Photographer's Note


July 22nd

Today is the annual celebration of the Feast Day of Mary Magdalene, according to Roman Catholic Church. And the picture I am offering today showing Mr. Mon, 69 years old — the church keeper — in front of his St. Mary Magdalene Church in Svay Pak brothel area near Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

While the question of whether Mary Magdalene Saint or Sinner never comes to an end, the existence of a church at the heart of brothel area is not a phenomenon. It’s a necessity. More than that, the name of the church’s patron saint is a woman with a meaningful relationship.

She is the woman whom three Gospels agree was the first witness to Christ's Resurrection is having her own kind of rebirth. Mary Magdalene first appears in the Gospel of Luke as one of several apparently wealthy women Jesus cures of possession, who join him and the Apostles. Her name does not come up again until the Crucifixion, which she and other women witness from the foot of the Cross, the male disciples having fled. On Easter Sunday morning, she visits Jesus' sepulcher, either alone or with other women, and discovers it empty. She learns that he is risen. John's recounting is the most dramatic. She is solo at the empty tomb. She alerts Peter and an unnamed disciple; only the latter seems to grasp the Resurrection, and they leave. Lingering, Magdalene encounters Jesus, who asks her not to cling to him, "but go to my brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father... and my God." However, in popular Christian tradition Mary Magdalene is a prostitute who finds redemption by apprenticing herself to Jesus.

According to Wikipedia, “Mary Magdalene is often referred to as a prostitute, but she was never called one in the New Testament. The identification of Mary Magdalene as a prostitute came from Pope Gregory the Great. Pope Gregory did not call her a "prostitute" but used her as a model of the Christian, as a repentant sinner. The image of Mary Magdalene as a prostitute seems to have arisen sometime after this. Her became a symbol of repentance for the vanities of the world to various sects. Mary Magdalene was the patron of Magdalen College, Oxford, and Magdalene College, Cambridge. In contrast, her name was also used for the infamous Magdalen Asylums in Ireland where "fallen women" were mistreated and exploited.”

So don’t be nervous as you see this church built among brothels. ”In Rome, in the 11th century, a brothel and a church stood side by side, and five hundred years after, under the pontificate of Paul II., prostitutes were numerous.” (Source)

The Middle Ages in Europe witnessed a universal paradox of tolerance and condemnation with regards to prostitution. While technically a sin, prostitution was recognized by the church and others as a necessary, or "lesser evil". It was accepted as fact that young men would seek out sexual relations regardless of their options, and thus prostitution served to protect "respectable" townswomen from seduction and even rape. In 1358, the Grand Council of Venice declared that prostitution was "absolutely indispensable to the world". In general, declarations proclaiming the necessity of prostitution were not quite so enthusiastic. Indeed, the church did not hesitate to denounce prostitution as morally wrong, but as St. Augustine explained: "If you expel prostitution from society, you will unsettle everything on account of lusts". Thus, the general tolerance of prostitution was for the most part reluctant, and many canonists urged prostitutes to reform, either by marrying or by becoming nuns.

Prostitution in the Middle Ages was, much as it is today, primarily an urban institution. Especially in Italy, efforts were made early on by municipal governments to expel prostitutes from the cities, but to no avail. The demand was simply far too great, as not only young unmarried men, but men with wives and even members of the clergy considered themselves in need. Many cities decided to take advantage of the situation and earn a little money, setting up municipal brothels with laws and restrictions prohibiting beatings of the prostitutes by brothel keepers, restricting the number of customers a prostitute might entertain in one day, and of course demanding a certain percentage of all earnings. In 1403, about forty years after ending a long policy of expulsion, the municipal government in Venice established its own brothel in the Rialto, which has since become the traditional center of prostitution in the city. (Source)

(To be continued tomorrow)


Richard1, jwillie44 marcou esta nota como útil

Photo Information
Viewed: 10848
Points: 2
  • None
Additional Photos by Ngy Thanh (ngythanh) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 471 W: 125 N: 2332] (8458)
View More Pictures