February 9th, 2011
A California-wide tour of St. Mary Magdalene relics has scheduled five stops in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
The itinerary includes stops Feb. 16 at St. Dominic Church in San Francisco; Feb. 19 at St. Thomas More Church in San Francisco; Feb. 20 at Vallombrosa Center and Corpus Christi Monastery, both in Menlo Park; and Feb. 27 at St. Francis of Assisi Church in East Palo Alto.
At St. Thomas More, the event will include a candlelight procession at 3 p.m. followed by Mass at 5. At St. Dominic, veneration will take place from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., with Mass at 5:30 and preaching and prayer at 9 p.m.
At Vallombrosa, veneration will be held at 9 a.m. with a candlelight procession at 10:30. At the monastery, Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m., with veneration after Mass until vespers at 5.
At St. Francis of Assisi, veneration will be held from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Paula Lawlor, a member of St. James Parish in Del Mar, San Diego County, and the organizer of the tour, said she is sending invitations to all parishes in the archdiocese and hopes to add more locations to the tour.
The relic, a portion of St. Mary Magdalene’s tibia, or shinbone, will be carried in a reliquary to California for a one-month tour. After two weeks in Northern California, the relic will make a stop at the federal penitentiary in Atwater on its way to Southern California.
The relic will be carried to Northern California by Father François LeHégaret, a French Dominican priest.
St. Mary Magdalene is recorded in the Bible as the first witness to the resurrection of Jesus.
According to tradition, some years after the crucifixion, Mary Magdalene was imprisoned. After her release, she and some other followers of Jesus were cast out to sea, landing miraculously on the coast of Gaul (France) near Marseille. After preaching and converting the region, she retired to a mountain cave, known as Sainte Baume and spent the last 30 years of her life in solitude.
A letter from Bishop Dominique Rey of Fréjus-Toulon reports that the relics were hidden at the time of the Saracen invasion and rediscovered in 1279, and have been venerated ever since. Shortly after the discovery, Pope Boniface VIII published the pontifical bull for the establishment of the Dominicans at Sainte Baum and St. Maximin.
They have guarded the relics ever since, Lawlor said.
The tour will be centered on Dominican parishes and will include photographs of the cave, Lawlor said.
“Mary Magdalene would like to go to the people who have been taking care of her all these years,” said Lawlor, who has written a book about the saint.
For the first stop Feb. 14 at St. Albert Priory – the Western Dominican Provincial House – in Oakland, Lawlor said she is looking forward to the relic being led into the church in a Dominican procession.
Lawlor visited the cave in France and said a miracle happened as a result.
“It was something that I didn’t even know existed until I went,” said Lawlor, the mother of seven children. “I had an amazing experience from prayers in there that were answered the day after. To me it was a huge miracle.”
Michelle Jurich of The Catholic Voice contributed to this story.