The account of the arrival of the female followers of Christ at his tomb is found in all four gospels (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-11; John 20:1-9). Each gospel focuses on different details of the visit.
St Luke’s gospel is one of the most comprehensive. It tells us that a group of women arrived together on Sunday morning, carrying spices, to anoint the body of Christ. The group included St Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of the apostle James, Salome, Joanna, as well as some others. On arrival in the garden where the tomb was, they found it empty – and were told by an angel that Christ had risen from the dead. (Luke 24:1,9-10)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains: “Mary Magdalene and the holy women who came to finish anointing the body of Jesus, which had been buried in haste because the Sabbath began on the evening of Good Friday, were the first to encounter the Risen One. Thus the women were the first messengers of Christ’s Resurrection for the apostles themselves.” (cf Matthew 28:9-10, article 641)
This colourful stained glass window of the episode at the tomb includes just three of the Holy Women, who are all shown with their containers of spices. It most closely matches the description found in Mark 16:1-8 and the traditional portrayal of them in art as the ‘Three Marys’ – St Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Mary Salome.
St Mary Magdalene, previously considered to have had long hair, is shown on the bottom left. The window is by the Mayer firm and dates to 1930. It’s a typical example of the ‘picturesque’ style of this firm, in terms of the use of bright colours and the characters wearing highly decorated robes. Note the details of Christ’s crucifixion – the three crosses in the background (the garden was near his place of death) and the crown of thorns, left behind by the Risen Christ along with his grave-clothes.
See the full image:
Where to find this work of art
St Monica’s, Palmers Green
Read the relevant passage
On a similar theme
- From the Old Testament: According to St Peter, the Psalms speak of the Resurrection of the Messiah.
- From the New Testament: The holy women who discovered the empty tomb were those who were there at the burial of Christ.