Virgin Mary

Virgin Mary (Madonna), the mother of Jesus Christ. Only part of her legend can be found in the Gospels (of Matthew and of Luke), many facts of her life were written later, and her cult was established only in the late Middle Ages. The fullest account of her life could be found in The Golden Legend, a collection of apocryphal texts, and saints’ legends published in Latin in the 13th century by the Dominican Jacob da Voragine, Archbishop of Genoa.
See: Andrei Rublev. The Virgin of Vladimir.
Theophanes the Greek. The Virgin. The Don Virgin.
The following episodes from the life of Mary are reflected in the fine arts:
Birth of Mary is described in Protoevangelium of James (2nd century A.D.). She was miraculously born to a rich elderly man Joachim and his wife Anne, who had been barren for many years. From the age of six months, Mary was kept pure in a “sanctuary in her chamber”, cared for by “the undefiled daughters of the Hebrews.”
See: Vittore Carpaccio. Birth of the Virgin.
Domenico Ghirlandaio The Birth of Mary.
Giotto. The Birth of Mary.
Benozzo Gozzoli. Tabernacle of the Visitation: Birth of Mary.
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo Childhood of the Virgin.
Francisco de Zurbarán Childhood of the Virgin.
Presentation of the Virgin, Protoevangelium of James and The Golden Legend tell how at the age of 3 Mary was brought to the Temple with offerings. Left on the lowest step of the Temple she mounted up without any help. After they made their offerings, Anne and Joachim, left their daughter, with other virgins, at the Temple.
See: Jacopo Bellini. Presentation of the Virgin at the Temple.
Cima da Conegliano.Presentation of the Virgin Mary at the Temple.
Giotto Presentation at the Temple.
Education of the Virgin, Protoevangelium of James and TheGolden Legend tell that Mary was left in the Temple and was brought up there ‘with other virgins… and was visited daily by angels’.
Jean-Honoré Fragonard. The Education of the Virgin.
Georges de La Tour. Education of the Virgin.
Marriage of the Virgin. Mary’s engagement and marriage are not in the Scripture either, but are invented later. When Mary was 14 the high priest ordered all the descendants of David of marriageable age to gather and bring a rod; whose rod blossomed into flower would become Mary’s husband. Joseph, no longer young, also came with his rod, and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove made his rod bloom. Then the wedding was celebrated according to Jewish customs.
See: Fra Angelico. Annunciation. The Wedding of the Virgin.
Giotto The Marriage Procession of the Virgin. Marriage of the Virgin.
El Greco Marriage of the Virgin.
Pietro Perugino. Marriage of the Virgin.
Nicolas Poussin. The Marriage of the Virgin, The Marriage of the Virgin.
Raphael Marriage of the Virgin.
Annunciation – is told by Luke (1:26-38): ‘the archangel Gabriel was sent by God’ to Mary. Gabriel announced to her that she was to give birth to a son, Jesus, who ‘will be great, and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David, and he will be king over Israel for ever; his reign shall never end’. ‘”I am the Lord’s servant,” said Mary; “may it be as you have said.” Then the angel left her.’
See: Antonello da Messina. Virgin Annunciate. The Annunciation. The Annunciation.
Fra Bartolommeo Annunciation
Giovanni Bellini. The Annunciation. The Annunciation.
Alessandro Botticelli Cestello Annunciation; The Annunciation.
Dieric Bouts the Elder The Annumciation.
Melchior Broederlam. Annunciation and Visitation.
Agnolo Bronzino. Annunciation. Annunciation. Annunciation.
Sir Edward Burne-Jones The Annunciation. The Flower of God, Annunciation.
Robert Campin The Annunciation. (The Merode Altarpiece).
Vittore Carpaccio. Annunciation.
Petrus Christus The Annunciation and The Nativity.
Cima da Conegliano. Annunciation.
Francesco del Cossa. Annunciation.
Carlo Crivelli. Annunciation with St. Emidius.
Duccio di Buoninsegna. Maestà: The Annunciation.
Jan van Eyck The Annunciation. Gabriel. Virgin, The Annunciation, The Annunciation.
Fra Angelico. Annunciation and Adoration of the Magi. Perugia Triptych: Angel of the Annunciation. Perugia Triptych: The Virgin from the Annunciation. Altarpiece of theAnnunciation. Annunciation. Annunciation. Annunciation.
Giotto. The Angel of Annunciation. The Angel of Annunciation.
Benozzo Gozzoli. Tabernacle of the Visitation: Annunciation: the Archangel Gabriel. Mary.
El Greco The Annunciation, The Annunciation, The Annunciation, The Annunciation.
Matthias Grünewald The Annunciation.
Leonardo da Vinci The Annunciation.
Fra Filippo Lippi The Annunciation, The Annunciation.
Filippino Lippi Annunciation.
Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Annunciation.
Lorenzo Lotto The Annunciation, The Angel of the Annunciation.
Masolino Archangel Gabriel, The Virgin Annunciate, The Annunciation.
Anton Raphael Mengs. Annunciation. Annunciation.
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo Annunciation.
Pontormo. Annunciation.
Nicolas Poussin The Annunciation, The Annunciation.
Pierre-Paul Prud’hon.Head of the Virgin for Annunciation.
Raphael The Annunciation.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti Ecce Ancilla Domini (“The Annunciation”).
Martin Schongauer. The Annunciation.
Simone Martini. Annunciation.
Titian The Annunciation.
Rogier van der Weyden St. Columba Altarpiece. Annunciation, Annunciation Triptych.
Visitation, the visit of the Virgin Mary to her cousin St. Elizabeth soon after the Annunciation, is described by St. Luke (1:39-56). It was a meeting of mutual rejoicing: Mary had conceived and Elizabeth was in the sixth month of pregnancy with her future son, St. John the Baptist. When Elizabeth saw Mary and heard her greetings, ‘the baby stirred in her womb.’ And she said to Mary: ‘Happy is she who has had faith that the Lord’s promise to her would be fulfilled!’
And Mary answered:
‘My soul tells out the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour;
for he has looked with favour on his servant,
lowly as she is.
From this day forwardd
all genertions will count me blessed,
for the Mighty God has done great things for me.”
See: Dieric Bouts the Elder The Visitation.
Melchior Broederlam. Annunciation and Visitation.
Maurice Denis. The Visitation.
El Greco. Visitation.
Jean Fouquet Visitation.
Fra Angelico. Annunciation. The Visitation.
Domenico Ghirlandaio The Visitation.
Giotto. The Visitation.
Pontormo. The Visitation. The Visitation.
Jan van Scorel. The Visitation.
Rogier van der Weyden Visitation of Mary.
Second Annunciation is only rarely portrayed in art, although it is known from the Golden Legend. Shortly before her death, an angel appeared to Mary a second time and told her that she would be assumed into Heaven, an idea closely related to the belief of immaculate conception and assumption. Mary correspondingly portrayed as an older woman wearing the veil of a married woman.
See: Duccio di Buoninsegna. Maestà: The Announcement of the Virgin’s Death.
Jean Fouquet. Second Annunciation.
Death of the Virgin is told in apocryphal texts: Mary, who lived till old age, longed to be with her son again. An angel visited her and foretold her death in the next three days. She prayed to be allowed to see all the apostles again. Apostles by that time were scattered over the world, but by divine power they were all brought to the bed of the dying Virgin. In three days she died and was met in heaven by Jesus Christ, angels, saints, martyrs, and virgins.
See: Pieter Bruegel the Elder.The Death of the Virgin.
Caravaggio Death of the Virgin.
Duccio di Buoninsegna. Maestà: Parting from the Apostles, The Death of the Virgin.
Fra Angelico. Annunciation. The Death of the Virgin.
Giotto The Death of the Virgin.
Hugo van der Goes Death of the Virgin.
Benozzo Gozzoli. Tabernacle of the Madonna delle Tosse: Death of Mary.
Hans Holbein the Elder Death of the Virgin.
Andrea Mantegna. The Death of the Virgin.
Theophanes the Greek School. The Dormition.
Assumption – bodily ascension into heaven after death.
Assumption of the Virgin has no Biblical basis, and it took a long time to establish this belief. Three days after her death the Virgin Mary was taken up to heaven.
See: Andrea del Castagno. The Assumption of the Virgin with SS. Julian and Miniato.
Correggio Assumption of the Virgin.
Anthony van Dyck The Assumption of the Virgin.
Benozzo Gozzoli. Tabernacle of the Madonna delle Tosse: Assumption of the Virgin.
El Greco. Assumption of the Virgin.
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo The Assumption of the Virgin.
Pietro Perugino. The Assumption of the Virgin with Saints.
Nicolas Poussin The Assumption of the Virgin, The Assumption of the Virgin.
Peter Paul Rubens The Assumption of the Virgin.
Titian Assumption of the Virgin.
Coronation of the Virgin took place just after her Assumption. In the heavens Mary was crowned. In the fine arts she is shown crowned by Christ, or by God the Father, or by the Trinity: Christ, God the Father and the dove, which symbolizes the Holy Ghost, are all present. The belief in the Coronation of the Virgin has no basis in the Bible. It is derived from the text attributed to a Bishop Melito of Sardis.
See: Giovanni Bellini. Pesaro Altarpiece. Coronation of the Virgin.
Alessandro Botticelli Coronation of the Virgin with the Saints John the Evangelist, Augustine, Jerome and Eligius. (San Marco altarpiece).
Fra Angelico. The Coronation of the Virgin. The Coronation of the Virgin. The Coronation of the Virgin. Coronation of the Virgin.
El Greco The Coronation of the Virgin.
Filippino Lippi The Coronation of the Virgin.
Fra Filippo Lippi Coronation of the Virgin, The Coronation of the Virgin.
Raphael  Coronation of the Virgin.
Diego Velázquez. The Coronation of the Virgin.
Virgin Mary is present, though not as the main character, in all episodes connected with the birth, early years and death of her son Jesus Christ.
Recommended reading:
365 Mary: A Daily Guide to Mary’s Wisdom and Comfort by Woodeene Koenig-Brick (Author). Harper SanFrancisco, 1997.
Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God by Scott Hahn. Doubleday, 2001.
Mary and the Fathers of the Church: The Blessed Virgin Mary in Patristic Thought by Thomas Buffer (Translator), Luigi S. M. Gambero. Ignatius Press, 1999.
Mary Through the Centuries: Her Place in the History of Culture by Jaroslav Pelikan. Yale Univ Pr, 1998.
Mary: A Flesh-and-Blood Biography of the Virgin Mother by Lesley Hazleton (Author). Bloomsbury USA, 2004.
The World’s First Love by Fulton J. Sheen. Ignatius Press, 1996.
Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion by Hilda Graef. Sheed & Ward Ltd, 1999.
Introduction to Mary: The Heart of Marian Doctrine and Devotion by Mark I. Miravalle. Sheed & Ward Ltd, 1999.
John Paul II’s Book of Mary by Margaret Bunson (Compiler), Paul, II John. Our Sunday Visitor, 1996.
The Essential Mary Handbook: A Summary of Beliefs, Practices, and Prayers (Redemptorist Pastoral Publication)
by Judith A. Bauer (Editor). Liguori Publications, 1999.
Roses, Fountains, and Gold: The Virgin Mary in History, Art, and Apparition by John Martin. Ignatius Press, 1998.
Mary: Images of the Holy Mother by Jacqueline Orsini. Chronicle Books, 2000.
A Handbook on Guadalupe by Brother Francis Mary (Editor), Francis Mary. Ignatius Press, 1997.
The Orthodox Veneration of Mary the Birthgiver of God by St. John Maximovitch, Seraphim Father Rose (Translator). St Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1997.
Mary’s First Christmas by Walter, Jr. Wangerin. Zondervan, 1998.

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