More on St. Mary Magdalene

Gregory DiPippo has a fascinating post at New Liturgical Movement on the recent elevation of the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene from obligatory memorial, in which he observes:

Fr Zuhlsdorf is certainly correct to predict that far too much will be made out of the fact that Pope Francis has raised the feast of a woman to a grade mostly occupied (as far as the general Calendar goes) by Apostles. Not only is this not a novelty, it is partially a return to the historical practice of the Tridentine Rite. In the Breviary of St Pius V, which predates his Missal by two years (1568), there were only three grades of feasts: Double, Semidouble and Simple. St Mary Magdalene’s feast was a Double, meaning that it had both Vespers, doubled antiphons at the major hours, nine readings at Matins, precedence over common Sundays, and had to be transferred if it were impeded. It is true that later on, as Double feasts were subdivided into four categories, she remained at the lowest of them (along with all the Doctors, inter alios). Nevertheless, the privileges of her liturgical rank did not even begin to be curtailed until late in the reign of Pope Leo XIII, at the end of the 19th century.

(Emphasis supplied and hyperlink omitted.) Of course, in the normative (for the Forma Extraordinaria) books of 1960/1962, St. Mary Magdalene’s feast is a feast of the 3rd class, though it is one of those rare 3rd class feasts with propers.

A couple of years ago, DiPippo wrote a very long, very interesting essay on St. Mary Magdalene’s feast more broadly considered, and it is well worth checking out when you have an idle hour.

That said, someone could profitably catalogue all the strangely traditional acts of the Holy Father. For example, in Mitis iudex Dominus Iesus, he restored, as we recall, traditional appellate jurisdiction in matrimonial cases to the metropolitan see (or the senior suffragan see in sentences rendered by the metropolitan). The restoration of St. Mary Magdalene’s feast to its post-1568 status is another such act. One wonders—we wonder, at any rate—whether there is any rhyme or reason or even a pattern to such acts.