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A month or so ago, articles were published highlighting St. Ismeria as Jesus’ Great Grandmother. I suppose biblical scholars find this a bit of old news, but for the rest of us, (read: me) its fascinating. History is almost always written by men, and patrilineages were the only historical lineages that mattered, mostly for tracing the rights to property and inheritance, so finding a bit of such a profound matrilineage was actually a big deal. Read one of the articles here. I think there are several reports, but this was the first one shared with me by my husband.

Ortenburg Alterpiece

I love this image of the Ortenburg altarpiece. St. Ismeria is on the back row, to the far right. But all the women have red hair. The crowns have fleur-de-lis, and a beautiful white lily is being handed to the Mary at center. It says so much.What I’m thinking is a little deeper, though. Red hair and lilies are well connected to Mary Magdalene, but what this image says to me is that it’s not just her, but a lineage of women, who inherit these symbols. Women of God, women healers. “Ismeria then goes to a hospital where she finds refuge. She is said to perform a miracle, filling a shell with fish to feed all of the hospital’s patients.” It is known that Mary Magdalene went to France after the Crucifixion, but why that specific location? It always appears that it was a random location, without a support network save for the few loyal companions she brought with her. But what if it wasn’t random at all? What if Ismeria, years before,  founded the hospital she retired to, in France? What if Mary Magdalene not only went there after the Crucifixion seeking refuge, but had actually been there before to mourn Ismeria and was familiar with the area and the people? Not a far stretch, my friends. I’m even willing to go as far as to say that this lineage of women were not just spiritual but physical healers and leaders, as well; a calling from God.’While the author of the Ismeria legend remains unknown, Lawless thinks it could have been a layperson from Tuscany. During the medieval period, “the story may have been used as a model for continent wifehood and active, charitable widowhood in one of the many hospitals of medieval Florence.”‘ This is plausible, but here is another limb I’m willing to go out on: What if the chronicler of the Ismeria legend was Countess Matilda of Tuscany? She was known for her generous contributions to the church, as well as her commitment to education and the love of architecture.

Just pondering…