Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Name that Saint: Mary!

I know most of you probably saw the answer in the comments box... but I thought I'd officially announce it. The saint that is supposed to be depicted with this statue (which is at the cathedral in LA) is... Mary.

I know... I know... The guesses from people who didn't know were usually male... because... well.. they made Mary look like a preteen boy...

The one aspect that gave it away with a few of you (and that Paul noticed after guessing Saint Martin de Porres and Saint Augustine) was what she's standing on...

Still, I think this statue does say a lot about a certain mindset that would make all women androgynous (even the Blessed Mother) so that we could all be "the same..."


  1. Eak! That is just scary. Poor Mary. She deserves so much more but what can you expect from LA?

  2. Coincidentally, Steven Greydanus just wrote an article about that statue!

  3. How funny! He wrote it a few days ago, so I'm guessing that's where the picture on the thread on CAF that I read (that inspired this post) came from! Now I'll have to go read it!

  4. I've seen this statue and their cathedral. Yuck is all I can say. The cathedral is a big concrete box. It's the ugliest church I've ever been to and that is saying a lot since I used to be a Protestant.

  5. It's definitely NOT the most beautiful depiction of the Blessed Virgin... But wasn't Mary about 14 years old when she gave birth to Jesus? I'm not sure that the statue is that far off of what a 14-year-old Israeli girl might look like. As much as I love, love, love traditional depictions of Our Lady - I seriously doubt she was caucasian with blue eyes : )

  6. Hi Kateri-

    I wouldn't expect them to make her caucasian with blue eyes. But I do find the motivation behind making her a girl with shorn hair and uncovered head and arms for that time to be questionable. What does Paul say about shorn hair as a custom at the time (that it was seen as shameful). And I have the feeling that the lack of covering is just another projection of "how things should be" according to the powers that were in LA at the time... if it wasn't supposed to be Mary I wouldn't have thought it was a bad statue at all though.

  7. Oh dear - I think there might have been a misunderstanding. The statue in no way depicts a "shorn" woman. From the front it definitely might look that way, but in person it's obvious that her hair is merely pulled back. Here is another photo:

    I think here you can see that she does look more feminine than in the head-on image. Again, not my favorite look either (I am partial to Our Lady of Sorrows, personally...), but in person it's not quite as bad as that first photo makes it out to be. I'm not sure about the lack of veiling. Might it have been that girls of a certain age did not veil in that time period, or did not necessarily veil at all times? I honestly think the "attempt" here, and maybe it didn't really come across very well, was to portray a more "realistic" image of the Blessed Virgin as the Jewish teenager she was, instead of the more romanticized, Anglicized version we're accustomed to.

    I'm in the archdiocese of LA and trust me, I've not always loved everything that came from Cardinal Mahoney's time here. Luckily, he's moved on so we're here praying for better leadership and a renewed commitment to tradition with our new Cardinal!

  8. Thanks so much for the second link Kateri! I really did think that her hair was shaved to a thin layer from the first picture (and I know I've seen others in other places that thought the same thing from that angle). I think that's why all the guesses were male!

    I would be surprised if a girl of an age to get married didn't veil in that time, or had exposed arms, but I'm definitely glad you shared the other link!

    I'd love to see a more traditional Mary who had the features we imagine a girl of that time and area would have had too!

  9. Yes! Even though I am one of those blue-eyed girls, I think it helps me see the Blessed Mother in new ways when I see her depicted differently. For example, seeing such a "young" Mary helps me realize the significance of her choice to say "YES" to God - at the tender age of 14. Seeing a more "ethnic" Mary helps me remember who Jesus' "people" were, and that Mary was a member of a family and a community and a religion and a culture that was a part of who she was. Seeing a poor-looking Mary (instead of a highly decorated Mary) helps me to remember her humble lifestyle. I think it's important to try to think of Her in context. Although, again, I do LOVE the gorgeous traditional depictions as well. I think there is a place for both in our faith : )

  10. Yeah. I showed my husband a few years ago.

    -"Honey, what saint do you think this is?"
    -"I don't know."
    -"It's Mary."
    -"That's a guy."
    -"No, really, it's supposed to be Mary."
    -"But, that's a guy."
    -"Really, honey."
    -"That's ridiculous."

  11. Just a quick stop by to say I'm a new follower.


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