Friday, December 5, 2008

Jesus grew in Mary's womb and was fed at Mary's breasts

A week ago I was in the church of St Martinus, in Sint-Martens-Bodegem, for the first time ever. I didn't have a camera with me, or I would have snapped a shot of the statue of a visibly pregnant Mary that stood before the altar. By chance there have been news reports about another such statue (it must be said, much more visibly pregnant) in America. And reading the report just linked to (following a link from this blog) I was struck (and it seems I was not the only one so struck) by the claim that representations of a pregnant or breastfeeding Mary were uncommon in art because considered undignified. (This is perhaps why there are so few images of Jesus being born in a stable or nailed to a cross?)

If such representations really are uncommon, I have been fortunate enough to see a disproportionate number. Not so very far from here is the miraculous statue of Our Lady of Halle, whose miracles were written up by none less than Neo-Stoic philosopher Justus Lipsius. The church is one of the very few in the Low Countries to retain anything of its medieval interior, thanks to the Virgin's saving it from the Calvinist forces who attempted to surprise the town in 1580.

And on wikimedia commons: the best such painting imaginable:

This is without even considering representations of pregnancy which "peep", such as this or this...


Deidre said...

The parish church of St.-Jan Baptist in Schriek also has a pregnant Mary during advent.

Paul said...

Hm. I wonder if it's a trend? It hasn't caught on in this parish yet, at any rate.

Michele said...

I just found this blog because I was looking for pictures of Mary pregnant. Do you know who the artist is of the painting you linked to.

We have a blog and website dedicated to honoring the Unborn Christ Child. and

God bless

Paul said...

Thanks for the link. I'm sorry, I don't know who the artist is, only that the painting is in the church of St Catherine of Alexandria in Bergamo (if I've read the website correctly). I had a quick look to see whether I could find the artist's name, and did come across this blog post giving a number of pictures of "Our Lady in Expectation".

Michele said...

Thanks for the link, Paul. It is funny but after I wrote the comment, I looked a little further and found two great websites with older paintings and statues of Mary Pregnant. Now you have given me another. I really appreciate your effort.

In the past, I have mostly found Visitation paintings with Unborn Jesus and John. There was actually a type of visitation religious painting categorized as 'type foetus'.

As you can tell from our website and post - these types of paintings etc. are of interest to us.

About parishes having statues of Mary pregnant - there is one in the next town over from us and another one near Riverside California that I know of - I think because of abortion, there is a some interest in these statues. Pro-life groups in these parishes were interested in highlighting that Jesus was an unborn baby.