This surname evolved through an intermediate form, Madde, which was a nickname for Madeleine. Its use as a personal name probably owes a great deal to James Madison, a major contributor to the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, as well as U.S. President during the War of 1812. In one of history's great circles, the name is currently in vogue as a personal name for girls.
Magdala was a village on the Sea of Galilee, supposedly the home of the character in the Christian scriptures known as Mary of Magdala, or Mary Magdalene.
Though the town had an unsavory reputation, there is no scriptural support for Mary's identification as a courtesan who forsook her sinful ways to follow Jesus of Nazareth. However, this is her place in Christian tradition, and she stands as a symbol of the redeemable sinner, accepted and forgiven regardless of her sordid past.