In Christian tradition Mary Magdalene came to symbolize (without much biblical support) the fallen woman who repents. Roman Catholics made Mary Magdalene a saint, and her name was attached to the "Magdalene laundries" that flourished in Ireland throughout the 1900s. These convents, many run by the Sisters of Mercy, were designed as asylums for wayward Catholic girls who were sent there to learn humility and respect. But what they did most was laundry, lots of it, while learning to fear the wrath of the nuns and priests who ran the institutions.
The brutal story of the Magdalene laundries is the subject of The Magdalene Sisters, by Scottish actor/writer/director Peter Mullan, who delivers numerous body blows to the Catholic Church. The tale unfolds outside Dublin in the 1960s and centers on three teenage girls who have ended up, for different reasons, at the local Magdalene asylum.
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