The Virgin Mary: The Different Images
She is known by many names and depictions--she is the Virgin Mary, Mother of God. Let us take a look at the ways she has revealed herself to us, and the different interpretations of her through centuries of Christian art, and the significances of each.
Our Lady of Guadalupe
This is Mary’s miraculous appearance on the tilma of Juan Diego in 16th Century Mexico. The apparition is full of symbols: recalling the woman in Revelation 12 and containing imagery relevant to the native Aztecs of the area, calling for their conversion to the faith. The image can still be viewed in the Basilica in Mexico City.
Our Lady of Lourdes
Here we see Mary standing in a grotto (e.g., cave) as she appeared near Lourdes, France, in the 19th Century. St. Bernadette described Our Lady as carrying a Rosary and wearing all white, except for the blue sash around her waist and gold roses on her feet. The water from the spring that St. Bernadette was commanded to dig is said to have curative properties.
Our Lady of Fatima
As witnessed by Lucia in the early part of the 20th Century, Our Lady revealed herself brighter than the sun, emitting beams of light. She was dressed in a pristine white mantle lined with gold; her Rosary had beads that were like stars and a crucifix of the most radiant gem. In this apparition, Our Lady encouraged the praying of the Rosary to bring world peace.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel
This is the title given to Mary as the patroness of the Carmelites. She is dressed in the brown habit of the Order, holding the Carmelite scapular in her hand. Tradition has it that she gave the scapular to St. Simon Stock in the 13th Century, with a promise that whoever dies wearing it will be spared.
Immaculate Heart of Mary
The Virgin Mary is shown pointing to her heart, visible outside, in this devotional title. The heart is encircled with flowers, with a flame glowing from it. It is a testament to her love--for her God, her devotion to her Son, and for all of us.
Madonna and Child
In these depictions, Mary is carrying the infant Jesus, reminding us of her importance to our Lord as His mother. She gave birth to Him, nourished Him, raised Him, and remained with Him all the way to His crucifixion.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help
This is the name given to Mary as seen in the Byzantine icon. It is important to note in this image that Our Lady is pointing to the infant Jesus, showing that her purpose is to serve Him. Floating behind them are the Archangels Michael, carrying a lance and sponge, and Gabriel, carrying a cross and nails--reminding us of the crucifixion.
This could refer to the statue by Michelangelo in St. Peter's Basilica, or any depiction showing Our Lady cradling the dead body of Jesus. This image portrays the sorrow Mary felt as the mother of our Lord, and a testament of her devotion to Him, even until His death.
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