Iconography in Art and Architecture  .............  Illustrated Dictionaries - Table of Contents

Mary, the Mother of Jesus - Iconography in Art and Architecture
Iconography: Study of the symbolic, often religious, meaning of objects, persons, or events depicted in works of art
Research contributions by Gregory L. Witul

On this page:

Annunciation

Assumption

Birth of Mary

Coronation

Deesis

Dormition

"Hail, Mary" prayer

Immaculate Conception

Immaculate Heart of Mary

John the Apostle, Protected by

Lourdes, Our Lady of

Madonna

Mandorla

Marriage of Mary and Joseph

"Mother of God"

North America, Patron Saint of

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Portrait


Presentation of Mary in the Temple

Queen of Heaven

Queen of Peace (holding child Jesus)

Sacred Heart of Mary

Seven Joys

Seven Sorrows

Visitation: Mary Visits Elizabeth

See also :

Epiphany, Magi

Flight Into Egypt

Gabriel, Archangel

Halo

Holy Family

Jesus Teaching in the Temple (age 12)

Joseph

Lily
Mandorla ....

Nativity ( Shepherds) .

Pentecost ....

Presentation of the of the infant Jesus in the Temple
Rosary

Saint Ann (Anne) ....

Saint Simon Stock

Scapular..

Image History Examples
Annunciation In Christianity, the revelation to Mary, the mother of Jesus by the angel Gabriel that she would conceive a child to be born the Son of God.

Luke 1: 26-38:

26And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

 27To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

 28And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

 29And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

 30And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

 31And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

 32He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

 33And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

 34Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

 35And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

 36And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

 37For with God nothing shall be impossible.

 38And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

....
Luke 1:42-48 (King James Version)

 42And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.

 43And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

 44For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

 45And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.

 46And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,

 47And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

 48For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.


The "Hail, Mary" prayer is fashioned from the Biblical texts above.

Hail Mary, full of grace.
Our Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.

The "Hail, Mary" prayer in Latin:
Ave Maria, gratia plena,
Dominus tecum.
Benedicta tu in mulieribus,
et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc,
et in hora mortis nostrae.
Amen.

Depictions: Archangel Gabriel and the Virgin Mary. Often includes the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove.
Stained glass:

Grace Episcopal Church, Lockport

Westminster Presbyterian Church

St. Joseph RC Cathedral

St. Joseph RC Cathedral

St. John the Evangelist RC Church

Our Lady of Victory RC Basilica

Holy Angels RC Church

Annunciation RC Church

Assumption RC Church

Santa Maria De Ricci Church, Florence, ITALY

Icons:

Hellenic Orthodox Church of the Annunciation

Paintings:

Catalonian National Art Museum, Barcelona, Spain    Chest


Catalonian National Art Museum, Barcelona, Spain  By Francisco de Solis



Sgraffito:

Assumption RC Church
 
Assumption Assumption of Mary into Heaven
There is no biblical support or scriptural basis for the Assumption of Mary doctrine. In fact, the Bible does not even record Mary's death.

Pope Pius XII proclaim
ed the Assumption as doctrine in 1950 in his Munificentissimus Deus. This dogma states that the "Immaculate Virgin, after the completion of her earthly life was assumed body and soul into the glory of Heaven." The doctrine further states that Mary was glorified in heaven and is "exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things."

See Dormition below.
Painting:

Blessed Trinity RC Church

Stained glass:

Our Lady of Victory RC Basilica

Holy Angels RC Church

Assumption RC Church


Sgraffito:

Assumption RC Church
Birth of Mary Not recorded in the Bible Stained glass:

St. Joseph RC Cathedral
Coronation / Queen of Heaven:
There is nothing in the Bibe about Mary being crowned upon her arrival in Heaven, yet this has been a popular theme in the art for more than eight centuries.


Mary crowned with stars and standing on a crescent moon
Possible origin: Revelation 12:1 A woman clothed with the sun, having the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

See
The Virgin Mary as the Woman of the Apocalypse by Peter Paul Rubens "Book of the Revelation of John", usually referred to simply as "Revelation," is the last book of the New Testament. It is also called the "Apocalypse of John."

See What is the meaning of the crescent moon that Mary is sometimes pictured standing upon?
Sculpture:

Blessed Trinity RC Church

Painting:

Holy Angels RC Church

Annunciation RC Church

Stained glass:

Holy Angels RC Church

St. Joseph RC Cathedral

Annunciation RC Church

St. Joseph RC Cathedral

Holy Angels RC Church

Hellenic Orthodox Church of the Annunciation
Death/ Dormition The Bible does not record Mary's death.

Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God: The Dormition of the Theotokos is a Great Feast of the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches which commemorates the "falling asleep" or death of the Theotokos (Mary, the mother of Jesus; literally translated as God-bearer), and her bodily resurrection before being taken up into heaven. See Assumption above.
Stained glass:

St. Joseph RC Cathedral

Our Lady of VictoryRC Basilica


Mural:

Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, Goritsy, Russia
Deesis
"In Byzantine art, and later Eastern Orthodox art generally, the DeŽsis or Deisis, is a traditional iconic representation of Christ in Majesty or Christ Pantocrator: enthroned, carrying a book, and flanked by the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist, and sometimes other saints and angels.

 "Mary and John, and any other figures, are shown facing towards Christ with their hands raised in supplication on behalf of humanity.

"The presence of Mary and John, and other figures, is one of the differences with the Western Christ in Majesty, where the Four Evangelists and/or their symbols are more commonly included around Christ. The Deesis composition is also commonly found in the West, especially those parts of Italy under Byzantine influence, but also the rest of Europe." - Wikipedia: Deesis (online Dec. 2014)
Mosaics:

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey
Immaculate Conception
Mary Immaculata: Mary without any stain (macula in Latin).

Roman Catholic belief that states that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was conceived and born without bearing the original sin of human beings.

In art, the Immaculate Conception is depicted as Mary with a crown of stars, standing on a crescent moon above a snake.

The Sun, Moon and Stars: This depiction of the Immaculate Conception refers to the Book of Revelations 12:1 "A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head... She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth."

The Snake: Pope Pius IX, officially defining the Immaculate Conception as dogma for the Roman Catholic Church, primarily appealed to the text of Genesis 3:15 where the serpent was told by God, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed."  In Catholic understanding, this was a prophecy that foretold of a "woman" who would always be at enmity with the serpent - that is, a woman who would never be under the power of sin, nor in bondage to the serpent.

Furthermore, in art, Mary has her foot on the head of the reptile. This also refers to the Genesis creation story (Genesis 3:14-15) and the serpent's punishment:

"So the Lord God said to the serpent: "Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life. And I will put enmity Between you and the woman,  And between your seed and her seed;  He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel."

Mural:

Buffalo Religious Arts Center

Paintings:

Catalonian National Art Museum, Barcelona, Spain    Zurbaran painting
Immaculate Heart of Mary Sacred Heart of Mary "Physical heart of Blessed Virgin Mary as a symbol of Mary's interior life" - Wikipedia: Immaculate Heart of Mary

Depictions: Heart is pierced with seven wounds or swords
Sculpture:

Felician Sisters Immaculate Heart of Mary Convent Chapel
Jesus, Holding See Mother of God below

John the Apostle, Protected by   Stained glass:

Our Lady of Victory RC Basilica
Lourdes, Our Lady of  "Beginning on 11 February 1858, a 14-year old peasant girl called Bernadette Soubirous claimed to have experienced a series of apparitions of a girl dressed in white and with a blue belt around her waist, who eventually introduced herself as the Immaculate Conception, a name by which the Virgin Mary was known. The figure always appeared in one place, a niche above the main cavity of the grotto, in which a wild rose bush was growing. Among the instructions from 'the Virgin' were "Go and drink from the spring", "Go and tell the priests to build a chapel here", and "Have the people come here in procession." - Wikipedia (July 2011)
Stained glass:

Felician Sisters Convent Chapel
Madonna A Madonna is a representation of Mary, either alone or with her child Jesus. These images are central icons for both the Catholic and Orthodox churches. The word is from Italian ma donna, meaning "my lady".
Mosaic:

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey
Mandorla


Marriage of Mary and Joseph Mary and Joseph were betrothed when Mary became pregnant. See Matthew 1:18-25 Stained glass:

Our Lady of Victory Basilica

Corpus Christi RC Church

Milan Cathedral Museum
"Mother of God"
One of the most common  subject matters in art, especially in  icons, is Mary holding Jesus in her arms.

In Orthodox theology, the Virgin Mary is the Theotokos ("God-bearer") - the fulfillment of the Old Testament archetype revealed in the Ark of the Covenant, because she carried the New Covenant in the person of Christ; thus, the Orthodox consider her the Ark of the New Covenant, and give her the respect and reverence as such.
Icons:
Hellenic Orthodox Church of the Annunciation

St. Casimer's RC Church

Mural:

Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, Goritsy, Russia

Sculpture:

Catalonian National Art Museum, Barcelona, Spain     Romanesque

Catalonian National Art Museum, Barcelona, Spain    Renaissance

Painting:

Catalonian National Art Museum, Barcelona, Spain  By Vincenzo Frediani

Mosaic:

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

North America, Patron Saint of  See Immaculate Conception above
Painting:

Buffalo Religious Arts Center Xavier Hall Gallery
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Our Lady of Perpetual Help (or of Succour) or Our Mother of Perpetual Help is a title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary, associated with a Byzantine icon of the same name, said to be 13th or 14th century, but perhaps 15th century. - Wikipedia  
Our Lady of Mount Carmel See St. Simon Stock and Brown Scapular  
Portrait Usually portrayed as an attractive young woman Stained glass:

Saints Peter and Paul RC Church

St. Joseph RC Cathedral
Presentation of Mary in the Temple Presentation of Mary in the Temple (November 21 Feast day): The Scriptures tells us nothing of Mary's hidden life. That which is known about the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple is found in the Apocrypha, principally in chapter seven of the Protoevangelium of James, which has been dated by historians prior to the year 200 AD. Stained glass:

Felician Sisters Convent Chapel

Our Lady of Victory RC Basilica
Queen of Heaven
Stained glass:
Annunciation RC Church

Sculpture:
Blessed Trinity RC Church


Mosaic:

Church on Spilled Blood, St. Petersburg, Russia

Mural:

St. Casimir's RC Church

Queen of Peace Hold the child Jesus in her arms Sculpture:

Buffalo Religious Art Center

Stained glass:

Grace Episcopal Church, Lockport
Seven Joys Seven Joys

The Annunciation
The Nativity of Jesus
The Adoration of the Magi
The Resurrection of Christ
The Ascension of Christ to Heaven
The Pentecost
The Coronation of the Virgin in Heaven

Alternative choices might include the Visitation, the Finding in the Temple, or the Assumption of Mary
 
Seven Sorrows

Our Lady of Sorrows
AKA:

Our Lady of the Severn Sorrows
Our Lady of the Seven Dolours
Sorrowful mother
Mother of Sorrows

St. Mary, Mother of Sorrows


The Seven Sorrows of Mary are a popular devotion in the Roman Catholic Church. There is a devotional prayer which consists of meditation on her Seven Sorrows. Also, there is a corresponding devotion to the Seven Joys of Mary.


7 sorrows:
1. The Prophecy of Simeon over the Infant Jesus. (Luke 2:34)
2.The Flight into Egypt of the Holy Family. (Matthew 2:13)
3. The Loss of the Child Jesus for Three Days. (Luke 2:43)
4. The Meeting of Jesus and Mary along the Way of the Cross. (Luke 23:26)%. The Crucifixion, where Mary stands at the foot of the cross. (John 19:25)
6. The Descent from the Cross, where Mary receives the dead body of Jesus in her arms. (Matthew 27:57)
7. The Burial of Jesus. (Joh
n 19:40)

One depiction shows one or more daggers thrust into the heart of Mary

Sculpture:

Buffalo Religious Art Center
Visitation Mary Visits Elizabeth: Luke 1:39-56 Painting:

Annunciation RC Church

Stained glass:

Our Lady of Victory RC Basilica

Holy Angels RC Church



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