Mary Magdalene represents a devotion to Christ which is deeply inspiring and represents the Easter season to me. She has been depicted in art throughout the centuries. In 1640, she was painted by Georges de la Tour, a Catholic Baroque painter, his piece part of a series depicting her. The most famous painting of the series is entitled “Magdalene with the Smoking Flame.” Today, the painting is housed at the Louvre. In 1989, Disney’s The Little Mermaid included the painting in Ariel’s grotto.
The glimpse of the painting in the film is likely intended to represent a devotion to becoming human (which Ariel’s grotto is a religious temple of sorts to becoming human), a congruent allegory to Mary Magdalene’s deep devotion to Christ. The devotion Ariel has to the spiritual transformation of becoming human is similar to the transfiguration of Christ.
According to the Musée du Louvre, “During the 17th century, great devotion was shown to Mary Magdalene in all Catholic countries. She was the perfect lover of Christ, her beauty was made more appealing because of her repentance, which had a special attraction for a period so passionately interested in problems of mysticism, quietism and asceticism. The theme of the repentance of sinners and trials sent by God is illustrated in subjects such as the Repentance of St. Peter, Mary Magdalene, and Job. The number of written works give evidence to the cult of Magdalene and this cult became widespread since Provence contained two great sanctuaries dedicated to her: the grotto of La Sainte-Baume, and the Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.”
Mary Magdalene represents the spiritual devotion that I seek this Easter.