While we do not know for certain what happened, here are a few traditions passed down over the centuries.
The last time we see Mary Magdalene in the Bible, Jesus says to her, “[G]o to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God'” (John 20:17).
She did exactly that and proclaimed to them, “I have seen the Lord!” After that, the rest of the Bible is silent in regards to where she went and what she did.
However, there are varying traditions that give some possibilities as to where she went after Jesus’ resurrection.
The medieval text known as the Golden Legend paints Mary Magdalene as a preacher. For example, it gives one story where Mary Magdalene teaches some pagans about Jesus Christ.
When blessed Mary Magdalene saw the people gathering at the shrine to offer sacrifice to the idols, she came forward, her manner calm and her face serene, and with well-chosen words called them away from the cult of idols and preached Christ fervidly to them.
After a few adventures preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Golden Legend claims that she went into solitude for the rest of her life.
At this time blessed Mary Magdalene, wishing to devote herself to heavenly contemplation, retired to an empty wilderness, and lived unknown for thirty years in a place made ready by the hands of angels.
According to this account, she died after receiving Holy Communion from a priest friend of hers who lived nearby.
On the other hand, the Catholic Encyclopedia relates a few differing stories.
The Greek Church maintains that the saint retired to Ephesus with the Blessed Virgin and there died, that her relics were transferred to Constantinople in 886 and are there preserved. Gregory of Tours supports the statement that she went to Ephesus.
There is even a tradition that Mary Magdalene went to France. According to AtlasObscura, “When Mary Magdalene fled the Holy Land, legend says she took refuge in a cave [near the Sainte-Baume mountains in southern France]. This mountaintop cave is now a hidden monastery called the Sanctuary of Mary Magdalene.”
Some of her relics are reportedly located in a church in Aix-en-Provence, France, near where she was a hermit for 30 years.
It is uncertain which of these legends, if any, is true, but whatever the case might have been, Mary Magdalene likely had a privileged place in the early Church for her personal encounter with the risen Lord.
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