Magdalen, Religious Order of

Magdalen, Religious Order Of a denomination given to divers communities of nuns, consisting generally of reformed prostitutes; sometimes also called Magdalenettes. They were established at Naples in 1324, at Paris in 1492, at Mentz in 1542, and at Rouen and Bordeaux in 1618. In each of these monasteries there were three kinds of persons and congregations: (1) nuns proper and under vow, bearing the name of St. Magdalen; (2) the congregation of St. Martha, composed of those not yet fully avowed; (3) the congregation of St. Lazarus, composed of such as were detained by force. The Order of St. Magdalen at Rome was established by pope Leo X. Clement VIII settled a revenue on them, and further appointed that the effects of all public prostitutes dying intestate should fall to them, and that the testaments of the rest should be invalid unless they bequeathed to them a portion of their effects, at least a fifth part. The term originated in the mistaken notion that Mary Magdalen, of whom we read in the Gospel, was a woman of bad character; a notion which is still very prevalent, notwithstanding the increased attention that has been given to the interpretation of holy Scripture. SEE MARY MAGDALEN.

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