Sovereign Magistral

Saint Mary Magdalene and the Knights Templar:

The Tradition of Mary Magdalene as a Templar Patron Saint



Mary Magdalene as a Gnostic Apostle


S (100) Knights Templar Illuminated Letters www.knightstemplarorder.orgSaint Mary Magdalene, the New Testament Disciple and supporter of Jesus, is a Saint of the Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran Churches, honoured as a Heroine of the Faith by Protestant Churches. In addition to being a canonized Saint, in Southern France and throughout much of Europe Mary Magdalene was venerated as a Gnostic Apostle by the tradition known as the “Cult of Mary Magdalene”, which arose in Provence France during the 11th century.


'Mary Magdalene', Andrea Solario and Bernardino Luini (ca. 1524 AD), at The Walters Art Museum

‘Mary Magdalene’, Andrea Solario and Bernardino Luini (ca. 1524 AD), at The Walters Art Museum

This was based upon the widespread belief among Catholic scholars that Mary and her companions fled persecution in Jerusalem, crossed the Mediterranean in a boat, and landed near Arles in the South of France (since named “Saintes Maries de la Mer”). She then retired to the Holy Cave (“Sainte-Baume”) on a hill in the Marseille region, and converted all of Provence to Christianity. This tradition holds that throughout 30 years, as a Gnostic Apostle of Jesus, she taught her own Disciples in ancient Christianity from the Holy Cave, and was in frequent communication with Angels. [1] [2] [3] [4]


These legends of Mary Magdalene were widely accepted throughout the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages [5] and into the present day.


Catholic doctrine holds that at the time of her death, Mary Magdalene was carried by Angels to Aix en Provence and into the Oratory of Saint Maximinus at Villa Lata, where she received last rites. In 771 AD her relics were moved by Gerard the Duke of Burgundy to the newly founded Abbey de la Madaleine at Vézelay. Her relics were first venerated at Vézelay in Burgundy beginning in ca. 1050 AD. [6]


Later in 1279 AD, an excavation for King Charles II of Naples discovered an intact shrine of Mary Magdalene at Saint Maximin la Sainte Baume in Provence. That site featured an inscription explaining why her relics had been hidden there, indicating that it was either the hidden true burial site, or an alternate site of partial relics. [7] [8]


Southern France, especially the Mary Magdalene site of Aix en Provence, was always a major stronghold of the Knights Templar, since the inception of the Order in 1118 AD:


A public square in Aix en Provence preserves a 19th century statute of Rene d’Anjou (1409-1480 AD), Duke of the Templar dynastic House of Anjou, and titular King of Jerusalem descendant from the founding Templar King Fulk d’Anjou. Rene was the son of Princess Yolande of Aragon (1384-1442 AD), who was the primary proponent and patron of Saint Joan of Arc, who was a hereditary Templar Countess of Anjou [9].


Yolande was the daughter of King John I of Aragon Spain, where many of the Knights Templar had survived the French persecution from 1307 AD. As a result, many later Templar descendants thrived as an underground network in Southern France, under the dynastic support of the Templar House of Anjou.


Therefore, the 11th century “Cult of Mary Magdalene” had a special connection – and a powerful appeal – to the 12th century Knights Templar, and was always a major component of authentic Templar heritage even into the modern era. While not all Templars necessarily considered Mary Magdalene to be a Gnostic Apostle, many historically did. As Catholics, in any case, the Knights Templar strongly favoured her as their special Saint.


Throughout the Middle Ages, at every possible opportunity the Templars used seemingly normal references to “Mary”, appearing to mean “Mother Mary”, to instead privately emphasize the central importance of Mary Magdalene in their hearts and in their prayers, as a pillar of Templar culture:


The Temple Rule of 1129 AD features a key reference emphasizing “Our Lady of God” in equal balance with Jesus, using the unique Old French word “Damedieu”, which specifically represents the feminine aspect of God (Rule 2).


A related reference in the original Latin identifies “Our Lady” as the “Saint” Mary (and not the “Virgin” or “Mother”), highlighting Saint Mary Magdalene as a Gnostic Apostle of Jesus (Rule 16). It specifically declares that the Templar Priests of the Order serve by “the authority of Our Lady of God” (Rule 64), thereby dedicating the Order to Mary Magdalene. [10]


Accordingly, preserving the tradition of Mary Magdalene remains one of the fundamental historical missions which is carried by the modern Templar Order.


Saint Mary Magdalene as a Templar Patron Saint


T (100) Knights Templar Illuminated Letters www.knightstemplarorder.orgThe Biblical Mary Magdalene was a woman of independent means, who helped support the first Apostles of Jesus. The New Testament recounts that “Mary Magdalene… and many others… provided for them out of their resources.” (Luke 8:2-3.) This is supported by the reference that “Mary Magdalene… followed him [Jesus], and ministered unto him” (Mark 15:40-41). [11] Based upon these scriptures, the iconic Templar symbol of her status as a sponsoring patron Saint of the Apostles is her trademark money pouch.


'Penitent Mary Magdalene' (ca. 1635 AD) by Francesco Gessi at Peyton Wright Gallery

‘Penitent Mary Magdalene’ (ca. 1635 AD) by Francesco Gessi at Peyton Wright Gallery

The statue of Saint Joan of Arc inside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, placed there by surviving 15th century Templars, features a key symbol linking her to Saint Mary Magdalene. In this statue, Joan has a distinctive pouch hanging from her belt, mirroring the iconographic “money pouch” traditionally depicted on the belt of Mary Magdalene [12].


Confirming this symbolism is another statue outside that same Cathedral, featuring Mary Magdalene with an Apostolic halo wearing her iconic “money pouch”. [13] The Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg also features a 19th century painting “The Life of Joan of Arc”, which depicts Saint Joan wearing the “money pouch” on a red robe which symbolizes that of Mary Magdalene. [14]


In the New Testament, Mary Magdalene was the first to be told by an Angel that Jesus had risen, and was specially appointed by the Angel to be the first to tell the other Apostles: “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary [came] to see the sepulchre” of Jesus’ tomb. “The angel of the Lord descended from heaven… and said unto the women… go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead… lo, I have told you. And they departed quickly… to bring his disciples word.” (Matthew 28:1-8, Mark 16:1-8) [15]


Jesus himself appeared to Mary first, before any other Apostles: “Now when Jesus was risen… he appeared first to Mary Magdalene”. (Mark 16:9) Then “Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord”. (John 20:14-18) [16]


The prominence of leadership of Mary Magdalene in the 1st century Church was confirmed by the authoritative Vatican theologian Saint Augustine (ca. 400 AD), recognizing her as the “Apostle to the Apostles” [17].


The name “Magdalene” did not mean merely “from Magdala”, but actually meant “The Tower”, as Mary’s nickname and title of prominence and importance among the Apostles. [18]


For these reasons, Mary Magdalene is widely considered to hold special status as the primary Disciple of Jesus, who the Essenes, Cathars and later Templars regarded as a “Gnostic Apostle”, as well as a Patron Saint [19].


'Maria Magdalena', altar piece by Carlo Crivelli (ca.1485 AD) in Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

‘Maria Magdalena’, altar piece by Carlo Crivelli (ca.1485 AD) in Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

It was only much later in the 7th century that Pope Gregory (590-604 AD) mistakenly associated Mary Magdalene with a “sinner” who washed Jesus’ feet (Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-8), who was also named “Mary”. However, the Orthodox Church never made that misidentification, and maintains that Magdalene is separate, and was never any type of “sinner”, but only venerated as a Saint. [20]


The New Testament contains two isolated references to “Mary Magdalene, out of whom he [Jesus] had cast seven devils.” (Mark 16:9, Luke 8:2) [21] This passing mention, in two accounts of the same event, does not appear in the other two related Gospels.


That cryptic reference, which appears out of context even in the original text, has been assumed to imply that “seven demons were cast out” of her, interpreted as a possible exorcism. However, the results of archaeology provide compelling evidence that this is actually a metaphorical short description of the sacred consecration ceremony for a High Priest(ess), in the tradition of the Nazarene Essenes:


The “Wisdom Texts” of the Essene scrolls describe in great detail “the search for Wisdom as a female figure”, establishing doctrines of the feminine aspects of God [22]. As a result, in the Essene Priesthood women were given initiatory training [23], and the 1st century historian Flavius Josephus documented that women were given formal initiation as Priestesses, equal to the men [24].


University professors confirm that Jesus was not “of Nazareth”, but was actually called “the Nazarene”, revealing that he was a High Priest of the Nazarene Essenes, the original Egyptian Essenes. (The town “Nazereth” did not have that name at the time of Jesus, such that he was not named after the place, but rather the town was later named after Jesus the Nazarene Essene.) [25]


The ancient Priesthood of the Essenes, which Jesus the Nazarene Essene had studied in Egypt, and of which he was a High Priest, featured practices of spiritual purification using energy centers located at seven points along the spinal column [26]. These energy points are popularly known in other traditions as the “seven chakras”.


In all spiritual traditions, the purpose of all forms of energy work with the chakras is always to “clear” or “cleanse” them, by “removing” clouds or blocks of “negative energy”, often referred to in early Christianity as “demons”. Naturally, the only way to become a High Priest(ess) was necessarily to cleanse one’s seven chakras, casting out all negative energies, removing all blocks, to ensure that the Holy Spirit would flow strongly through the Priest(ess).


Evidence that the Apostles had knowledge from the Essenes of how to “cleanse” the “seven chakras”, is found in a prayer which is featured in the Gnostic Acts of Thomas: “Come, thou holy name of Christ… Come, compassionate Mother. Come, she that revealeth the hidden mysteries. Come, Mother of the seven houses, that thy rest may be in the seventh house. … Come, Holy Spirit, and cleanse their reins and their heart, and give them the added seal”. [27]


This invocation is direct evidence from the historical record of an Apostolic practice, specifically to “cleanse” the “seven houses” to give an “added seal” of connection to the Holy Spirit. This proves the reality of a tradition of consecration of a High Priest(ess) by “casting out seven demons” from their chakras, and that such practice has nothing to do with demonic possession nor exorcism, but rather is purification for consecration of a Bishop.


Therefore, the infamously misinterpreted New Testament reference to Mary Magdalene, as the one from whom “Jesus had cast out seven demons”, in fact clearly evidences that Jesus himself had consecrated Mary as a High Priestess in the ancient tradition of the Essenes, thereby making her the first female Apostolic Bishop of Christianity.


The prayer of Saint Thomas, that the “Mother” of Wisdom may “rest… in the seventh house”, is a clear reference to the highest seventh chakra, located at the Pineal body in the center of the brain.


Jesus the Nazarene taught the Apostles about the importance of activating the Pineal body, which is popularly known in all esoteric traditions as the “Third Eye” or “Single Eye”, and is the natural biological channel for Holy Spirit energies: “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” (Matthew 6:22) [28]


This Gnostic teaching of the Essenes, known and used by Jesus and the Apostles, is also described in Old Testament canonical scripture: “Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn [carved] out her seven pillars” (Proverbs 9:1) [29] This establishes that the system of seven energy centers of the human body is associated with the divine feminine aspect of God.


In the Old Testament the spirit of Wisdom, always referred to in scripture as “she”, is described in great detail as being the feminine face of God, the female aspect which is inherent within God. “Wisdom” speaks, saying: “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning… while as yet he had not made the earth… When he prepared the heavens, I was there… I was by him, as one brought up with him”. (Proverbs 8:22-31) [30]


The Gnostic scripture Pistis Sophia, features Mary Magdalene teaching the principles of “cosmic” spiritual ascent of the soul, through prayerful work with “seven spheres” of energy. [31]


This is supported by the Gnostic scripture Dialogue of the Savior, in which Mary Magdalene teaches: “There is but one saying I will speak to the Lord concerning the mystery of Truth: In this we have taken our stand, and to the cosmic we are transparent.” [32]


Therefore, the “cosmic” to which we are “transparent” is the “seven spheres” of energy, as the “seven houses”, of the Biblical “seven pillars” of Wisdom, which are the seven chakras.


In 12th century Templarism, the doctrine of the number seven being associated with cleansing purification is found in the Temple Rule of 1129 AD: Knights were instructed to say prayers “for the daytime hours seven” paternosters (Rule 10); Whenever a Templar Brother or Sister dies, the other Templars are instructed “throughout seven days, to say one hundred paternosters” (Rule 62), and that a “pauper shall [be given] seven days of food for his soul” (Rule 65). [33]


The Templar Order was originally founded specifically as a Holy mission to recover ancient scriptures from the historical Temple of Solomon [34] [35], which contained a library of sacred scrolls [36], placed there by the 1st century Essenes [37], who had direct access to that Temple [38]. The Order was thus based upon recovering the Gnostic scriptures of the Essenes [39]. Those scriptures gave rise to the strong Templar belief that Mary Magdalene was a “Gnostic Apostle” of Jesus.


The Gnostic Gospel of Mary, shows Mary Magdalene as the senior Apostle closest to Jesus: Peter asked Mary, “Sister we know the Lord loved you more than the rest of the women. Tell us the words of the Savior which you remember, which you know, but we do not nor have heard them.” Mary answered, “What is hidden from you I will proclaim to you.” The Apostle Levi then said to Peter, “if the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her? Surely the Savior knows her very well. That is why He loved her more than us.” [40]


The Gnostic Gospel of Philip identifies Mary Magdalene as the closest “companion” to Jesus, even beyond the role of an Apostle: “There were three who always walked with the Lord, Mary his mother and her sister and the Magdalene, the one who was called his companion.” [41]


The Gospel of Philip says that the Virgin Mother Mary “is the mother of the Angels, and the companion of… Mary Magdalene. [Jesus loved] her more than [all] the disciples, [and used to] kiss her [often] on her [mouth].” (The missing words from holes in the parchment were reliably indicated by the grammar and context of surrounding words.) [42]


Such “kissing” was a traditional greeting among Priests of the ancient Priesthood of the Essenes. Accordingly, “kissing often” indicates frequent visits to a Master by his Disciple. The phrase “on the mouth” reflects an ancient esoteric principle of conveying sacred Wisdom and Holy Spirit energy, metaphorically symbolized as spiritual “breath” from the “mouth”, which was conceptually related to the “word” of God.


In Christianity, this spiritual concept of “kissing on the mouth” was first found in one of the 2nd century Cistercian Chants, which were also sung by the original 12th century Knights Templar. One of those 12 liturgical chants favored by the Knights Templar, Filie Jerusalem, features the lyrics “May he [Jesus] kiss me by kisses of his mouth” [43]. This was essentially a coded prayer for Jesus to convey divine sacred wisdom to the Knights as initiates of the Essene Priesthood.


As a result of all of the above historical facts, Mary Magdalene is authentically the primary venerated Patron Saint of the Templar Order, and the focus of Apostolic heritage of the Ancient Catholic Church preserved by the Order of the Temple of Solomon. In many ways, the Templar Order is dedicated to preserving and continuing the tradition of Mary Magdalene, as the saintly and inspirational “heart” of the original Knights Templar.



Suggested Related Topics


Learn about Saint Joan of Arc as a dynastic Templar.

Learn about Women in Membership in Templar Chivalry.



Academic Source References


[1] Victor Saxer, La Culte de St Marie Magdalene en Occident (1959).

[2] Academic Essays, La Magdaleine, VIIIe-XIIIe Siècle, Ecole Française de Rome (1992).

[3] Katherine Ludwig Jansen, The Making of the Magalen: Preaching and Popular Devotion in the Later Middle Ages, Princeton University Press (2000).

[4] Thomas F. Head, Medieval Hagiography: An Anthology, Taylor & Francis Group (2001), pp.659 et seq.

[5] Christopher Witcombe, The Chapel of the Courtesan and the Quarrel of the Magdalens, The Art Bulletin, Volume 84, Number 2 (June 2002), p.279.

[6] Barbara Johnston, Sacred Kingship and Royal Patronage in the La Vie de la Magdalene: Pilgrimage, Politics, Passion Plays, and the Life of Louise of Savoy, pp.111-115.

[7] Rebecca Lea McCarthy, Origins of the Magdalene Laundries: An Analytical History, McFarland (2010), p.50.

[8] Susan Haskins, Mary Magdalen: Truth and Myth, Random House (2011), pp.129-132.

[9] Heinz Friederichs, Genealogisches Jahrbuch, academic journal of genealogy, Germany (ca.1971), pp.73-81.

[10] Henri de Curzon, La Règle du Temple, La Société de L’Histoire de France, Paris (1886), in Librairie Renouard, Rules 2, 16, 64.

[11] New Testament, Authorized King James Version (AKJV), Cambridge University Press (1990), Luke 8:2-3, Mark 15:40-41.

[12] Roman Catholic Church, Notre Dame Cathedral (ca. 1345 AD), Paris, inside South wall, statue of Saint Joan of Arc.

[13] Roman Catholic Church, Notre Dame Cathedral (ca. 1345 AD), Paris, outside West wall, to the right of the Portal of the Virgin, between the Main Entrance and the Portal of the Last Judgment, statue of Saint Mary Magdalene.

[14] Stilke Hermann Anton, Painting: “The Life of Joan of Arc” (1843 AD), Triptych: left panel, Hermitage State Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

[15] New Testament, Authorized King James Version (AKJV), Cambridge University Press (1990), Matthew 28:1-8, Mark 16:1-8.

[16] New Testament, Authorized King James Version (AKJV), Cambridge University Press (1990), Mark 16:9, John 20:14-18.

[17] Ken Doyle, Apostle to the Apostles: The Story of Mary Magdalene, Catholic Times, 11 September 2011.

[18] Lori Nelson, Secrets of Mary Magdalene, documentary film, Discovery Channel (2006), at 4:30 min.

[19] Dr. Jonathan L. Reed, Science of the Bible: The Real Mary Magdalene, documentary film, National Geographic (2005), at 10:55 min.

[20] Marina Warner, Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and the Cult of the Virgin Mary, 1st Ed., Alfred A. Knopf (1976), 2nd Ed., Vintage Books (1983), p.228.

[21] New Testament, Authorized King James Version (AKJV), Cambridge University Press (1990), Mark 16:9, Luke 8:2.

[22] Schiffman & VanderKam, Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Oxford University Press (2000), Vol.2, p.977, “Wisdom Texts”, citing Qumran Scroll 11Q5 xxi.11-17; xxii.1.

[23] Schiffman & VanderKam, Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Oxford University Press (2000), Vol.2, p.983, “Women: Membership, Leadership and Status”, citing Qumran Scroll 1Q28a i.4.

[24] Schiffman & VanderKam, Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Oxford University Press (2000), Vol.2, p.983, “Women: Membership, Leadership and Status”, citing Flavius Josephus, The Jewish War, 2.161.

[25] Professor Ted Nottingham, The Mystery of the Essenes, Video of Lecture at Northwood Christian Church, Indianapolis Indiana (2010), at 24:04 and 26:00 min.

[26] H. Spencer Lewis, The Mystical Life of Jesus, Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis, San Jose (1982), pp.191-192.

[27] Montague Rhodes James, The Apocryphal New Testament, Oxford University Press (1707), Clarendon Press, Oxford (1924), Acts of Thomas, 27.

[28] New Testament, Authorized King James Version (AKJV), Cambridge University Press (1990), Matthew 6:22.

[29] Old Testament, Authorized King James Version (AKJV), Cambridge University Press (1990), Proverbs 9:1.

[30] New Testament, Authorized King James Version (AKJV), Cambridge University Press (1990), Proverbs 8:22-31.

[31] Montague Rhodes James, The Apocryphal New Testament, Oxford University Press (1707), Clarendon Press, Oxford (1924), Pistis Sophia, 36, pp.46-47.

[32] James M. Robinson, Nag Hammadi Library, 2nd Revised Edition, E.J. Brill, Leiden (1988), Dialogue of the Savior, p.253.

[33] Henri de Curzon, La Règle du Temple, La Société de L’Histoire de France, Paris (1886), in Librairie Renouard, Rules 10, 62, 65.

[34] Michael Lamy, Les Templiers: Ces Grand Seigneurs aux Blancs Manteaux, Auberon (1994), Bordeaux (1997), p.28.

[35] Alan Butler & Stephen Dafoe, The Warriors and Bankers, Lewis Masonic, Surrey, England (2006), p.20.

[36] Karl Heinrich Rengstorf, Hirbet Qumran and the Problem of the Library of the Dead Sea Caves, German edition (1960), Translated by J.R. Wilkie, Leiden Press, Brill (1963).

[37] Minna and Kenneth Lonnqvist, Archaeology of the Hidden Qumran: The New Paradigm, Helsinki University Press, Helsinki (2002).

[38] Eric Meyers, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East, Oxford University Press, Oxford (1997), Vol.2, pp.268-269.

[39] Piers Paul Read, The Templars: The Dramatic History of the Knights Templar, the Most Powerful Military Order of the Crusades, 1st Edition, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London (1999), Phoenix Press, London (2001), Orion Publishing Group, London (2012), p.304, quoting conclusions of historians from “the German Freemasons”.

[40] James M. Robinson, Nag Hammadi Library, 2nd Revised Edition, E.J. Brill, Leiden (1988), Chapter 10, Gospel of Mary, pp.526-527.

[41] James M. Robinson, Nag Hammadi Library, 2nd Revised Edition, E.J. Brill, Leiden (1988), Gospel of Philip, p.145, 59.9.

[42] James M. Robinson, Nag Hammadi Library, 2nd Revised Edition, E.J. Brill, Leiden (1988), Gospel of Philip, p.148, 63.34-65.12.

[43] Marcel Peres, Cistercian Chant, annotated musical compilation, recorded by Ensemble Organum (1992).


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