St. Mary Magdalene Church welcomes namesake relic
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain firstname.lastname@example.org March 9, 2013 6:32PM
Matthew Domke of New Lenox kisses a relic from St. Mary Magdalene as he holds his daughter Lucia, 6 months, at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Joliet, Illinois, Saturday, March 9, 2013. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 11, 2013 7:06AM
St. Mary Magdalene Church in Joliet celebrated its patroness saint this weekend with a rare relic from southern France.
A glass-encased tibia bone said to be from St. Mary Magdalene arrived Saturday afternoon and was to be featured in services Saturday and Sunday at the church, 127 S. Briggs St.
This is the first time the church has hosted the relic, which normally is ensconced at a shrine in southern France where Magdalene is said to have lived the last 30 years of her life, the Rev. Christopher Groh said.
It is a great honor for the church to be on the relic’s tour, something that has been planned for a year, he said. And St. Mary’s is the only church on the tour to have the relic for two days, he added.
Magdalene’s importance in the Catholic religion is significant, he said.
“She was one of the principal disciples of the Lord,” Groh said. “Her renown is she was the first witness after the resurrection. Jesus said to her, ‘Go tell Peter and my brothers to go forth.’ ”
After her death, what believers say were Magdalene’s remains were discovered in a cave and have been honored for centuries, Groh said.
They were hidden in the year 745 during wartime but rediscovered in a church basement in 1279 with a scroll that said, “Here lies Mary Magdalene.” They are now cared for by the Dominican order, which is protecting the relic on its U.S. tour.
The relic entered the Joliet church during a 4 p.m. Mass procession featuring the hymn “Early Christian Saints of God.”
The relic was to reside on a stand in front of the church’s altar throughout stations of the cross services at 6 p.m. Saturday and overnight.
The relic also will be present during normal Sunday services at 8 a.m., 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.; chapel prayer at 4 p.m.; and a special 5 p.m. Mass. A spiritual talk on Magdalene will be held at
2 p.m. Sunday.
“We’re getting a lot of phone calls with people asking questions and wanting to come,” said Groh, who has been at St. Mary’s for about 18 months but in the Joliet area for the past 25 years.
Having the relic during the church’s 60th anniversary year and Lent will help local Catholics reflect on their own lives and spiritual faith, he said.
“It’s just something I’m looking forward to because we often, as Catholics, look upon the saints as models for life.”