altar decorated for Advent
Advent environment

Saint Mary Magdalene Chapel@St. Matthew's Lutheran Church in NoHo

A description by Deacon Jim: In the 1950’s when this room was originally built, it was a Women’s Lounge and it was furnished with two stained glass windows reflecting feminine spirituality. One is the Jewish matriarch Ruth and the other is Mary, the Mother of Jesus, thus symbolizing both Jewish and Christian Scriptures. Mary is depicted in priestly robes as the Mother of All Priests, a controversial portrayal that is frowned upon in orthodox Roman Catholicism. This tradition of Mary as Priest has been championed by the movement in favor of ordaining female clergy. It is rather curious that both figures have a sort of androgynous or transgendered appearance and could easily be mistaken for men in drag. With no disrespect to the artist or to the two women portrayed, such visual presentation takes on more significance in the latest use of the space as dedicated to prayer and worship for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Inter-sexed and Queer/Questioning (LGBTIQ) individuals.

So, it is appropriate that the San Fernando Valley Chapter of Dignity USA add another female image to this space and bless this room as a place of worship under the patronage of a woman apostle who has had a history of controversy and infamy within the Church.  Saint Mary Magdalene Chapel is a place where those misunderstood and maligned by Roman Church officials and official Roman Church teachings may find welcome and grace, while still holding onto the beauty of the Roman Catholic liturgy and tradition. Started in 1996 and under the principal patronage of the soldier Saint Ferdinand, King of Spain (San Fernando Rey), this local Dignity chapter meets each week for liturgy. On May 30th, St. Ferdinand shares his feast day with Saint Joan of Arc, another misunderstood woman. Among canonized saints she enjoys the unusual distinction of having been previously condemned by the Church and executed as a heretic. Thus, she may legitimately be claimed as a patron of all those men and women vilified in their own time in the hope of eventual vindication.

With these and other powerful saintly patrons ~ like Saints Sergio and Bacchus, Saints Boris and Gleb, and Saints Nereus and Achilleus and a whole cloud of witnesses ~ the Dignity SFV chapter dedicates and blesses this room as a sacred space for prayer and worship on June 2, 2012, celebrating the Solemnity of The Most Holy Trinity.

stained glass window and St. Ferdinand statue
stained glass window: Mary as priestess and St. Ferdinand statue
image of Mary of Magdala
icon of Mary of Magdala by Robert Lentz, OFM