José Luís Espejo - Some "gozos" to Maria Magdalena (and Leonardo)

Some "gozos" to Maria Magdalena (and Leonardo)

A sunny and warm day of September of the year 2014 I carried out a visit to the beautiful chapel of Maria Magdalena, in the village of El Puig (Gelida, province of Barcelona). I decided to ask the nearest neighbor if he could leave me the key to see the chapel inside. This good man, very friendly, lent it to me. On this way I have felt pleasantly surprised by the existence in this temple of some details certainly significant, on the figure of Maria Magdalena.

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Santa Magdalena del Puig is a good observatory of the mountain of Montserrat

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Façade of Santa Magdalena del Puig, a 14th-century building

The furniture conforms to what we can expect in a rural, well prepared but simple hermitage. The carving of the virgin is of modern style. Despite being a 14th century building, there is no relevant architectural aspect. I have not found examples of glyptics that seem me remarkable (no marks of stonework, or engravings on the stone). Only on the door of entry, with a band of embossed metal (with geometric shapes and details of flowers), I called attention to.

However, in the interior of the church, very near the gate, I found something -I think- important: a showcase with a series of "goigs" (or "gozos" in Spanish) in honor to Maria Magdalena. One of them adjusts to the legend of the French Provence that says that the Magdalena arrived in Marseille some years after the death of Christ. Here are some passages:

“De cristo resucitado / sois el testigo primero / y del sepulcro lucero / a todo el Apostolado: / Miran la resurrección, / y admiran la Precursora. / Alcanzadnos, Protectora… En la cueva de Marsella / ayunáis treinta y tres años… / Guardad a los de Gelida…”

"Of risen Christ / you are the first witness / and of the grave the star / to all the apostolate: / They all look the resurrection, / and admire the precursor. / Reach us, protective... In the cave of Marseille / you fast thirty-three years... / Take care of Gelida..."

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"Gozo" in honour to Maria Magdalena. Here is called "beloved disciple"

Note the following detail: in the heading of this "gozo" to Maria Magdalena (in Spanish) she is called "famous penitent and chastely beloved disciple of Jesus". Now consider the passages of the Gospel according to John where is mentioned the "beloved disciple of Jesus", which assumes the identity of John the Evangelist. From my point of view, in the Gospel of John the "beloved disciple" can hide really the figure of Maria Magdalena, author of the gospel of Maria Magdalena, very well known between Cathars and beguins in Occitan and Catalan lands. Furthermore, in the illustration who heads the "gozo" in praise to María Magdalena, the sainte holds a pen in her right hand, and a book (her gospel?) in the left hand. Reference to her identification with John the Evangelist, or as author of her own (Maria Magdalena) gospel?

The Church of the Cister monastery of Santes Creus, in Tarragona, houses an altarpiece, dated in the year 1603, in which María Magdalena clearly adopts the role of John the Evangelist; the sainte appears pregnant to the feet of the cross of Christ, in the calvary. As it is well known, Leonardo places, at his last supper, Maria Magdalena (or someone with face of woman) occupying the place of John the Evangelist. Peter rebukes her in a blatant way. This -according to the Gnostic Gospels- could have caused her flight from Palestine with destination to Provence (see below).

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Santes Creus: Saint John characterized as Maria Magdalena

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Santes Creus: the pregnant Magdalena, to the foot of the cross of the Calvary

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The Magdalena takes the place of Saint John in the Last Supper by Leonardo

The Magdalena, in the heading of the "gozo", is called as "beloved" giving -perhaps- idea of a carnal relationship between she and Jesus Christ. On the other hand, the Magdalena is seen as a "disciple". She recognizes to Christ, in the Gospel of John, as her "master"; in fact, in Catalonia is regarded commonly as "apostolessa". Not only that: in the "gozo" she is considered "pioneer". Forerunner of what? Perhaps of a new Church, which retained the real message of Christ, free of the influences of Peter and Paul?

In a catalan document of the 15th century, of request and granting of Royal privilege for the confraternity of Santa Magdalena de Corbera (province of Barcelona), it is said: "Haien mester adobs e reparació perquè la dita benaventurada apostolessa sia venerada e visitada a honor e glòria de Nostre Senyor Déu Jesucrist e de Madonna Sacta Maria e de la dita benaventurada apostolessa Santa Maria Magdalena..." Note that Maria Magdalena is mentioned here in quality of "Apostle" (Josep Maria Riera i Bagué. Documents de la Història de Corbera de Llobregat). Remember; in this "gozo" is said: "Of risen Christ / you are the first witness / and of the grave the star / to all the apostolate". This phrase indicates very clearly that here, in Gelida, Maria Magdalena is considered as main and unique example among the Apostles of Christ.

In what refers to the "carnal" nature of Jesus Christ, who is regarded in Catalonia and Provence as consort and father of the progeny of Maria Magdalena (mother of at least one daughter, Sara), there is one detail in this "gozo" which seems to confirm this interpretation. If we look well, the word "Christ" is writen with "c" (lowercase, not uppercase), as we could expect in a man, not in the Son of God ("Christ" means literally "anointed"). Perhaps in allusion to His carnal nature? This "gozo" of Maria Magdalena seems to give reason to the altarpiece of Santes Creus, in which such penitent sainte appears pregnant, to the foot of the cross.

However, is another "goig" (this time in catalan) the most important to me. Accompanying to it, we see reflected a strange symbol in form of "comma", located immediately below the illustration.

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"Goig" in honor to Maria Magdalena. A strange symbol appears in the form of "comma"

It would be nothing special, if it wasn't because I found this sign in two paintings related to Leonardo (perhaps). The "comma" joins two characters: in both cases, one 3 and one M, in allusion to the three Marys who landed at Marseilles or at Saintes Maries de la Mer (or Leucata, depending on the version of the "Provençal legend" of Maria Magdalena that we have in mind), shortly after the death of Jesus Christ. I talk on this subject in the article Leonardo and the mistery of Maria Magdalena.

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In La Gioconda in Madrid, and in Barcelona's Magdalena Leggente, a "comma" is accompanying the characters 3 and M (the three Marys)

I would appreciate if anyone can give me (Esta dirección de correo electrónico está protegida contra spambots. Usted necesita tener Javascript activado para poder verla. ) any idea of the symbolism of this strange figure ("comma"). What relationship might have with the Provençal legend of Maria Magdalena? And with La Gioconda de Madrid; and with the Magdalena Leggente de Barcelona?

Whatever it is, this small figure ("comma") seems to imply that Leonardo (if he was the author of both paintings, as I believe) had a great interest in the "Provençal legend" of María Magdalena; up to the point of leaving testimony of this, in form of cryptograms, in some of their works.

Finally, I would like to highlight that both "gozos" dedicated to the Magdalena (in Spanish and in Catalan), well rooted in the villa of Gelida (Barcelona), are the testimony of the fact that the heterodox cult to this sainte had continuity in catalan land until relatively recent dates.

More symbols

Once more my good friend David Vilasís has surprised me with an interesting finding:

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Another "gozo" dedicated to Maria Magdalena. Note the three little flowers, signaled by the finger of the sainte

It's a "gozo" in praise to Santa Magdalena published in Barcelona. In it we see the role of the Magdalena as "loving" and "Apostle" of Christ. In regards to her relationship of carnal love, this seems obvious in the following paragraphs:

"Pues vuestras lágrimas son / lo que a Dios tanto enamora... Llora Cristo enamorado, / y olvidando sus enojos / se le anticipan los ojos / a la Llaga del Costado... Al pie del Sacro Madero, / recogeis enamorada, / aquella tierra regada / con la sangre del Cordero..."

"Your tears are / what makes God fall in love... Weep Christ in love, / and forgetting His anger / anticipate Their eyes / on the sore of the side... At the foot of the sacred timber, / you pick up in love, / that land irrigated / with the blood of the lamb..."

In what refers to her work as an apostle after the resurrection of Jesus:

"De Christo Resucitado / soys primera Luz hermosa, / y Apostola misteriosa / de su mismo apostolado: / pues de la Resurrección / Soys Divina Precursora..."

"Of risen Christ / you are the first beautiful light, / and mysterious Apostoless / of the same apostolate: / because of the resurrection / you are divine precursor..."

David Vilasís makes me notice that the finger of Maria Magdalena indicates what look like three flowers in the same position of the belt of Orion, which represents the three Saint-John (or Cathar) stars of which I speak in another article (Las tres estrellas).

A strange alineation

After a few moments of thinking, I have remembered that in the map of Catalonia that is hanged in my studio I marked some time ago the location of two chapels of Santa Maria Magdalena: on one side and another of Montserrat. It's Santa Magdalena del Pla (near El Pont de Vilomara, in the vicinity of Manresa) and Santa Magdalena del Puig (within walking distance of Gelida). These two hermitages, and Santa Magdalena in Montserrat, have an alineation very similar to the three stars of the belt of Orion (as I've pointed out above, perhaps with a Cathar meaning).

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The location of the two Santa Magdalena, on one side and another of Montserrat, make up the three Cathar stars

The hermitage of Santa Magdalena del Pla is very old (is documented in the year 1077), what evidences the early cult to this sainte in Catalonia, in the first times of the generalization of the so called "Provençal legend of Maria Magdalena".

An e-mail from Miquel Manubens has given a new dimension to this finding. After consulting a friend (Miquel Rius, expert in the figure of Ramon Llull), he has communicated to me that Santa Magdalena del Puig is located in what was the templar "encomienda" (feudal land) of Les Juncoses (documented in 1140, in the first times of this order of cavalry). A later message from Ramon Rovira, chronicler of Gelida (www.gelida.org), stresses this aspect.

This provides a new point of reference. Santa Magdalena del Puig, aligned with Montserrat and Santa Magdalena del Pla, plays the same role as the Templar Chapel of Santa Magdalena in Aiguaviva (Girona). Which is given by the symbolism of the "comma", pointed out above.

The enigma, solved

My good friend Carles Pujol has found the solution to the enigma of the "comma". Here there are his arguments (collected from various sources):

Dear Jose Luis:

I have suddenly remembered that "coma" is also called "virgula". I was tempted to think that it comes from "virgo", but no, it comes from "virga" (rod), which came to be, I guess, what we now call "slash", but that it is synonymous with "comma", which in turn would be the "accent". In any case, would not be surprising that "small verge" was also "virgula" (or "branch of Jesse", "Jesse virgula", as contained in a song that I give you below). So there is this ambivalence, ambiguity or whatever.

Similar origin has also the latin "virga" (branch, rod, sucker), where is derived both the name of "verga", given to the virile member (already recorded in De anima of Cassiodorus, 6th century), and the name "verja", or the trellis that serves as a gate, window or fence. In our Spanish Siglo de Oro (century of gold), the "verja" was not all the trellis as a whole, but each of the bars that composed it. Of the diminutive virgula (wand; hairline or line very thin) comes directly the French virgule (coma), that was used in our language as gallicism during the time of maximum French influence, to the end of the XIX century.

A third latin word that some scholars related to vir is virgo, virginis (girl, maiden, virgin). Already in the 7th century San Isidoro of Sevilla related it with viridis in his Etimologiae, in the sense of "youth": "Virgo a viridiori aetate dicta est"  (the Virgin's name comes from her very tender age). A pure latinism is virgo, both in its sense of virginity, as to designate the sixth sign of the Zodiac, of the 23 of August to the 22 of September. In our culture, the virginity of the women has always had a great value, and has been considered horrendous, an insult, the deflower them out of the marriage (the "verga", or penis, is etymologically very close to virgo). In the Catholic world , the Virgin by excellence, the Virgin with uppercase, has been traditionally the Virgin Maria; but virgin, what is said virgin, there has been in the history of the humanity some few more.

And he adds:

Virgula is a word that is used interchangeably along with "accent" or "tilde". Today is not used at all. The virgula is a concept very ambiguous that has religious origins. Recently I came across with the origin of the specific word "virgin". Virgin is derived from "virgula". The word virgula is currently used to designate a sign apostrophe-shaped, but virgula is actually derived from the croziers or sceptres of the ancient priests, representing their power.

A rod or staff has obvious sexual connotations, and suggests that the power of the old priests came of what is known as the sacred or esoteric sexuality. A "virgin" was a priestess trained in these occult practices, which were more or less universal in all cultures of the world: in China, Egypt, America and India, to name a few. But its current popular conception is located in the Tantra Yoga from India.

By that reason, "virgin" had relationship with a person consecrated to the spiritual life through the sexual practice, which is not equivalent to the indulgence in the mere pleasure, but to the transformation of creative energies within the human being. Therefore, the concept of "virgin" is equivalent to "enshrined".

Here's an old example:

Veni, veni, Emannuel, Captivum solve Israel
Qui gemit in exilio, Privatus Dei filio.

Chorus:

Gaude! Gaude! Emannuel
Nascetur pro te Israel.

Veni, O Iesse virgula, Ex hostis tuos ungula
De specu tuos Tartari Educ, et antro barathri.

Chorus

Veni, Veni, O Oriens, Solare nos adveniens:
Noctis depelle nebulas, Dirasque noctis tenebras.

Chorus

Veni, clavis Davidica, Regna re clude caelica
Fac iter tutum superum, Et claude vias inferum.

Chorus

Vírgula, Virgo, Isis 

Dear friends. Thanks to your amazing cooperation, I believe that we have been able to solve this enigma. The "comma" of the "goig" of Maria Magdalena del Puig (Gelida) refers to the principle that some initiates have called "the eternal feminine". Here it is what the dictionary of symbols of Juan Eduardo Cirlot says about the "Virgo" reference:

"Sixth sign of the zodiac. For the Egyptians is identified with Isis. It is ruled by mercury, and by corresponding to number 6, i.e. for both reasons, symbolizes hermaphroditism, stadium in which the forces are dual, positive and negative..."

In short, this symbol is linked to the "Goddess", to Isis, to the Magna Mater. Its second meaning (a rod) reaffirms its role as "Mother goddess", as sovereign of the pagan Pantheon (of matriarchal nature).

And due to its sexual nature, associated with hermaphroditism (thus explaining the use given by Leonardo to this ambivalence: are famous their androgynous, on the other hand also numerous in the Catalan iconography; see the altarpiece of San Juan Evangelista in Santes Creus, above). The symbol of the "virgula", the "comma", can be a reminiscence of the position of Virgo in the Zodiac (sixth position: the "comma" would represent -inverted- the number 6).

Leonardo placed this symbol ("virgola" in Italian), beside the characters 3 and M (the 3 Marys), to refer to the eternal feminine, which is ultimately what the famous Gioconda symbolizes (both Paris and Madrid's), and also the Magdalena Leggente of Barcelona (which on the other hand is androgynous).

Ultimately, both Leonardo and the author of the "goig" of Gelida would share the same iconographic, symbolic and religious referent. Which is hidden behind the Provençal cult of Maria Magdalena; from my point of view very linked to the Catharism and to the templarism, movements that had an important weigh in Catalonia.

How might this current of thought have come to a Cistercian Church of the 12th century (Santes Creus) or to a rural Chapel of the 14th century (Santa Magdalena del Puig)?

In an old book (Epítome histórico del portentoso monumento y santuario de Nuestra Señora de Montserrat, Pedro Serra y Postius, 1747) is said that after the process of the templars in Catalonia, the survivors of this order were exonerated and integrated in other orders; including the Cistercian order: "(Jaume II) instituted the military order of Montesa, in the Cathedral of Barcelona, being its first master Don Guillen de Eril... Whose order was born of the tragic end of the Templars, that were found innocents in Catalonia". And in a note is added that one of the leaders of the templar order in Catalonia, Bernardo Rovira, "in the year 1322 milited in the Cistercian order,  in the 'Real Monasterio de Santas Cruces'".

So, the templar order was diluted in the Cister order (also in the Montesa order); in particular in Santes Creus. This fact -I believe- could have preserved the ideas that underlie the altarpiece of Saint John Evangelist (with him making the paper of the Magdalena). It is only a guess.

Virgula: its egyptian origin

Reading the book El enigma de la gran pirámide, by André Pochan, I've found what I think it might be the "enigma of the virgula" solution, and its association with Isis.

In the camera underground of the pyramid of Keops exists, in the ceiling, some strange symbols with form of "virgula", but with straight strokes. The author (André Pochan) grants them a special importance.

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On the roof of the underground Chamber of the pyramid of Cheops at Giza, some straight symbols appear in the form of virgula

These symbols are, likewise, in the neighbouring Khafre pyramid:

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In the nearby pyramid of Khafre there are some similar symbols

This, from my point of view, demonstrates that over the millennia, at least since the time of the Egyptians, the symbol of the "virgula" has been an emblem of something that is related to femininity. It is not strange that in the pyramid of Cheops the virgula sign can be found in an underground space type "crypt", which is called popularly, among experts, 'chaos'. Since the "Goddess" always has been associated with the cave, the underground, the water.

The fact that for so many thousands of years (from the ancient Egypt, passing through the symbolism picked up by Leonardo, until modern designers and compilers of "gozos", in this case to Maria Magdalena) has been preserved that symbol means that it has existed -and perhaps still exists- a "chain of initiates" which has retained a residue of the universal tradition, which has arrived to our days.

I think it is clear proof of: 1) Leonardo was part of this "chain of initiates", and 2) Leonardo was the author of the Magdalena Leggente of Barcelona, picture where we can find that symbol (alluding to Isis, and to the goddess), which, as we have just seen, may have origin in ancient Egypt. As already we know, it drew it also on the Mona Lisa of Madrid. In both cases, the virgula is accompanied by the initials 3 and M, alluding to the 3 Marys (to the Magdalena, in fact).

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