Tag Archives: Mary Magdalene

Some Legends of the Easter (Paschal) Eggs.


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj

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Hand Painted Easte Eggs (Source: menorca-live.com)
Hand Painted Easte Eggs (Source: menorca-live.com)

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On Easter Sunday, at the end of the Paschal Liturgy, the faithful exchange Paschal greetings. In some churches the priests and the faithful present each other with Easter (Paschal) eggs.

Wooden eggs with icons hang as decorations from lamps and chandeliers in the churches, and from the vigil lights in the homes. The Coptic Christians of the Orthodox church in Egypt often hang ostrich eggshells in the front of their churches. The eggshells evoke the image of the mother ostrich’s single-minded and calm concentration on the eggs in her nest. It reminds the faithful how they should pray and conduct their spiritual life.

There are many legends about the Easter (or Paschal) Eggs.

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Mater Dolorosa with open hands. Artist: Titian 1555. Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain.
Mater Dolorosa with open hands. Artist: Titian 1555. Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain.

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One apocryphal legend concerns Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. It tells of the time when she gave eggs to the soldiers at the cross. She entreated them to be less cruel towards her son and wept. As her tears fell upon the eggs, they spotted them with dots of brilliant color.

Through the ages, the egg symbolizing new life and fertility appeared during many spring festivals. To the Egyptians, Persians, Romans, Gauls, and the Chinese, the egg symbolized the rebirth of the earth at springtime.

Saint Augustine, an early Christian theologian and philosopher whose writings influenced the development of western Christianity described the Resurrection of Christ from the dead as “a chick bursting from an egg.” This analogy represents the rebirth of humans through Christ. Hence, the Christians identify the egg with the tomb from which Christ rose and used eggs during Easter celebrations.

Many cite the following apocryphal story as the tradition of the first Easter Egg associated with Mary Magdalene.

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Icon of Saint Mary Magdalene holding a red egg.
Icon of Saint Mary Magdalene holding a red egg.

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Mary of Magdala is a major saint in the East, where she is never associated with women of ill repute and known as being equal to the apostles. She traveled with Jesus as one of his followers and was present at two most important moments in the life of Jesus: the crucifixion and the resurrection.

After the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ, Mary Magdalene gained an audience with the Roman emperor Tiberius Julius Caesar. She denounced Pontius Pilate, the fifth prefect of the Roman province of Judaea from 26-36 AD for his mishandling of the trial of Jesus.

She then told the emperor about the resurrection of Jesus. The unconvinced emperor pointed at an egg on the dining table and riposted that there was as much chance of a human being returning to life as there was for the egg to turn red. As soon as the emperor said this the egg miraculously turned red!

Hence, from antiquity, Mary Magdalene has been associated with red color. Most icons of Mary Magdalene show her holding a red egg.

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Red Easter Eggs (Source: psalterstudies.wordpress.com) (Custom)
Red Easter Eggs (Source: psalterstudies.wordpress.com) (Custom)

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From these tales originated the basis for dyeing Easter eggs. While people use all the colors of the rainbow to dye eggs, red is by far the most usual color used, especially in countries of the Eastern Orthodox faith. Sometimes the priests bless the red eggs at Orthodox masses on Easter Sunday.

Chocolate Easter Egg

With changing times, chocolate eggs or plastic eggs filled with confectionery such as jellybeans have replaced the real dyed and painted eggs as gifts.

Fabergé eggs

While the commoners were happy to receive dyed and hand painted real eggs as gifts for Easter, the Russian Tsar Alexander III and his eldest son Tsar Nicholas II presented their wives and mothers jeweled eggs as Easter gifts. The two Tsars commissioned Peter Carl Fabergé and his company between 1885 and 1917 to create a series of 54 jeweled eggs. These eggs were often called the ‘Imperial’ Fabergé eggs.

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Russian Imperial Easter Fabergé egg, the Jeweled Hen Egg from the collection of Fabergé Museum in St. Petersburg.
Russian Imperial Easter Fabergé egg, the Jeweled Hen Egg from the collection of Fabergé Museum in St. Petersburg.

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Peter Carl Fabergé delivered the first Fabergé creation known as the “Jeweled Hen Egg” to Tsar Alexander III in 1885. It featured a seemingly ordinary egg, but inside was a yolk of gold that contained a golden hen with ruby eyes, seated on a nest of gold. Inside the hen was a miniature diamond replica of the royal crown and a ruby egg pendant that could be worn as a necklace. Tsarina Marie Feodorovna was overjoyed with the egg so much that Alexander III ordered a new egg from Fabergé for his wife every Easter thereafter.

While the Hen Egg is among those that have survived, the gifts inside have been lost to time. The Jeweled Hen Egg is currently located in Russia as part of the Vekselberg Collection and is housed in the Fabergé Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

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A few Fabergé Eggs (Source: thesipadvisor.com)
A few Fabergé Eggs (Source: thesipadvisor.com)

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Other famous eggs include the Danish Palaces, Memory of Azov, Diamond Trellis, Caucasus, Renaissance, Rosebud, Twelve Monograms, Imperial Coronation Egg, Lilies-of-the-Valley, etc.

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“The Lord has truly been raised …”


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj
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Then the angel said to the women in reply, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified

He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ Behold, I have told you.”

– Matthew 28:5-7

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Christ of the Millenium by Frederick Hart

Luke the Evangelist narrates the resurrection of Jesus in five parts and all the resurrection appearances take place in and around Jerusalem; moreover, they are all recounted as having taken place on Easter Sunday.

Part 1 – The women at the empty tomb (Luke 23:54–24:12)

Women At The Tomb by William Bouguereau

It was the day of preparation, and the sabbath was about to begin.

The women who had come from Galilee with him followed behind, and when they had seen the tomb and the way in which his body was laid in it, they returned and prepared spices and perfumed oils.

Then they rested on the sabbath according to the commandment.

But at daybreak on the first day of the week they took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them.

They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground.

They said to them, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day.”

And they remembered his words.

Then they returned from the tomb and announced all these things to the eleven and to all the others.

The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles, but their story seemed like nonsense and they did not believe them.

But Peter got up and ran to the tomb, bent down, and saw the burial cloths alone; then he went home amazed at what had happened.

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Part 2 – The appearance to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus (Luke 24:13–35)

Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast.

One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?”

And he replied to them, “What sort of things?”

They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him.

But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place.

Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive.

Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.”

And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”

Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures.

As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther.

But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”

So he went in to stay with them.

And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them.

With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight.

Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?”

So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”

Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

In the above episode Luke focuses on the interpretation of scripture by the risen Jesus and the recognition of him by his disciples in the breaking of the bread.

  • Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures. (Luke 24:27)
  • And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. (Luke 24:30-31)

Luke mentions Emmaus as situated seven miles from Jerusalem.

  • Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, (Luke 24:13)

Seven miles: literally, “sixty stades.” A stade was 607 feet. Some manuscripts read “160 stades” or more than eighteen miles.

The exact location of Emmaus is disputed by scholars.

In all the resurrection stories a consistent feature is that the risen Jesus appeared differently even to his close associates and was initially unrecognizable.

  • When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. (John 20:14)
  • but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. (Luke 24:16)
  • But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. (Luke 24:37)
  • After this he appeared in another form to two of them walking along on their way to the country. (Mark 16:12)
  • When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. (John 21:4)

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Part 3 –  The appearance to the disciples in Jerusalem (Luke 24:36–43)

While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost.

Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.”

And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.

While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”

They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them.

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Part 4 –  Jesus’ final instructions (Luke 24:44–49)

He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”

Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And [behold] I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

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Part 5 – The Ascension (Luke 24:50–53)

Then he led them [out] as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them.

As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven.

They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God.

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Christ is risen from the dead – المسيح قام من بين الأموات

This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it

Jesus is risen from the dead
Defeating death by death
And giving life to those in the grave

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