The Magdalene in a Strasbourg Cathedral tympanum

Tympanum from Strasbourg Cathedral, Gothic style – closeup of Mary Magdalene

The expression on Magdalene’s face is breathtaking here. The way she clasps one of her own hands in another makes me feel as though she wishes to hold Christ’s hand in hers but knows she cannot; he is dead and all she can do is stare and hold back despair even as her heart sinks inside her and she falls to sit, the weight of grief too heavy to stand.

Now we are they who weep, and trembling keep
Vigil, with wrung heart in a sighing breast,
While slow time creeps, and slow the shadows creep.

– Christina Rossetti, from ‘A Song for All Maries’