Tag Archives: Dante

The Holy Mother of God

Today is the octave day of Christmastide, the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God, in whose Incarnate Son we experience the fullness of the priest’s blessing from the book of Numbers, “The Lord bless you and keep you: The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you: The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.”

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In Florence, near the Duomo. The quotation is from Dante’s Paradiso, with the translation given below.

Virgin Mother, daughter of your Son,
humbler and loftier past creation’s measure,
the fulcrum of the everlasting plan,

You are she who ennobled human nature
so highly, that its Maker did not scorn
to make Himself the Creature of His creature.

In your womb was the flame of love reborn,
in the eternal peace of whose warm ray
this flower has sprung and is so richly grown.
~ Dante, Paradiso XXXIII, translation by Anthony Esolen

The Blessed Virgin Mary was proclaimed Theotokos, God-bearer, Mother of God at the Council of Ephesus in 431. The Empress Pulcheria (399-455) who was later designated a saint of the church was very supportive of this declaration despite the opposition of Nestorius, the patriarch of Constantinople.

Below is the Basilica of the Annuncation in Nazareth.

Over the door it reads, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

The dome is an inverted lily.

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]