Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lesser Known Depictions of Mary

Most people have seen a Madonna and Child, Pieta, or a depiction of the Nativity. But have you seen Mary clubbing a demon or squirting her breast milk at a saint?

I'm no art expert, but over the last few years I've come across a number of very interesting depictions of Mary that I had never seen before, and that I suspect many people have never seen before. These might give you a different perspective of our Blessed Mother.

The Lactation of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

St Bernard of Clairvaux was a 12th century monk and is revered today as both saint and doctor of the Church. Apparently, later in his life he was suffering for an eye ailment and the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him and squirted to some breast milk at him (depending on the depiction, either in his face or mouth) which immediately healed him. True or not, this scene has been depicted by many artists.

The Knitting Madonna

Scripture says that Jesus' tunic was seamless (John 19.23-24). In the medieval period, several artists depicted the Blessed Virgin Mary knitting together Jesus' seamless tunic.

Exterminatrix of Heresy

Jesus gave us Mary to be our spiritual mother (John 19.26-27). She is also the fulfillment of the Woman in Genesis, of whom God made the enemy of the serpent (Genesis 3.15). As Christ's servant, she does all she can to protect Christ's faithful from the evil one.

Christ Taking Leave of His Mother

In the 15th and 16th century, artists in Germany started painting an imagined scene in which Jesus says goodbye to his mother before his final trip to Jerusalem for his passion. (more)

Mary as Depicted as Different Races

Most of the Marian art that most people have seen is European and reflects European culture and appearances. The most notable exception is the most famous Virgin of Guadalupe which depicts Mary as a mestizo, or Aztec/Spanish mix. You can now find art depicting Mary with all sorts of appearances.

Mary as a Child

According to the tradition, Mary was raised by her parents St Anne and St Joachim. She was not only conceived without Original Sin but also, full of God's grace, remained sinless. What was her childhood like? We don't know much, but many artists have chosen to depict it for us.

The Mother and Grandmother of Jesus

Some artists have depicted the young mother Mary watching the child Jesus with St Anne, her own mother and thus grandmother of Jesus.


  1. This was very interesting, thank you!

  2. I really love the Asian depiction of Mary and Jesus -- thank you so much!

  3. I don't follow the meaning of the last pic. Who is the central image?

    1. Hey Harry, thanks for checking out the blog. On the very last pick on the bottom right, I believe the people depicted are Anne (the biggest), Mary (the middle), and Christ (the smallest). God bless!

  4. A few have a kind of trinity within