Welcome, friends, to the Round of the Elate Eight. As we get deeper into the madness, the tone changes from the educational to the whimsical as we focus on saintly kitsch. At this point, we’ve learned about 32 saints — 16 in even greater detail. Now is the time to see what popular culture has done to/for them. We don’t view such items as sacrilegious but merely fascinating — see Meredith Gould’s footnote below. But, then again, if you’ve stuck with Lent Madness to this point you know that we have a great reverence for the saints even as we keep our sense of humor intact.
In yesterday’s final battle of the Saintly Sixteen Emma of Hawaii surged past Paul of Tarsus 56% to 44% with over 2,000 votes cast. Later this week Emma will face Thomas Cranmer with a trip to the Faithful Four on the line.
To make it this far, Mary Magdalene defeated John Huss and Joan of Arc while Evelyn Underhill bested Nicholas and Monnica. Click on the links to see the previous write-ups by our fabulous Celebrity Bloggers and check the updated bracket for future match-ups.
When considering the following items inspired by Mary Magdalene, it’s probably good to remember this adage when labeling something as kitsch*: “One person’s trash is another’s treasure.” Consider this nod toward situational taste as my way of apologizing if any of the following Mary Magdalene-branded trash is something you’d treasure. Please note that I’m not including images of reliquaries out of respect for those who reverence such things.
Also note how popular depictions of this Apostle to the Apostles contain a mash-up of myth and legend. In no special order – so don’t try to figure it out – I offer for your amazement and amusement the following items:
From sales copy for the Mary Magdalene WisdomDoll: “… long, wavy auburn hair, sunned skin tone, hand-painted face …. simulated leather boots, a sign during her time of ties to a wealthy family. Her deep purple dress is regal and majestic. The color suggests wisdom and knowledge.” Read the whole description here to learn more about the “powerful imagery” of the hand-made attire for this award-winning, 16” doll priced at $129.
Feeling manipulated? Then regain your power by getting the Mary Magdalene puppet instead. It’s 28” tall, has a workable mouth, comes with one rod that can be attached to either hand for movement, and currently on sale for $45.
Need some blessed super-bas relief? Go for this statue:
Preparing His body? Woman of Sorrows bathing His feet with her tears and hair? Anointing His head with precious salve? Yummy-smelling Temple prostitute? This candle includes 100% natural essential oils of Frankincense, Ylang, and Spikenard, so you decide which Mary Magdalene is being honored.
A garnet is embedded in it. Why? Among other things, it’s a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice. But why a fleur-de-lis, a symbol of Mary, Mother of God appears on Mary Mag’s third eye is beyond me. (Enlarge the picture to behold her wild-eyed look of WhatEver.)
At $78.95 for solid sterling silver or $280.95 for white or yellow gold, they’re pretty pricy kitsch, but remember: you’re honoring the person to whom Jesus the Risen Christ first appeared. Worth it!
And so what if this goodie is supposed to be a Christmas tree ornament? Consider giving it to a loved one on St. Mary Magdalene’s Feast Day (July 22). The description of this $33.50 bauble makes my point about myth mash-ups, read it here.
*Definition of kitsch: “something of tawdry design, appearance, or content created to appeal to popular or undiscriminating taste.”
Who better to inform the world of Evelyn Underhill kitsch than Dana Greene, the president of the Evelyn Underhill Association? Surely Evelyn Underhill merchandise abounds at the annual Day of Quiet Reflection at the National Cathedral. However, in response to an email asking about Underhill kitsch and photographic evidence thereof, Dr. Greene replied, “Glad to help, but not absolutely sure what you want.”
Clearly, Evelyn Underhill products are not prevalent at Association events, leaving the path open for an enterprising person who wishes to capitalize on this lack—though further research shows that the field is far from clear.
First there is the (copyrighted) Underhill family crest, also available on a mug or keychain, linking you not only to Evelyn but to other notable Underhills such as Walter Underhill, a 19th-century Congressman who served on the board of managers of the Society for the Reformation of Juvenile Delinquents in New York City. (No hobbits are mentioned among the notables listed.)
More specific Evelyn Underhill items do exist, such as the T-shirt, mug, mousepad, magnet, greeting card, tea towel and keychain featuring a portrait by Mary Evans, which seems rather pedestrian as far as kitsch goes.
There is, however, a great niche market left untapped: namely, the Evelyn Underhill™ personal home mystic kit! Searching in vain for such an item unearthed only the Mystic Tan Perfect Tan Kit, both body and face. Now all we need is someone to develop the Mystic Tan Perfect Soul Kit. Surely Evelyn Underhill would lend her name to such a worthy product. Other Evelyn Underhill™ franchisees may have further ideas for this untapped market, which would be wonderful to see in the comments.
Mary Magdalene vs. Evelyn Underhill
- Mary Magdalene (77%, 1,179 Votes)
- Evelyn Underhill (23%, 349 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,528