Images of the Virgin and Child In Celebration of Mother’s Day and the Month of May

Fra Paolino, Italian, ca. 1490 – 1547, Holy Family with Saint Elizabeth and the Infant Baptist, early 16th century, oil on panel. Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. 1961.047.007

The Raclin Murphy Museum of Art curates a gallery with Images of the Virgin and Child In Celebration of Mother’s Day and the Month of May. Read the reflection from Joseph Antenucci Becherer, Director, below.


Introduction

Mother, Intercessor, Patroness, Virgin, Guide, Inspiration.   Saint above all saints, Mary represents all this and more.   For an uncountable audience across time and place, Mary visualizes love.  Images in her honor date back centuries and span the globe; they are central to your university art museum.   

Representations of the Blessed Mother appear prominently and powerfully across the history of art.   Undoubtedly, she is the most frequently depicted woman in art of all time.   More than any earthly regent or sparkling celebrity, images of Mary appear in abundance as a source of inspiration and beauty, and touchstone of charity and holiness. 

Fully illustrating that the history of art and the history of the Catholic Church are closely intertwined, the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art hosts dozens of representations of Mary in nearly every medium from the Middle Ages to the present day. Today their home is a museum, but originally, many of these masterpieces were intended for display in a church or a chapel. Others still were presented in residences as objects of personal devotion.

Widely regarded as among the most significant and dynamic university art museums in the nation, the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art is highly unique. As the only major art museum at a religious, specifically Catholic, university, there is the opportunity to embrace art and history as no other institution of higher education can. Here, images of Mary illuminate with a loving brightness and warmth.

Marian imagery calls to mind the recent insights of Father John Jenkins, C.S.C., “art is central to the Catholic tradition, used to explore, deepen or even challenge faith, so it is therefore also central to Notre Dame’s Mother, Intercessor, Patroness, Virgin, Guide, Inspiration. Saint above all saints, Mary represents all this and more. For an uncountable audience across time and place, Mary visualizes love. Images in her honor date back centuries and span the globe; they are central to your university art museum.

Representations of the mission to create a community that together seeks truth in all forms.”

In this very special month of May, we share a diverse array of visions that honor Mary.

Joseph Antenucci Becherer, Ph.D.
Director and Curator, Raclin Murphy Museum of Art

About the Article:

Engage with the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art by exploring their collection through background information and reflection questions.

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April 22, 2020

Art and HistoryArtArt HistoryCatholicismMadonnaMother's DayRaclin Murphy Museum of ArtReligious ArtSculptureVirgin Mary

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