Racha Kirokasian (Harvard University): The Beautiful Yet Corrupt Body of Mary Magdalene in Medieval Conversion Legend

Mary Magdalene has always inspired legends: from the Middle Ages to today's pop culture, the story of a former prostitute turning pious has fascinated theologians, lay people, and scholars alike. Her cult grew rapidly in the thirteenth century, leading to problems in medieval discourses on chastity, virginity, and incorruption. What was the status of Mary Magdalene's once sexualized body after her conversion? How come she figured on the highest altar ranks next to Virgin Saints? And who was she anyway? My talk will address some of these questions by discussing a set of conversion legends which seem to undermine the official stance that the medieval Church held on Mary Magdalene.