Jean Gobi the elder was a prior at Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume from 1304 to 1328. During his time as a prior, he recorded 84 miracles reported by pilgrims that traveled to Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume to visit the relics of Mary Magdalene.
He organized the purported miracles in categories: some were some related to prisoners, to eyesight, to loss of hearing miraculously being recovered, and more to amount to 12 categories in total. The historical examination of the Latin manuscript reveals that it was written and organized between 1313 and 1328.
Regardless of where one may stand in matters of faith, the affluence of Mary Magdalene in Provence can hardly be ignored. It is the third tomb of Christendom, and it attracts nearly 300, 000 visitors each year.
I am certainly not asking you to take these stories at face value – miracles belong to the realm of personal faith. I present these miracles rather as witnesses of the spirituality of the early pilgrims that came to pay homage to Mary the Magdalene and to seek relief from their misfortunes. The alleged miracles below certainly cannot be proven but they cannot be disproved either. Miracles belong to the domain of the supernatural, of a realm that remains unknown to us although it seems to make contact with mortals on some rare occasions.
Perhaps these pilgrims were under the effect of the placebo effect. And even then, perhaps what really matters is that their healing gave birth to a sacred love, a devotion that became greater than they, a reason to dream of realms beyond their own mortal reality.
Here are two excerpts of the reported miracles:
“Some Portuguese sailors were navigating when a very violent sea storm erupted. The storm shook them so hard that as a result of the fatigue and sickness they endured because of that storm, almost all of them lost their eye vision – the judgement of God was confusing and impossible for them to understand!
One of them, named Jean, concerned about his health, called several experienced doctors to ask for a consultation. In conformity with their healing art, they applied all sorts of bandages and also other remedies that were not very much use in his recovery. Instead, the man noticed soon thereafter that his body was getting used up by all the treatments they had used on him. He also came to notice that he had almost used up his funds to pay the doctors, so he stopped looking for help from the doctors, and instead turned to Saints for help.
For that reason, he decided to go on a pilgrimage through various cities.
He visited various regions of the world asking for the intercessions of saints, and when he came across gents that were filled with compassion towards him from what he could tell, told him that God was accomplishing many miracles through Magdalene at Saint Maximin, where the body of that saint laid. Upon hearing such information, the man followed his heart and decided to visit the sanctuary of Saint Magdalene at Saint Maximin. And soon, he realized that it was a good decision. Even though the journey there by foot would take about forty days to get there, and perhaps longer, he started his journey without delay and with immense devotion.
Finally arriving in Saint Maximin as soon as he could, with lots of hardships and tribulations that were not meager in nature, he entered the church of Magdalene, where he implored for the intercession of the Saint, crying buckets of tears.
At the end of the day, he still hadn’t received what the favor he desired; he then asked, through special grace, to be given the permission to spend the night inside the church. He was sincerely hoping that Magdalene would obtain of God the goodness he was asking for.
He stayed in that church that very night and spent it in prayers, as much as he could, until the hour of “lauds”, where the darkness of the world was moving to give way to daylight. The divine virtue totally chased away, through the merits of Magdalene, the darkness that had also covered his eyes, and his sight was perfectly restored, as if his vision had always been perfect, as if his eyes never experienced any blindness at all.”
“During the era when the illustrious prince, the Lord Charles II, son of the very notorious King of Sicily, and King of the same kingdom after him, wanted to reveal the body and relics of the glorious Mary Magdalene. To do so, the good King gathered a large assembly of prelates, noblemen, and other people. There was in Marseille a man from Corse, who had been unable to use his limbs for the past two years. The man was told that the revealing of Magdalene’s body had to be done with sincere devotion and solemnity through that Lord prince and the other people in Saint Maximin. Making a wish, the crippled man promised that he would be present at that revealing, if he could.
And, because he was unable to walk on his own, no matter how hard he tried, his wife and one of his sons built a wagon on wheels. They placed him in the wagon and pulling it the best that they could, they brought him to Saint-Maximin.
While all the helping hands celebrated that revelation with great devotion and reverence, the cripple incessantly elevated his prayers to God and Saint Mary Magdalene. But, because of his sins, or maybe because his faith in the Saint was not sturdy enough or maybe his hope was wobbly, he did not receive the full blessing in health he had been asking for, but instead, he only received the capacity to move his hands and his feet, while the rest of his body remained incapacitated, just like before.
To his dismay, he was brought back to Marseille on the wagon by his kin and remained in his crippled state for five years. And because suffering engenders comprehension, due to torments and pain he constantly endured, he understood and believed that the miracles, he had heard about Magdalene, were true, and that he had to turn to her with greater devotion and trust than he did the first time.
With great faith and firm hope, he took it upon himself to implore the help of Magdalene more frequently with his whole heart, promising her and God to visit for a second time her relics in Saint Maximin.
On wonders! Astonishing feat!
As soon as he uttered his wish, that man, who had been afflicted with infirmity for seven years in ways that prevented him from getting up on his own, started walking with the support of two sticks. He didn’t wait long to get on his way to Saint Maximin, he moved along the route with his two sticks. And the closer he was getting to the place where lies the body of Magdalene, the more felt that the virtue of God and Magdalene was supporting him; as soon as his feet touched the territory of Saint Maximin, he felt a surplus of strength coming from God and Magdalene move into his limbs to the point where he let go of one of his sticks and only needed the help of one.
In Saint Maximin, the man entered the church with great trust, and offered himself in prayer with tears and a great devotion. And so, the divine virtue fortified all his limbs, restored their full function so that each limb was now autonomous. He was therefore fully and completely healed by God through the merits of Magdalene. He offered them the praises he owed them and left the wagon at the church as a testimony to the miracle that had taken place there, and also the sticks he no longer needed thanks to the Saint.”
For a list of recommended reads on Mary the Magdalene, click here.
You can find the gorgeous art work of Kristyn Brown here.
Gobi, Jean. Miracles de Sainte Marie Madeline, edited by Jacqueling Sclafer.