Ecumenical News Service International June 29, 2015

Books, learned articles, novels, poems, even speeches in the General Synod of the Church of England; Mary of Magdala has achieved more attention than any other figure in the New Testament apart from Jesus himself. But never more so than as a result of the recent discoveries by Italian professor of Paleo-christian Archaeology, Guiseppe Bari.

In an obscure catacomb off the Via Salaria in Rome, Bari has discovered a wall-painting of a woman wearing a triple tiara. The accompanying inscription announces that this is a picture of Mary, the first Pope’.

In a programme on Italian television Professor Bari outlined the importance of the find. ‘Up until now a male misogynist conspiracy has hidden the real truth about the origins of the Roman Church, in order to deny women their inalienable rights to be ordained to the priesthood. Now that we know that the first Pope was a woman the whole edifice crumbles to the ground. The Curia has to take notice of this. /\lo longer can women be oppressed’.

A statement by the Cardinal Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has achieved little press attention. Said Cardinal Maretto, ‘The fresco is most probably a forgery from the twelfth or thirteenth century. The triple tiara was unknown before the Middle Ages’. Said former nun Anna Berlotta, spokesperson for Ordination Now, the militant group for women’s ordination in the Catholic Church, ‘He would say that, wouldn’t he?

The discovery has sparked a plethora of articles in the media, including pieces in Time Magazine and The Economist and programmes on television in the United States, Canada and most European countries. As a result campaigning for women’s ordination has intensified across the world.

At a recent public audience in St Peter’s Square the Popemobile was surrounded by a mob of angry women and the whole crowd joined a deputation of Spanish nuns from Toledo chanting ‘Raus! Raus! Raus!’ The Pope was eventually rescued by a detachment of the Swiss Guard and escaped up the Scala Regia to safety in the Vatican Palace, which is presently being protected by a battalion of Italian paratroopers.