorn and dismissal of differing views.Perhaps you should read the Bible.”Judge not lest ye be judged”.

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    Cozmic Firefly

    March 30, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    Mary is in fact the queen of Jesus, she is the Lion of God, Goddess of the moon, his reflection, his balance, his rose. She is the perfect imperfection, the persistence to his patience. But she is not to be worshiped. Only God should be worshiped. For she will not save you, but he will.

    • Avatar

      James

      August 16, 2018 at 3:42 pm

      http://www.essene.org/home.html

      Essene Church of God records YahuSha gifted Merriam with a Blue Rose the night before his arrest subsequently her followers being called Order of the Blue Rose.

    • Avatar

      Greg

      September 3, 2018 at 11:15 am

      People pray for her intervention. Not too her

  4. Avatar

    MMfangirl

    March 8, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    I am such a fan of Mary Magdalene! Whether or not the skull belongs to The Mary Magdalene I think it would be awesome to see the reconstruction of the person’s face.

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    Zanasso Paolo

    September 26, 2017 at 12:17 am

    The same for me. I am Italian. I know a lot of secret of the vatican by fonts sure and anonymous. Compare this at our Watergate or other and multiplicate x100000 (the fact is this : all the world is eared in secret not by America. Is the V. . This have a quantistic computer and the mole of data generated is not a problem, his have a new quant type of processor in grade of understand if a conversion important NOT using a database His doted of artificial inteligence, is autocounsces, is dangerous. Recently, the major scientists of the world havent proclamed the immediate stop at ulterior tests on Artificial inteligence because the consequences of this type of experiment are unknown and dangerous

    • Avatar

      prem

      June 29, 2018 at 4:21 pm

      Hi Zanasso,

      May I have some of the secrets of Vatican.

  6. Avatar

    Mary C Donahue

    July 22, 2017 at 7:31 am

    No one mentioned that the story is wrong from the point of “and a child fathered by Jesus ” !!!!
    This seems to be a mixture of lies & truth .
    To find the truth seek it in the places that lead to the Church,not on “weird” websites .

    • Avatar

      Ken

      July 22, 2017 at 5:28 pm

      According to Dan Brown in is book. Mary Magdalene. Is entombed in the lovre.paris.
      I would love go to pay homage to her.so where is she intoumed…not only for me. But a lot others would are seeking the truth.for is she not the chalice….

      • Avatar

        Eric

        September 13, 2017 at 12:45 pm

        Uhhh. Dan Browns books are in the fiction section if you haven’t noticed.

      • Avatar

        Mike Cola

        July 19, 2018 at 10:36 am

        There are many secrets involving Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Many authors say that she traveled to France/Gaul and that she may have been Jesus’ wife who had his child(ren) We may never know the truth in this life. There was a royal family who ruled in Europe called the Merovingians who claimed to be descended from Jesus.

        We know that the contents New Testament were decided in a questionable manner. According to some historical record the Epistles of Paul continued to be written after his death! In the Dead Sea Scrolls there are Gospels of Mary, Timothy and others thought to be nonexistent.

      • Avatar

        Lion of Judah

        February 11, 2019 at 3:15 am

        Dan Brown’s book is FICTION.A novel written without scholarly knowledge of early Christianity.

    • Avatar

      Mags Errands

      July 24, 2017 at 7:19 am

      Jesus was called Rabbi. Only married men were referred as such. There’s a lot that was cut from the Bible in 400AD

    • Avatar

      Cynthia Taylor

      December 13, 2017 at 2:36 pm

      Yeshua and Mary Magdalene had three children, the first being Sara, the second named James after Yeshua’s brother and Joseph named after Joseph Been Jacob and Joseph of Arimathea who was Mary Magdalene’s father and Yeshua’s uncle and father-in-law. Mary Magdalene and Yeshua we’re first cousins. Mary Anna, Yeshua’s mother was the twelth child of Joachim and Anna. Anna delivered her grandson one hour after midnight, after the Passover in the spring in the month of April in the year 4BC his true birthday. Read Anna, grandmother of Jesus.

      • Avatar

        Barbara Angelaklis

        March 24, 2018 at 9:44 am

        Cynthia brilliant, so similar to the information that I have received except for the names of the boys and the relationship of Joseph of Arimathea, I though you could not name a baby after a living person in the Jewish religion. can you clarify? also where are you located, I am in north jersey.

      • Avatar

        Lion of Judah

        February 11, 2019 at 3:21 am

        Where did this information come from?.There are no references to these dates or lineages in any of the orthodox Roman, Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic texts from the 1st to 4th centuries that I know of.Even so, ancient history is a puzzle full of missing fragments.

    • Avatar

      James

      July 5, 2018 at 3:25 am

      Think you’ll find church and weird websites making outlandish claims with no evidence are on of the same.
      People will believe anything!!

  7. Avatar

    Isuode

    July 20, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    I don’t think there is any real way that her bones could survive, even to their ‘discovery date’ – that and a papyrus note seems sketch. Methinks this is yet another case of a false or set up idol, ‘discovered’ to ensure income and fame for a town that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.

  8. Avatar

    stevenweaver

    July 13, 2017 at 6:20 am

    steven weaver croydon surrey england 13/07/2017 i believe in the father, son, and holy spirit, and the holy catholic church, this is the true skull of mary magdalene and of her remains and of the stone grave it also proves that the bible is a living history not a myth as many in the world would like to believe may jesus christ and mary mother of god bless and be with you all

  9. Avatar

    Philip bartholomew

    June 29, 2017 at 10:25 am

    Let him without sin cast the first stone.????

  10. Avatar

    Philip bartholomew ramsey

    June 29, 2017 at 10:16 am

    Be carefull, I believe in the father.the son an the holy sprit

  11. Avatar

    Mike

    April 17, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    Some of these comments are hilarious! I Mean its all fictional, but still. Some of yall made my day.

    • Avatar

      William Celcer

      April 22, 2017 at 3:37 pm

      Mike..though I’m not a particularly religious person..read the book Holy Blood, Holy Grail. Fascinating book that Dan Brown borrowed heavily from for his book..The Da Vinci Code. The book (through tons of research) makes a completing argument that Jesus and Mary were married and had a child. That Mary was in fact the Holy Grail and that the blood line of Jesus continues to this day.

      • Avatar

        Phantom

        July 25, 2017 at 11:01 pm

        “Holy Blood Holy Grail” is based on a hoax and “The DaVinci Code” is fiction. The whole idea that MM travelled to France is ridiculous. Why – to escape the Romans? A large chunk of it was part of the Empire and I seriously doubt you’d survive 5 minutes – the locals wouldn’t have been that pleasant, especially to foreigners and it wasn’t really the sunny cultured holiday destination we imagine today! Would MM and her pals even know of Gaul? If they wanted to escape the Empire (for whatever reason) surely it would’ve made more sense to head East towards the Parthians. All of these beliefs – like Joseph of Arimathea taking the Grail to England – is myth making propaganda invented long ago.

        • Avatar

          Daryl

          June 6, 2018 at 10:44 am

          How do know what’s fact from fiction just because it’s not writen as fact does not mean it not true get fact wright

        • Avatar

          Lion of Judah

          February 11, 2019 at 3:40 am

          Very good points.However, merchant sea travel across the Mediterranean was well established in the 1st century, making a migration to France possible, albeit unlikely or unusual.It is plausible that Mary was seeking refuge and a new life delivering the Gospels far from Jerusalem.After all, St.Thomas is believed to have reached India in this era.These journeys took several weeks to reach the provinces of present day Italy, Spain, or Southern France, with many ports en route.

  12. Avatar

    Irma

    April 9, 2017 at 11:48 pm

    Please forgive them.. Please pray for my family. Mary m.. I love you

  13. Avatar

    Darius Gerard Panteene

    March 1, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    Pray for me Mary Magdalene

  14. Avatar

    Darius

    March 1, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    Wow, God is great. Pls pray for me Mary magdalene

  15. Avatar

    Bernard

    February 8, 2017 at 10:02 am

    It’s an article people

  16. Avatar

    Sharanya .k.k

    November 26, 2016 at 3:57 am

    Mary Magdalene was a friend of Jesus .lets respect that and pray to her so that she can interced for us .

    • Avatar

      Matthew foley

      March 27, 2017 at 9:00 pm

      Wife. You meant she was a wife to Yeshua right?

    • Avatar

      Jacob M Smiley

      March 27, 2017 at 9:14 pm

      I was under the impression she was a prostitute of sorts?

      • Avatar

        Lakesha

        April 16, 2017 at 2:26 pm

        No, there is another Mary mentioned in the gospels, different person. That she was Mary Magdalene is a misconception created and perpetuated within a certain tradition.

      • Avatar

        saurav kumar

        September 6, 2017 at 3:12 am

        rediculous… if u dont know the story dont say anybody prostitute. go and learn book called DEMONS AND THE KING

  17. Avatar

    Jacob Smiley

    August 26, 2016 at 11:32 am

    Why are her teeth so sharp? Just curious.

    • Avatar

      aRcaNum (@Arcanum55)

      October 26, 2016 at 3:36 pm

      Those aren’t her teeth, those are where the teeth are missing from.

      • Avatar

        Jacob M Smiley

        March 27, 2017 at 9:13 pm

        Thanks. Looked odd for some reason.

  18. Avatar

    saeshae

    August 1, 2016 at 3:10 am

    I personally think it’s disrespectful. She dead why can’t they just let her rest not dis respect her bones around town and move them in different countries. They wouldn’t want that happening to them so why do it to her. So rude let her rest in peace…

    • Avatar

      Richard

      October 20, 2016 at 10:39 am

      Its Catholic tradition.

  19. Avatar

    Where'sWaldo

    July 22, 2016 at 8:11 pm

    Between Pat and Pete, thanks for adding nothing. >:-( Kind of strange when people can’t just read an article and walk away if they don’t like it. Your personal fixations on excrement aside, it’s merely an interesting spot of longstanding historical tradition. Maybe the note in the casket was accurate, maybe not. Neither of your poopery makes the slightest bit of difference – except to show your own self-centered crassness. Enjoy your feces.

    • Avatar

      therealfotodienst

      July 25, 2016 at 8:41 am

      I really appreaciate your comment! How nasty, if some little boys cannot wave good-bye to their diapered youth. If they would have enjoyed any education, they just would shut up if they have nothing interesting to tell.

      By the way, my own comment was: It is so sad how many precious things have been destroyed in the Frech Revolution. I am just glad I wasn’t forced to exist in that time and that place. It would have killed me, even if THEY would NOT have killed me, to see all this hate and brutallity.

  20. Avatar

    tamtam

    February 11, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    Cool! I wonder if any miracles or unexplained events have been attributed to these remains being where they are

  21. Avatar

    mindsurfer1

    July 24, 2015 at 11:14 am

    Different strokes for different folks. They don’t seem to be bothering anyone.

  22. Avatar

    Pat Adams

    April 16, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    I just took a shit in the bowl….OMG !! it looks like Mary Mag !!!

  23. Avatar

    Pete

    March 20, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    sounds like a lot of shit to me lol 🙂

    • Avatar

      Ultrashiver

      April 7, 2015 at 7:32 pm

      What sounds like a lot of shit?

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