THE HOMETOWN OF MARY MAGDALENE sits on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Magdala was a coastal fishing town located 4 miles north of Tiberias and 7 miles south of Capernaum. Although Mary Magdalene figured prominently in the ministry of Jesus and in the New Testament, relatively little is known about the place where she lived. A major new excavation is planned by the Franciscans who own the site.