The holy Myrrhbearer and Equal of the Apostles Mary Magdalene was from the village of Magdala on the Sea of Galilee. At some point in her life, she came under the possession of seven demons. The Lord Jesus cast the demons out (Luke 8), and Mary became His disciple. Along with several other pious women-disciples, Mary gave her money and possessions to pay for the Lord's needs as He traveled throughout the land. Mary and the other women followed Him all the way to the Cross, with only the Mother of God and the Apostle John remaining to the end. On the morning of Pascha (Easter), Mary was the first to go to the tomb. The Lord appeared to her, but she thought He was the gardener, until He said her name and she recognized Him.
The Church's sacred tradition relates that Mary went with the Apostles to preach to the nations. In Rome, she visited Emperor Tiberias and proclaimed the Resurrection, using a red egg as a symbol of new life. From her preaching, the Church has received the paschal symbol of the red egg, which we still share on Pascha to this day. She continued to preach throughout Italy and helped Saint Peter in Rome. After Saint Paul arrived there, in her old age she went to Ephesus and finished her life there with Saint John. Her feast is celebrated on July 22, and also on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Women, the second Sunday after Pascha.
In this icon, Saint Mary holds the red egg as she did before Caesar. She also holds a jar of myrrh, as she was one of the women who went to anoint the Lord's body, and a cross. The presence of a cross usually means the saint was a martyr; Mary was not, but her self-sacrifice and willingness to confess the Faith in the face of danger makes her equal in spirit to the martyrs.