Mary’s day – 15 August 2022
On her feast day, a painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Sit with her while. Don’t speak, but just look at her, at her face – her eyes. What do you see?
Mary is young here, yet she is already marked as holy, a radiant light around her. Is she pregnant, carrying the Light of the World? Her clothes are Spanish style, a white head covering with a blue veil. These are her colours.
She is looking at you, yet past you. She is here in this moment, but at the same time is looking ahead. What does she contemplate? So many words will be spoken to her (‘Do not be afraid, Mary’, ‘A sword will pierce your own soul too’), many more spoken about her. Does she understand at this moment, in the here and now, all that will come from the giving of her flesh, from which the Son of God was made? Can she see the end here at the beginning?
The longer we consider her, the more confident and sure she appears. From this strength and clarity she will sing her song – which we ourselves will sing, everyday.
The painting is by El Greco (1594-1604). He painted the virgin in this style many times, but this might have been his first attempt. In other versions there is less ambiguity and less strength in her face, she is more serene.
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.”
A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pangs, in the agony of giving birth. Then another portent appeared in heaven: a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born. And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne; 6and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, so that there she can be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.
Of one that is so fair and bright
Velut maris stella
Brighter than the day is light
Parens et puella
I cry to thee, thou see to me
Lady, pray thy Son for me
That I may come to thee
All this world was forlorn
Till our Lord was y-born
De te genetrice
With ave it went away
Darkest night, and comes the day
The well springeth out of thee
Lady, flow’r of everything
Rosa sine spina
Thou bare Jesu, Heaven’s King
Of all thou bear’st the prize
Lady, queen of paradise
Maid mild, mother
Hymn to the Virgin
Listen to this here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Z0O8X26UIU