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Multifaceted Icon MARIA

We proclaim to you what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have touched with our hands: the Word of Life. (1 John: v.l)

We are used to praying before the image of Mary; now we can pray “with” the idea of Mary that the hands touch and contain. In other words, the image is not excluded from the gesture of prayer, but “is” the gesture of prayer itself. The image thus becomes the witness and content of the devotion of the one who is praying. Object and subject of prayer are united. Is this not the highest aspiration of every person who seeks a mystical union?

Mary has always been seen in an intimate relationship with the mystery of her Son, Jesus. That is why her title par excellence is Mother of God. Until the 13th century, she was always depicted with the Child in her arms or on her lap. The Virgin and Child is the one that most accords with the New Testament and the Christian tradition, both in the East and the West.

There is no Child in this sculpture, but if you know how to look at it, you will find out, thus saving the theological principle of divine motherhood without forgetting virginity.

After the Council of Trent, Catholics increasingly venerated the image of the Virgin without the Child, painted or sculpted as a young woman with the moon at her feet and crowned with stars.

In Chapter XII of Revelation we read: A wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon at her feet, wearing a crown of twelve stars (v. 1). Both the Holy Fathers and the liturgy, have held that the woman of Revelation was the figure of Mary, Mother of the Lord. This statuette alludes to the crescent moon, and with this traditional element, the Marian iconography is completed.

And why does this statue not have a face?

Therein lies its originality and value. Usually, the faces that appear in images of Mary come from the models the artist has looked at, stylizing and idealizing their lines or expression as much as possible. However, the model is still a human person. Mary, on the other hand, belongs to the transcendent world, as the Catholic dogma of the Assumption states. Therefore, to bestow human likeness, albeit of great beauty, on that which is transcendent, is it not going beyond the limits that artistic expression can intuit?

That is why this statue has no face. This must be imagined and seen by those who pray to hold it. Then it will be more real and less profane than the most beautiful face that the imagination of the best artist can imagine.

Miquel Ambròs i Albertí
Theologist and expert in oriental sciences
Palma de Mallorca 1995