Tag Archives: art

In Praise of the Virgin Mary


“To us up here you are the torch of noon
Blazing with love, and for the mortals down there
You are the living fountainhead of hope.

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“Lady, you are so highly placed and helpful,
Whoever seeks grace and does not call on you
Wants his desires to fly up without wings.

–Dante’s Paradiso, Canto XXXIII
[Saint Bernard speaking]

The artworks are from the Bargello Museum in Florence.

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In Praise of the Virgin Mary

As we come near to the Feast of the Assumption, it seems natural to let the arts of Florence speak to each other of the beauty of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Here Dante, in his sublime Canto  XXXIII, has Saint Bernard speak of Mary. The artworks are from the Bargello Museum.

“Virgin mother, daughter of your Son,
Humbler and higher than all other creatures,
Fixed aim and goal of the eternal plan,…

“You are the one who lifted human nature
To such nobility that its own Maker
Did not disdain to be made of its making.

“Within your womb was lit once more the flame
Of that love through whose warmth this flower opened
To its full bloom in everlasting peace.”

–Dante’s Paradiso, Canto XXXIII
[Saint Bernard speaking]

Art is truly the fifth Gospel proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. The Catholic faith through the centuries has inspired such beauty in art, architecture, and music but the most beautiful of all is how faith shapes the beauty of lives caught up in the wonder of the love of God.

See this piece from Aleteia on what may be the three oldest images of Jesus.

Sunday Afterwords

During the early Christian centuries, art was developing as a powerful way to communicate the Gospel. Art can capture the imagination and lead us to a deeper reflection on faith and how faith shapes our moral stance in the world. The written word of the Sacred Scripture inspired a movement to express that word through art. Enjoy this lecture that leads us into the world of our Christian origins.

Sub Tuum Praesidium: Exploring Early Christian Heritage

“The Sub tuum praesidium is probably the oldest Christian prayer dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This prayer was long used in both Eastern and Western rites…” Read much more and see a 3rd century papyrus fragment, at the New Liturgical Movement.

Sub tuum praesidium confugimus, Sancta Dei Genetrix. Nostras deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus1, sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper, Virgo gloriosa et benedicta. Amen.

We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.

Our Lady of Sorrow, by Juan Pascual de Mena, in the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum

Our Lady of Sorrow, by Juan Pascual de Mena, in the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum

Our Lady of Expectation, museum in Toledo, Spain

Our Lady of Expectation, museum in Toledo, Spain

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Mary teaching Jesus to write - attributed to Luis de Morales 1509? - 1586 (mid 16th C), Bilbao

Mary teaching Jesus to write – attributed to Luis de Morales 1509? – 1586 (mid 16th C), Bilbao

A Pieta from the Cathedral in Bilbao.

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Museum of Art History



I was at Maria Theresien Platz in order to visit the Museum of Art History (Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien). The museum was built in 1872 in the Italian Renaissance style.

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Entrance to the gallery.

I walked into the museum when it opened at 10 and did not leave until 4:30 because it houses one of the richest and most important picture galleries in the world. The Hapsburg emperors had a passion for acquiring art and Archduke Leopold Wilhelm augmented the collection with many paintings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. In addition to the painting gallery there is a great collection of Egyptian and Classical art.


Jan Vermeer. The Art of Painting is considered one of the most important paintings of the Dutch school.

Raphael, La Madonna del Prato.

Late gothic statue of Mary.

A medicine chest.

A medicine chest.

When I left the museum I took the underground to Karlplatz to see Karlskirche built in honor of Saint Charles Borromeo.

The facade is novel with the two huge freestanding columns. I read in a guidebook that the idea came to the architect Von Erlach when he was in Rome and saw Saint Peter and Trajan’s column fused together as one from the Pincio hill at sunset.