Illuminated Manuscript by Cristóbal Torres Iglesias, OP
Dominican House of Studies
Priory of the Immaculate Conception
FROM THE ARTIST:
The illuminated text is the "O Lumen," a traditional Dominican chant to St. Dominic that we all sing together at Compline (Night Prayer). Inside the illuminated "O" is Dominic, who silently ponders the Good News of the Resurrection that Mary Magdalene is preaching to him while both stand in front of the empty tomb. I wanted to visually evoke a fourteenth-century Western European illumination and hagiography while incorporating subtle elements that a fourteenth-century illuminator might not have thought of or had access to, therefore Mary's depiction here draws significantly from both Western and Eastern Christian traditions about her, as well as her traditional connection to the Dominican Order.
Mary Magdalene is one of the patron saints of the Order of Preachers and has been recognized as such almost since the order's inception in the 13th century, owing in part to her role as the first witness and preacher of the resurrected Christ. The Magdalene's patronage of our Order and her role as the first preacher are reflected in her anachronistic donning of the Dominican habit. Her flowing red hair, a feature likely inconsistent with the actual appearance of the Palestinian Jewish disciple of the gospels, is a "tip of the hat" to classical depictions of her in the history of Western Christian art. She holds a jar of ointment, a symbol drawn from the gospels and present in both Eastern and Western images of her. The red egg Mary holds refers to a hagiographical legend from the Christian East, according to which Mary proclaimed the Resurrection to the Emperor Tiberius while dining with him in Rome. The emperor mockingly told Mary that it was more likely that the egg on her plate should turn red than that her Lord rose from the dead. Eastern icons of Mary Magdalene often depict her holding up the miraculously reddened egg in response to Tiberius' mockery.
Mary's place as the first to preach the Good News earned her the ancient titles of "Apostle to the Apostles" and "Equal to the Apostles," titles by which she is still revered today in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. I therefore thought it fitting to depict her sharing the Gospel with our spiritual father and founder Dominic, who in turn charges his family of preachers to continue the task of sharing it with others.