“How beautiful […] are the feet of him who brings the gospel.” Isaiah 52:7
Isaiah’s prophecy about the Messianic age clearly echoed in the heart of the woman who anoints Christ’s feet early in his ministry. As the scene unfolds, the evangelist Luke describes her as a “sinner” and “woman of the city” (Lk 7:37). As Jesus dines at a Pharisee’s house, she arrives with an alabaster flask of ointment to anoint him. Luke’s description of the scene emphasizes Christ’s feet repeatedly: “standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment” (Lk 7:38). Because she is unnamed, speculation abounds concerning her identity. One early Christian tradition sees her as St. Mary Magdalene.
Luke formally introduces the reader to Mary Magdalene in the very next verses of his gospel in chapter 8. The early band of Christ’s followers travels throughout Galilee preaching the gospel, composed of the twelve apostles along with several generous women who provide for them out of their own means (Lk 8:3). One of those women is “Mary, called Magdalene, from who seven demons had gone out” (Lk 8:2). It is interesting to observe that Mary’s prominence among the disciples is emphasized by the fact that whenever the female disciples from Galilee are mentioned in the gospels, Mary Magdalene’s name is listed first.