Mary Magdalene, Church of The Hague

Significance of the Icon

It is the year 1816 and Russian royalty Anna Paulowna (1795-1865) and Dutch prince (later king) Willem II (1792-1849) are getting married. To welcome Anna Paulowna to The Netherlands, the Maria Magdalena Orthodox Church of The Hague was built in 1817 in her honor. It is a place that brings together Orthodox Christians and is home to icons with incredible historical, cultural, and spiritual significance.

According to the ancient tradition of the East, Maria Magdalena was a wealthy woman from whom Christ expelled seven “demons.” During the three years of Jesus’ ministry, she helped support Him and His other disciples with her money. When almost everyone else fled, she stayed with Him at the cross. On Easter morning she was the first to bear witness to His resurrection. She is called “Equal to the Apostles.” This is the icon after which the church was named and she sits alongside many other icons in the church.

On October 21st, 2017, the Dutch Church celebrated its 200th anniversary. Being Orthodox, the church is home to a lot of icons which are crucial to its significance in this project. The church has a historical inventory from the former court chapel of Queen Anna Paulowna.

When she married the future King William II in 1816, she received a large dowry. We know exactly what they contained from inventory lists. It is striking that the liturgical objects that are now in the church are mentioned. Only then did the list of jewelry and furniture follow. “It proves that faith and the church were very important to Queen Anna Paulowna” says Nicolaas W. Conijn who renovated and manages the heritage as a curator of the church.

“It proves that faith and the church were very important to Queen Anna Paulowna.”

Nicolaas W. Conijn, Curator of the Church.

Through connecting with, and observing the beauty and historically important details and artifacts of the church, young people can feel empowered and interested to learn about the European historical and artistic heritage. It may improve their skills and competencies in the aspects of creativity as they familiarize themselves with the culture and artistic passion associated with the religious creations in the church.

In addition, the 18 to 30-year-old target group can go through and bond over the experience together, hence expanding and strengthening their networks and new models of collaboration that stimulate intercultural dialogue and the development of a creative spirit among them. These added values of learning directly reflect the project objectives.

Our contemporary reinterpretations

The Dutch and Italian teams joined forces to craft a Santino, a sacred card intended to be carried in one’s wallet or purse, serving as a constant reminder of virtuous actions and a symbol of hope and reassurance in life.

The front and back of the Santino are depicted here. The image of Mary Magdalene has been composed using multiple photos that were shot around The Hague.

The Greek team reimagined Mary Magdalene if she had different ethic backgrounds. Read their chat with an Artificial Intelligence (AI) engine:

The North Macedonian team created an infographic and a couple of posters as seen below.