Online Exhibits

Marian Images: One Woman, Many Incarnations

June 04, 2008

View the Image Slideshow for Marian Images: One Woman, Many Incarnations (Opens a new window).


Our Lady of GuadalupeDevotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary has traditionally been extremely strong in my native country of Belgium. Even today, you would be hard pressed to find a neighborhood without a chapel dedicated to Mary. Some of these chapels are large and can accommodate several people. Others are very small and hang on the outside wall of a home.

During the months of May and October, these shrines are cleaned up and decorated with extra flowers. Each day residents of the different neighborhoods would gather at their Marian shrine to pray the Rosary. As a child, I was struck by the statues or paintings of Mary in these shrines. I found it very curious that there were so many different representations of the same woman. In my small hometown, one could find representations of Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Banneux; Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception; Our Lady of Sorrows; Our Lady of Montserrat; and many others.

Our LAdy of AfricaSince my early amazement at this diversity, I learned that there are many more diverse images of Mary. It seems that every time, place, and culture has its own representation of the one Mary, Mother of Jesus. These representations sometimes connect with a certain theology, such as Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Other times, they are the result of the artist’s imagination relative to the artistic tastes of a certain place and time. Most often they are related to a specific apparition of Mary, such as her apparitions in Guadalupe (1531), LaVang (1798), Lourdes (1858), Banneux (1933), and so on.

Though very small in scope, this online exhibit of Marian Images intends to provide a selection of representations of Mary that reflect a certain theology, particular apparitions, and various artistic interpretations.

Johan van Parys is the Director of Liturgy and the Sacred Arts at the Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis, Minnesota and the Artistic Director of EnVisionChurch.


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