Mary of the Month (October 2011)

Benjamin Mary of the Month

These two statutes of Mary, in the Doria-Pamphili park in Rome, evoke the conflicted relationship we have with motherhood. We desire to be loved, but at the same time we resent the fact that “being loved” is something completely beyond our control. The conflict seems to be most obvious in teenagers, who have a way of resenting and pushing away …

Mary of the Month (September 2011)

Benjamin Mary of the Month

The patroness of the cathedral of Madrid is the Blessed Virgin Mary, venerated by locals (and pilgrims) in this image of the Virgen de la Almudena. The unusual name for Mary apparently comes from the Arabic word, al-mudayna (the citadel), indicating a part of the city of Madrid, a city which was founded by the Moors. The Virgin was one …

Mary of the Month (August 2011)

Benjamin Mary of the Month

In the city of Rome there are many depictions of Mary, placed on the sides of buildings to honor her, thank her, and remind people that they have a mother. This one is near the parliament building in downtown Rome. Here is a very thought-provoking reflection on Mary and femininity from Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Redemptoris Mater. This Marian …

Mary of the Month (July 2011)

Benjamin Mary of the Month

On July 17th, the Church celebrates Our Lady of Mount Carmel. This statue, done in the full Italian baroque style, is in the church of Santa Maria in Traspontina near the Vatican. It is made to be carried on the shoulders of men in a procession. I like the way that, despite the rather distracting opulence of the artistic style, …

Mary of the Month (June 2011)

Benjamin Mary of the Month

This image is from a shrine to Mary outside the town of Nepi, which is north of Rome towards Viterbo. Before Christianity came to the area there was a temple to the goddess Diana, but in the year AD 520 some monks destroyed the temple and built a monastery and a basilica on top of its ruins. Two of these …

Mary of the Month (May 2011)

Benjamin Mary of the Month

This year, on May 1st, the Catholic Church declared Pope John Paul II to be Blessed. The foundation of the Pope’s holiness was his Total Consecration to Mary, expressed in his coat of arms at the bottom of the mosaic. He dedicated himself entirely as a servant of Mary, giving her full authority over his whole life. Her motherly protection …

Mary of the Month (April 2011)

Benjamin Mary of the Month

The last week of March, the Church celebrates the Annunciation of Our Lord. Catholic people sometimes debate whether this is a feast of Jesus or a feast of Mary, but the argument is superfluous since we cannot celebrate anything about Mary without constantly making reference to Jesus – He is her joy and her glory and the reason that Mary …

Mary of the Month (March 2011)

Benjamin Mary of the Month

Being Christian means being united as children of the same Father in heaven; being Catholic means we are all children of the same Immaculate Mother. Italy, like nearly every other Catholic country, has a special love for Mary, and American visitors to Rome are always surprised to encounter random shrines to Our Lady. This image is in a side street …

Mary of the Month (February 2010)

Benjamin Mary of the Month

One February 11th the Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the name of an apparition of Mary that happened in France 1858. An abundant spring of water flows out from the grotto where the apparition took place, and people go there to bathe in the hopes of being cured. This is a picture of the cave where …

Mary of the Month (January 2011)

Benjamin Mary of the Month

At the beginning of every year, January 1st, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Her tender love for Jesus and His Divine love for her is extremely hard to capture, although once in a while an artist succeeds. I was very happy to have found this wonderful statue, which is a depiction of Our Lady of …