UNBORN WORD of the day


Visitation panel St. James Altarpiece 1430 National Gallery of Prague (Convent of St. Agnes of Bohemia) Prague Czech Republic
December 15, 2012, 10:03 am
Filed under: Advent, Incarnation, Mother of the Lord, Unborn Jesus

AROUND THE WORLD AND THROUGH THE CENTURIES WITH THE UNBORN CHRIST CHILD

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National Gallery of Prague  (Convent of St. Agnes of Bohemia)

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St. James Altarpiece ( a few panels)

St. James Altarpiece Scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary and St. James the Great

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Visitation panel St. James Altarpiece

An altarpiece is a picture or relief representing a religious subject and suspended in a frame behind the altar of a church. The altarpiece is often made up of two or more separate panels created using a technique known as panel painting. It is then called a diptych, triptych or polyptych for two, three, and multiple panels respectively.

“We can feel the rush of warmth and kindness, the sudden urgency of love that sent that girl hurrying over the hills. ‘Those days’ in which she rose on that impulse were the days in which Christ was being formed in her, the impulse was His impulse.” Caryll Houselander  The Reed of God



Heimsuchung von Maria und Elisabeth (the “Visitation”) 1460, Kremsmünster Abbey, Kremsmünster, Upper Austria
December 14, 2012, 12:22 am
Filed under: Advent, Mother of the Lord, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

AROUND THE WORLD AND THROUGH THE CENTURIES WITH THE UNBORN CHRIST CHILD

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Kremsmünster Abbey

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Heimsuchung von Maria und Elisabeth (Mary and Elisabeth Meeting)

In Christian art Mary’s pregnancy was broached not only in scenes with Jesus as an unborn child but also in pictures of the virgin mother by herself or in association with the Eucharist. Depending on how realistic or symbolic the picture was meant to be, her pregnancy was made evident as a rounded belly, by showing the figure of a child, or by having “IHS” marked on Mary’s stomach.

The original portrayal of this theme was the veneration with which, during her pregnancy, Elisabeth greeted Mary: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (Luke 1,42) This Bible text became widespread due to the “Ave Maria” (Hail Mary) which became part of the Advent liturgy in the 7th and 8th centuries and as of the 13th century had become one of the most important Christian prayers. In medieval times portrayals of Mary and Elisabeth meeting (the “Visitation”) became very common. From around the year 1300 the children were shown in front of their mothers’ bellies as can be seen in this painting from Kremsmünster (around 1460).

“John was ‘filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb’ by Christ himself, whom the Virgin Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit. Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth thus became a visit from God to his people.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, Article 8, 717.



Verkündigung Die Ungeborenen Jesus Artist: Friedrich Herlin 1462, Stadtmuseum Nördlingen Germany
December 13, 2012, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Advent, Mother of the Lord, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

AROUND THE WORLD AND THROUGH THE CENTURIES WITH THE UNBORN CHRIST CHILD

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Stadtmuseum – Nördlingen,Germany

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Flügel des Hochaltars aus St. Georg (Wing of the high altar of St. George) Full Altar wing

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Verkündigung Die Ungeborenen Jesus (detail of Altar wing)

The wings of the high altar of St. George’s Church (1462) 1462 were a complex altarpiece created by Friedrich Herlin for the Church of St. George, where he acted not only as painter of the panels, but also as an entrepreneur who co-ordinated the other artisans and carpenters.  This Visitation detail show another common way unborn Jesus and John were recognized in Visitation paintings of this period. Light is emanating from the wombs of the two mothers.

When the Angel appeared to Zachariah – he made a number of predictions about John the Baptist before his conception. One was “He shall be filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother s womb” (Luke 1: 15) Here is what one writer says about the fulfillment of this Angelic pronouncement.

“Six months later, Elizabeth who had been waiting in solitude and silence for God to fulfil His designs, received a visit from the Mother of God, and the Precursor and the Messias Who was to come were brought into close contact. We cannot doubt that it was at that moment when, as Elizabeth said “the infant in my womb leaped for joy”, that John was “filled with the Holy Ghost”. Thus God cleansed His Precursor before his birth from the stain of original sin, again showing us that those who are to prepare for the Coming of His Son must be distinguished by their purity.” Mother St. Paul, Ortus Christi, p. 35.



Visitation on Cloth (Detail of Altar cloth) 1410, Museum of Applied Arts, Frankfort, Germany
December 12, 2012, 7:23 pm
Filed under: Advent, Incarnation, Mother of the Lord, Unborn Jesus

AROUND THE WORLD AND THROUGH THE CENTURIES WITH THE UNBORN CHRIST CHILD

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Museum of Applied Arts-Frankfort, Germany

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Antependium, or altar cloth hanging of tapestry woven in colored wools (Full Tapestry)

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Visitation – Detail from Frontal – German – wool, linen and silk

An antependium (Latin: “to hang before”), more commonly known as a hanging cloth, or, when speaking specifically of the hanging for the altar, an altar frontal (Latin: pallium altaris), is a decorative piece of material that can adorn a Christian altar, lectern, pulpit, or table. Specifically, an antependium hangs down in front of whatever it covers, and is to be distinguished from the altar linens which are used in the service of the Eucharist, and an altar cloth which covers the top of the altar.

“One of the most beautiful moments in history was that when pregnancy met pregnancy when child bearers became the first heralds of the King of Kings.” Archbishop Fulton Sheen, The World’s First Love.

“Now Elizabeth didn’t recognize what was in Mary’s womb as a “fetus.” No One less than God the Holy Spirit gave Elizabeth the gift to recognize that what was alive in her cousin’s womb, was already a person. And that person was her Lord (God).”  Charles Hoffman, The Holy Rosary Rich in Jewish Tradition



OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE AND UNBORN JESUS
December 11, 2012, 9:47 pm
Filed under: Advent, Mother of the Lord, Unborn Jesus

AROUND THE WORLD AND THROUGH THE CENTURIES WITH THE UNBORN CHRIST CHILD

One of the best known representations of Mary’s pregnancy is the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  This image is in the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

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It is commonly thought that Our Lady is pregnant in this miraculous image given to Juan Diego in December, 1531.

Miguel Sanchez, the author of the 1648 tract Imagen de la Virgen María, described her (Our Lady of Guadalupe) as the Woman of the Apocalypse from the New Testament’s Revelation 12:1-2 “clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child…

We also know she was with child in this image because she wears a black belt which was the Aztec Maternity Belt.

Father Frank Pavone points out that “In the image, Our Lady is pregnant, carrying the Son of God in her womb. Her head is bowed in homage, indicating that she is not the Goddess, but rather the one who bears and at the same time worships the one true God.” Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Pro-life Movement

Another indication that it has been widely held that the Guadalupe image was of Mary pregnant is the Anonymous Cuzqueño 18th century painting, Mary Immaculate with the Child Jesus in the womb. Private Collection, Lima, Peru. This work is included in “Colonial Art Book Iconography” by Hector Schenone. The image has the unborn Christ child included in an image that is reminiscent of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

18th century Mary Immaculate Jesus in womb



Virgin of Quinau with Unborn Christ 1300,Trutzhain-Quinauer pilgrimage shrine, Trutzhain,Germany
December 10, 2012, 9:05 pm
Filed under: Advent, Mother of the Lord, Unborn Jesus

AROUND THE WORLD AND THROUGH THE CENTURIES WITH THE UNBORN CHRIST CHILD

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Trutzhain-Quinauer pilgrimage Shrine

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Virgin of Quinau with Unborn Christ

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St. Mariahilf (St. Mary Our Help Parish), Trutzhain,Germany

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The Trutzhain Madonna – ‘Mater gravida’. She is the ‘pregnant Madonna’ with the infant Jesus under her heart

This was a new version Of theQuinauer Madonna. 1987 artist: Uhrissen Anton

July 2, the Feast of the Visitation is the feast day of the sanctuary in the lower Quinau. It is a time for the pilgrims to honor the miraculous Virgin of Quinau. During  the pilgrimage season pilgrims come daily  in fancy dress from many places in the region to honor the Mother of God.

History of Quinau: The legend of the origin of the statue is as follows: A boy named Joseph kept sheep for his master on the spot where the church now stands. Once, the normally pious boy cursed while taking care of  the cattle. Then came a voice: “Joseph, cease your anger and cursing, you insult my son, Jesus”.  Startled, Joseph turned his face in the direction from which the voice came and he saw the statue of Mary in a rocky niche . The boy fell to his knees and begged for forgiveness. Then he built a little chapel with stones and shrubs around the statue and performed his devotions there every day.

He concealed his experience for a long time. Then the boy became ill. During his illness, he betrayed his experience while delirious. When he awoke they questioned him and discovered little by little the whole story. The boy expressed the desire to be carried up the mountain to image of the Virgin. This took place on September 4, 1342 . The farmer who employed the boy took the image of Mary to his home. But the next day the statue was gone.  Everyone in his household, denied taking the statue.  After a long search they found the statue again at the previous location. The farmer took it back home and the event repeated itself. A few villagers had now heard of these events.   They wanted to build a chapel in the village. But one day the building material disappeared. It had miraculously been taken to the top of the hill. People saw it as a sign from God and so with the permission of the landowner, Count von Lobkowitz Gallus Babelus, the chapel was built on the mountain top at the apparition site.  St. Mariahilf  a newer Chruch in Trutzhain has a modern version of the statue.

“How could he have shown his mercy more clearly than by taking on himself our condition? For our sake the Word of God became as grass….The incarnation teaches us how much God cares for us and what he thinks and feels about us…The smaller he became through his human nature the greater was his goodness; the more he lowered himself for me, the dearer he is to me.”   St. Bernard, O. Cist., Sermo 1, in Ephiphania Domini, 1 2: PL 133.



Annunciation by Lorezo Venzian 1371,Gallerie dell’Accademia Venice, Italy
December 9, 2012, 2:09 pm
Filed under: Advent, Incarnation, Mother of the Lord, Unborn Jesus

AROUND THE WORLD AND THROUGH THE CENTURIES WITH THE UNBORN CHRIST CHILD

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Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice, Italy

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Annunciation with Saints by Lorezo Venzian

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Annunciation by Lorezo Venzian (detail)

The Accademia fine Art Gallery of Venice, is one of the most important Italian museums. This painting, signed and dated in 1371, is the central panel of a polyptych. Here we can see clearly how Lorenzo Veneziano, in his mature work moved increasingly towards the musical expressiveness of colour shot through with Gothic accents.

The figure of the Virgin is sitting with her hands crossed prayerfully listening to the message of the angel. The angel is kneeling before her, his right hand raised and his wings pointing toward the sky where the Eternal Father appears, as a crowning figure releasing the dove with the unborn Christ Child.

But the knowledge and love of our Divine Redeemer, of which we were the object from the first moment of His Incarnation, exceed all that the human intellect can hope to grasp. For hardly was He conceived in the womb of the Mother of God, when He began to enjoy the Beatific Vision, and in that vision all the members of His Mystical Body were continually and unceasingly present to Him, and He embraced them with His redeeming love.    Pope Pius XII,  Mystici Corporis (On the Mystical Body of Christ) #75.



Unborn John the Baptist Bows Before Unborn Jesus, 14th Century, Timios Stavros Church, Pelendri Cyprus
December 7, 2012, 7:59 pm
Filed under: Advent, Incarnation, Mother of the Lord, Unborn Jesus | Tags: , ,

AROUND THE WORLD AND THROUGH THE CENTURIES WITH THE UNBORN CHRIST CHILD

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Timios Stavros Church

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Timios Stavros Church Wall Painting (Full)

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Unborn John the Baptist Bows Before Unborn Jesus   Church Wall Painting (detail)

In the central part of Cyprus, in the mountains of the Troodos range, some of the most important monuments of the history of Byzantine painting have survived. These are painted churches which have preserved to this day brilliant examples of various trends of Byzantine and post-Byzantine monumental art, from the 11th to the 19th century. The church of Timios Stavros is situated in a central area of the Troodos mountain range, at the south end of the village of Pelendri.

The original church was destroyed under unknown circumstances. Only the apse survived, which was incorporated in a new church of the same type, built at the end of the 13th or the beginning of the 14th century. The main part of the church of Timios Stavros was decorated during the second half of the 14th century. At least two artists belonging to the same workshop were involved, together with their students. Many donors contributed towards this decoration complex. From these wall-paintings we can distinguish a group which follows the Palaiologan style developed in Constantinople during the 14th century.

“God has become a child, and so he wants first to be known and adored by a child…Thus the Infant-God is recognized and manifested, not by and angel, but by a child. So his first prophet is a child, just as shortly his first martyrs will be children.” Cardinal Bérulle (1575 -1629)

“I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will.” Lk.10.21



The Visitation 1310, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
December 6, 2012, 12:31 am
Filed under: Advent, Pro-life, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

AROUND THE WORLD AND THROUGH THE CENTURIES WITH THE UNBORN CHRIST CHILD

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

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The Visitation This artwork is currently on display in Gallery 304

Soon after the Virgin Mary learned of her miraculous conception of Jesus, she visited her kinswoman Elizabeth, who was also expecting a child, John the Baptist. This representation of their joyous meeting comes from the Dominican convent of Katharinenthal, in the Lake Constance region of present-day Switzerland.

Carved of walnut, with the original paint and gilding almost completely preserved, the figures of Mary and Elizabeth are each inset with crystal-covered cavities through which images of their infants may originally have been seen. The representation of the Visitation incorporating images of the unborn Christ and John the Baptist, found with some frequency in contemporary works from German-speaking lands, emphasizes the moment when, according to “The Golden Legend,” Saint John, being unable “to manifest his joy with his tongue,” leapt “with joy in his mother’s womb.” The Virgin tenderly places her hand on Elizabeth’s shoulder, while her cousin raises her arm to her breast in reference to her declaration, “Who am I, that the mother of the Lord should visit me?” (Luke 1:43).

Bishop Austin Vaughn (1927-2000), formerly Auxiliary Bishop of New York, who himself was arrested a number of times for prayerfully protesting in front of abortion facilities once wrote  in an article entitled The Catholic Duty to Be Pro – Life:  “It is not an accident, I think, that in the scriptures the first person, after Mary, who adored Jesus when He came into the world was St. John the Baptist….The second person who ever worshipped Jesus, after Mary, was an unborn baby, and I think God made it that way to tell us in our day and age the worth and importance of every individual right from the very beginning of life”.



Annunciation by Lorezo Venzian 1371,Gallerie dell’Accademia Venice, Italy
December 5, 2012, 11:48 pm
Filed under: Advent, Incarnation, Mother of the Lord, Unborn Jesus

AROUND THE WORLD AND THROUGH THE CENTURIES WITH THE UNBORN CHRIST CHILD

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Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice, Italy

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Annunciation with Saints by Lorezo Venzian

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Annunciation by Lorezo Venzian (detail)

The Accademia fine Art Gallery of Venice, is one of the most important Italian museums. This painting, signed and dated in 1371, is the central panel of a polyptych. Here we can see clearly how Lorenzo Veneziano, in his mature work moved increasingly towards the musical expressiveness of colour shot through with Gothic accents.

The figure of the Virgin is sitting with her hands crossed prayerfully listening to the message of the angel. The angel is kneeling before her, his right hand raised and his wings pointing toward the sky where the Eternal Father appears, as a crowning figure releasing the dove with the unborn Christ Child.

 But the knowledge and love of our Divine Redeemer, of which we were the object from the first moment of His Incarnation, exceed all that the human intellect can hope to grasp. For hardly was He conceived in the womb of the Mother of God, when He began to enjoy the Beatific Vision, and in that vision all the members of His Mystical Body were continually and unceasingly present to Him, and He embraced them with His redeeming love.    Pope Pius XII,  Mystici Corporis (On the Mystical Body of Christ) #75.



Maria Heimsuchung (The Visitation) 1210, Chapel of St. Leonard Nauders Austria

AROUND THE WORLD AND THROUGH THE CENTURIES WITH THE UNBORN CHRIST CHILD

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Chapel of St. Leonard Nauders Austria

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Maria Heimsuchung – One of Three  Frescoes found in the Chapel of St. Leonard

The wall paintings in the Chapel of St. Leonard are among the most important Romanesque frescoes discoveries that have been made in North Tyrol ever. Their rediscovery goes back to 1914. Although the paintings are not completely preserved, they are among the earliest frescoes of North Tyrol and thus are important in Austria’s art history.  The latest research link these frescos to benchmark examples in South Tyrol and Graubünden and assume that the frescoes were created by 1210.

“Truly He is in haste to be about His Father’s business. Truly He is an impatient conqueror, to be thus early beginning His conquests, and laying the foundations of His world wide empire. He can not bear to be in the world for even so short a while, but sin shall feel the weight of His unborn arm…..His first mission and ministry was in the womb, and the babe unborn the first conquest of His divine apostolate…..and the Unborn Child destroys the sin and abolishes the curse of the unborn child.”   Frederick W. Faber, D.D., The Blessed Sacrament (Baltimore, MD: John Murphy Company, circa 1855), 162 163.

 



Annunciation of Ustyug 1119-1130, The Tretyakov Gallery Moscow, Russia
December 3, 2012, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Advent, Incarnation, Mother of the Lord, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

AROUND THE WORLD AND THROUGH THE CENTURIES WITH THE UNBORN CHRIST CHILD

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The Tretyakov Gallery

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One of the earliest images of Christ in the womb is the Annunciation of Ustyug

The Annunciation of Ustyug gained its name due to the legend that Saint Procopius of Ustyug predicted the fall of  a meteorite and other calamities near the town of Veliky Ustyug. He tried to convince the citizens to confess their sins and pray for the city to be saved. They did not believe him and only at the last minute, when the storm had already started, escaped to the church and started to pray before the icon and were saved.

The icon depicts Christ Emmanuel standing In the womb of the Virgin, giving a blessing with his right hand. On the left – the archangel Gabriel, greets the Virgin Mary and is blessing her. At the top of the center, in a blue semi-circle of the sky with gold stars the Father is portrayed with a blue halo of glory. He sits on a red throne, at the foot of which are red cherubim, and above on the sides – red and gold Seraphim. The Father holds a scroll in his left hand, and His right hand blesses Mary.

The Ustyug Annunciation in its iconography has its roots in Eastern Christian art. The point of this type of art is to explain the supernatural Conception – Incarnation of the deity. Therefore, in Russia, the Virgin with the Christ child depicted near her heart is sometimes called Our Lady of the Incarnation.

“For you must know that the sublime work of the Incarnation was the work of the whole Trinity, although it was only the Person of the Son of God who became incarnate. It was as if one who put on a tunic were helped by two standing on either side of him who held the tunic in their hands….For although the Holy Trinity is every where, nevertheless you must think of It in your meditation as being here in a very special manner, by reason of the great and unique work which is being done.”   St. Bonaventure, Meditations On The Life Of Christ, trans. Sister M. Emmanuel, O.S.B. (St. Louis, MO: B. Herder Book Co., 1934), 16.



ANOTHER ADVENT TRADITION YOU MAY NOT HAVE HEARD ABOUT – Iglesia de San Martín de Tours de Sevilla
December 2, 2012, 11:38 am
Filed under: Advent, Christmas, How are we to honor Unborn Jesus, Incarnation, Pro-life

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Our Lady of Hope, is renowned for her beauty. The image is from the second half of the 16th century but later restorations (one by Castillo Lastrucci), added to it‘s beauty and unmistakable Sevillian style. The Virgin wears a green coat with sterling silver lining, highlighting her magnificent crown. All year – except Advent – Mary holds the infant Jesus with her left hand and arm.

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Below the statue (see above photos), in front of the basket appears an oval  “O” iconographic detail of the Unborn Christ Child (reminiscent of the Advent “O” antiphons). 

During Advent, the oval with the Unborn Christ is placed upon the Virgin, in front of her womb. (The infant Jesus is taken down from Mary’s left hand during Advent and placed in an ornate casing.) See photos below.

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Then, on Christmas day the unborn Christ oval is returned to its place below the statue and the infant Jesus returned to Mary’s hand. These rituals give a unique charm to this statue and the Incarnation event.

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Iglesia de San Martín de Tours de Sevilla

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An Advent Tradition you may not have heard about.
November 20, 2012, 11:35 pm
Filed under: Advent, Christmas, How are we to honor Unborn Jesus, Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

Over the last number of years, we have found over 100 images of Christ in Mary’s womb from around the world. Recently, we discovered that 2 of these images are part of an Advent Tradition that surprised us. The St. Phillip Neri Institute in Berlin has a wonderful statue that a friend of theirs carved for them. It is a copy of a miraculous statue of “Maria Gravida”  that is in the Church of Maria Hilf Assumptio in Malta, Austria. This miraculous statue dates from around the 1400’s.

Maria Gravida (1400) Malta, Austria

Below are a few views of the statue of Maria Gravida at St. Phillip Neri Institute in Germany

 Maria Gravida

During Advent this Maria Gravida statue is placed on a pedestal in front of a blue curtain – behind the curtain is a Nativity scene. At Midnight on Christmas eve, the statue of Mary Pregnant is taken off the pedestal and the Nativity scene is unveiled.

Maria Gravida, December 24, Christmas Eve day

Nativity Scene, Christmas Eve Midnight

We have also discovered a similar tradition for the statue of Our Lady of Divine Hope in the Iglesia de San Martín Sevilla in Spain which we will highlight in a future post.



JESUS AND HIS MOTHER HAD 3 CONVERSATIONS RECORDED IN THE GOSPELS
October 7, 2012, 7:11 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Mary

Jesus among the Doctors – Duccio di Buoninsegna

When Jesus was 12 years old he and His parents went to Jerusalem for Passover. When they began their return trip to Nazareth Jesus and His parents became separated. Finally Mary and Joseph found Him in the temple; “they were astonished; and his mother said to him…”

1st Conversation (Luke 2.48-51)

Mary: “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.”

Jesus: “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Mary was distraught. But Jesus had the last word in this brief exchange. Then they left together; “And he went down with them…” Apparently they both took the conversation to heart: Jesus “was obedient to them”, and “his mother kept all these things in her heart.”

Wedding at Cana – Duccio di Buoninsegna

About 18 years later at the outset of our Lord’s public ministry they had another conversation in Cana at a wedding feast. The account starts out; “On the third day….” This is interesting because the prior conversation considered above was introduced as follows: “After three days they found him…” The wedding feast becomes remarkable because they ran out of wine, and the conversation is initiated out of concern for the newly married couple.

2nd Conversation (John 2.3-8)

Mary: “They have no wine.”

Jesus: “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”

Did Mary learn a lesson from the last conversation? She now limits herself to a mere four words. Jesus calls her “woman”; the same title that Eve was given by Adam (Gen 2.23). And again Jesus gets the last word. Or does He? They now both turn away from each other and address the servants (who represent the Church)….

Mary: “Do whatever he tells you.”

Jesus: “Fill the jars with water…..Now draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast.”

Remember those later miracles when Jesus instructs individuals to go to the Priest so that the healing can be officially ‘verified’? Similarly, Jesus sends the servants to the steward, and as John points out, this was “the first of his signs”. Apparently, His hour had arrived – it coincided with a marriage ceremony and prefigured His own relationship to His Bride, the Church. With four words Mary becomes a match-maker. And once again, mother and son leave together; “After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and…..” He is going out on His own, with His disciples, but we see Mary and Jesus in sync, working together, in unison.

All three conversations are associated with a feast day celebration; the first and third with Passover. When Jesus is on the cross, He sees His mother and ‘the disciple whom he loved’ standing near. This time, Mary – who is again distraught – is actually silent, but we might say that figuratively – or rather mystically – she “speaks” to her son from her heart….. perhaps through her eyes…. The scene unfolds with our Lord’s eyes, or gaze; “When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother……”

3rd Conversation (Jn 19.26-27)

Mary: …………..

Jesus: “Woman, behold, your son!”

Jesus again calls her “woman”; this time it certainly seems to be like a title, because it takes on the semblance of a “last will and testament”. And Jesus has the last word. From the cross, now close to death, He draws the Church into His personal conversation with His mother. “Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’” In their ‘2nd conversation’ it was Mary who drew the Church into the conversation with her son. This time Jesus draws the Church into the conversation. The account ends with these words: “And from that hour the disciple took her (Mary) to his own home.” So Mary (“woman”) becomes Mother to the Church, as Eve (“woman”) was “the mother of all living” (Gen 3.20).

Jesus dies, and according to tradition, He is placed in His mother’s arms, so once again they ‘leave’ together at the conclusion of the conversation. Unlike the prior two conversations, that were preceded by ‘three days’, this conversation signals the beginning of the ‘three days’ until His resurrection.

But in a way, Christ’s entire life was like an intimate conversation with humanity: “And the Word became flesh…” within Mary’s womb. As the Word of God, Jesus Christ had been conversing with His Mother from that very first day, and their conversation continues even now, and as the Church, we too are invited to join in – through prayer and love – as servants, as beloved disciples. We are especially invited to join in the ‘dialogue of the Church with her Lord’ in the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass which recalls Passover, and in all the other sacraments such as Holy Matrimony.



St. Theresa of the Child Jesus – Feast Day Oct. 1
September 22, 2012, 11:34 pm
Filed under: Incarnation, Saints, Unborn Jesus

 “I put myself on the side of childhood….I am, above all, on the side of the Infant God….”

Francois Mauriac
The Son of Man

 “…. I wondered what name I would be given in Carmel.
I knew there was a Sister Therese of Jesus; however, my
beautiful name of Therese could not be taken away from
me. All of a sudden, I thought of Little Jesus whom I
loved so much, and I said: ‘Oh! how happy I would be if
they called me Therese of the Child Jesus!’”

St. Therese of Lisieux,
Doctor of the Church
Story of a Soul   

On several occasions Christ counseled us to have a childlike faith, even going so far as to placing a child in front of His disciples, so that His teaching would have the sacred and personal imprint of a living child.

As it turned out, it was but a small ‘baby step’ for many saints, to move from childlike faith to devotion to the Christ Child. Examples abound, but for the sake of brevity, let’s mention three saints: Francis of Assisi (so drawn to the newborn baby Jesus, that he created a living nativity scene to supplement his personal devotion), Anthony of Padua (who held the Child Jesus in his arms) and Therese of the Child Jesus (“I cannot fear a God who made himself so small for me!”[LT 266])

The personal devotions of holy Christians to the Christ Child have multiplied a hundredfold to engulf Catholic communities and cultures throughout the world. For the purposes of this discussion, we take it as a given fact that devotion to the Christ Child is tenderly woven into the devotional fabric of the Church, that it is to be encouraged (while being in conformity “to the doctrine, legal discipline and norms of the Church”) and that each individual Christian can enter into it with confidence.

Which leads us to the Unborn Christ Child. The devotional step from adoring Christ lying in a manger, to contemplating Him lying in His mother’s womb is intellectually tiny, even though it may challenge the imagination slightly…

But why bother ourselves with a study of the Unborn Christ Child? John Paul II explains: “The conception and birth of Jesus Christ are in fact the greatest work accomplished by the Holy Spirit in the history of creation and salvation: the supreme grace – ‘the grace of union,’ source of every other grace, as St. Thomas explains.”  The nine month continuum, from Christ’s conception to His birth, is an exceptional time of grace for the world and humanity – of utmost significance to the Church generally, and to expecting mothers and unborn babies particularly.

Maria gravida – Institute of St. Philip Neri in Berlin



AUGUST 22 – THE QUEENSHIP OF MARY FEAST DAY
August 25, 2012, 9:45 am
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Evangelium Vitae, Mary

Maria Gravida

For me personally, The Queenship of Mary is one of my favorite feast days of the 365 day Liturgical Year. I also like watching the Olympics. Let me explain.

Greece is the birthplace of the Olympics. Their origins go back before the time of Christ, and St. Paul, an educated Roman citizen knew that. So when Paul was writing to the Greek Christians in Corinth about the challenge of Christian living he felt it appropriate to speak about athletic competition:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Well, I do not run aimlessly… (I Cor 9.24-26)

Years later, near the end of his life in a letter to Timothy, he stays with his athletic analogy, but the wreath is now a crown, and there is no longer just one winner:

“An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules…… I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” ( II Tim 2.5, 4.7-8) Who loved the Lord’s “appearing” more than his mother? Like Paul she “fought the good fight…finished the race…kept the faith”!

The early Church knew very well that the Christian faith was demanding:

“Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us…” (Heb 12.1)

“Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1.12)

“And when the chief Shepherd is manifested you will obtain the unfading crown of glory.” (I Pet 5.4)

The crown awaiting each Christian is “imperishable”, a “crown of righteousness”, a “crown of life”, an “unfading crown of glory”. Mary’s crown is all this and more: “a crown of twelve stars…” (Rev 12.1). A tradition of Saints and scholars (including John Paul II; The Gospel of Life, #104) tells us it is Mary who is crowned in Revelations 12.

But every Christian crown will be gained by virtue of the Kingship of Jesus Christ. “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?” the three wise men asked? What charge did Pilate bring against Jesus and have inscribed on the cross? “This is Jesus the King of the Jews.” The archangel Gabriel spoke to Mary about the kingship of her son. In the Book of Revelations we find references to Christ as King, and to His reign. Many Christians mistakenly think that Jesus is a king only in a symbolic sense, since he is not a political figure and we have evolved beyond monarchies. The Kingship of Jesus Christ is a spiritual truth which enlightens, a wonderful reality which we will enjoy in heaven.

We know a Queen through her ancestry and relationships, and we recognize her by her crown. As the Mother of Jesus Christ, Mary comes to her queenship supernaturally by the Will of God; as Mother. The “race” she ran is unparalleled in all human experience, and she excelled in every respect. For a succinct biblical presentation of her life see; Litany in Honor of Mary the First Christian.