Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Happy Feast of the Queenship of Mary!  It struck me the other day how many depictions of Mary that we have in the rectory and in the church.
I did not dare go into the school or this presentation would have doubled with all of the classroom statues and what not.  The one above is a plaster statue that sits outside of the chapel in the rectory.  It doesn't actually belong to us.  We are "storing" it for another priest.  But why not have it out and appreciated.  The tapestry below is in the rectory chapel and is a souvenir of mine from our choir's concert tour in Italy.  I take it to the church on feast days.
I remember being somewhat young and going to a parish that had Mary depicted as an African woman.  My initial (private, thank goodness) reaction was, "That's not Mary."  Of course it was a ridiculous thought because we have not the slightest idea of what Mary looked like.  She was most certainly not the porcelain skinned woman we most often see her as. 

The object is not to get the picture factual, but to portray some truth.  That, in large part, is what icons are all about such as the one above.  Not much attention is even given to correct proportions of facial features but to suggest theological truths. 

What should our depictions of Mary lead us to?  Not to appreciate a particular face but to fall in love with who she was.  It does not really matter what she looked like.  What is important in liturgical art is that it leads us to what made her special and to what (and to Whom) she leads us.

For some reason there are about a half a dozen pictures that will not transfer to my blog.  Maybe it is for the best.  The above which hangs in the rectory is one of my favorites.  It is so simple.  It provides a moment of rest to a busy day whenever I pass it.  

The statue below has an exact replica in front of the rectory (one of the pictures that did not turn out.)  Legend has it that someone once stepped on the gas instead of the break and took Mary out.  She was repaired but the driver insisted on replacing her.  So below is the new statue and the old with some barely visible cracks through it now sits in front of the loggia of the rectory.

Things could not get more different than the statue above.  Mary is relative of Mr. Goldfinger. Ra ra ra ra ra.  It is a nice enough statue and goes well with the church.  I do not find it particularly enticing as a focal point for devotion.  Perhaps that is why Mary is so widely depicted.  She is the universal saint, a saint for everybody.  Could one depiction really capture her uniqueness and universality?  Perhaps there is a Mary depiction out there for everybody.


And above is Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Certainly here is a different depiction of our great saint.  But the Church universal has come to love her in this depiction yet Mary certainly was not an Indian looking woman.  But I wouldn't disguared this depiction of her for anything because it does tell us something about her and more importantly about God.
The finaL picture below is of the Cosmic Madonna, a signed print by Salvadore Dali that hangs in the rectory.  The strange cross between Mary and a what appears to be church architecture and perhaps some elements of the cosmos is not a warm fuzzy.  This is not a Mary to be crowned or have flowers set in front of.  Yet it tells us of some aspects of Our Lady that are none-the-less compelling.
May Mary, our Queen and Our Mother bless your day and her depictions bring you peace, joy, and insight into God, her, and you.


Pat said...

Father, your many depictions of Mary sparked two thoughts.

First, all the "Our Lady of ______" [Guadelupe, Pompei, Czestochowa etc.] show the faith of various peoples, who want to depict her as part of their culture.

But (never having seen an apparition of her!), perhaps Mary also modifies her appearance to each seer, to show her universal motherhood. In the miraculous image of Guadelupe, she apparently chose to appear as a Mestiza (one of mixed race) to her people in that region.

Your final point is most important. The images of Mary (including her own depiction at Guadelupe) teach us the truths of our faith. [For example, in Guadelupe, the black
bow at her waist was used at that time by the indigenous people to show pregnancy.]

ck said...

The fourth picture down is gorgeous. Is that a statue? I'd love to get a hold of that one.

Fr. V said...

It is a painting actually that hangs on the second floor of the west wing of the rectory. I have no idea what it is - who did it - it its worth anything.

Mary W. said...

@ck If we are all talking about the same image, the white one, it is a painting of a once popular, but discontinued Hummel figurine called the Flower Madonna because there are flowers all over Mary's cape. My mother-in-law had one just like it and my mother still has a softly tinted colored version of the same figurine of which I have fond childhood memories. It's such a tender depiction of Mary and the child Jesus, with Jesus's hand resting on Mary's cheek as she shows him a flower with a cute little bird looking on. If you do a search for Hummel Flower Madonna, you'll find a bunch of them on various collectibles websites. There are some on eBay right now that aren't too terribly expensive.

Anonymous said...

Oooo, thanks Mary!