Monday, 22 August 2011

Mary Magdalene

Tricker clearly has a great affection for Mary Magdalene. He portrays her more than any other of the Gospel characters, seeming to find in her human nature at it is meant to be, with an open capacity for God. It is she alone who foresees the Passion, and pours the precious ointment on the head of Jesus.

He explains that she is ‘anointing Him for His burial’, but she is also anointing Him as King and Priest: the Christos. It is she who overcomes her passionate grief after the crucifixion and goes to the tomb to find His body. It is she – and only she – who encounters the Risen Jesus. It is she, then, who has the privilege of being the first ‘apostle’. Apostle means ‘messenger’ and she is the messenger who runs headlong from the garden to announce the Resurrection to the Apostles lost in their grief. She has been called ‘the apostle to the Apostles’. Needless to say, Peter and the disciples did not believe her, but they were to find that Jesus had, indeed, risen and appeared to His beloved Mary Magdalene.

Tricker searches for ways to make visible the beauty and significance of this young woman. Here he has carved her head, from a stone of radiant whiteness. Her hair, long, thick and waving, cascades beside her face. There is probably a reference here to the legend, (one of several legends about Mary Magdalene, all different), that she went to live alone in the desert, leaving behind her all her possessions. As her clothes disintegrated over time, she retained her modesty because she was completely covered by her hair.

Tricker carves a long and slender face, shaped like a holy mandorla. It rises to a peak, and the radiance of the stone, combined with the strangeness of the form, suggest a lighted candle. She burns with the pure light of her closeness to Christ. It is the face of one lost in contemplation, serene in the consciousness in the every abiding presence of her Lord. Materially, she has nothing: spiritually, she has everything. It is a small sculpture, barely two feet high, but it seems majestic.

Picture © Nigel Noyes

Text and picture are extracts from the book The Christ Journey published by ST PAULS, which can be purchased here.