Maria Lactans

Maria Lactans
Maria Lactans (wikimedia commons)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Images of Mary Nursing baby Jesus

In our current time period and location in the world, breastfeeding in public is sometimes discouraged due to the possibility of exposing too much skin.  However, isn't this due, at least partially, to the sexualization of a woman's breasts?  In places and time periods where breastfeeding is a normal part of life, no one bats an eye at a woman nursing a baby in public.  Even in some Middle Eastern countries where many women cover from head to toe, breastfeeding in public is accepted and routine.  Some people even disagree with the displaying of beautiful paintings of the Blessed Virgin Mary breastfeeding Jesus, because it seems immodest.

What does the Catholic Church say about the topic?  According to the official Vatican newspaper, the Vatican has been requesting the restoration of images depicting Mary breastfeeding Jesus since 2008.  Father Enrico dal Covolo, a professor of classic and Christian literature at the Pontifical Salesian University had this to say on the topic: "The Virgin Mary who nurses her son Jesus is one of the most eloquent signs that the word of God truly and undoubtedly became flesh". 

I did a quick web search and found a number of sites extolling the beauty of the Virgin Mary breastfeeding Jesus.  There is a nine picture slideshow on  ; paintings from Rembrandt and Da Vinci are included in the mix.  WND Faith has a copy of the beautiful painting "Virgin of the Green Cushion" by Solario and an article about how "the lactating virgin was the primary symbol of God's love."  This ties in nicely with the book, Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood.Flickr has a painting from the Florence Cathedral Museum.  Peaceful Parenting has several more images of Mary nursing Jesus.  I even found picture of Mary nursing Jesus as a toddler.

What are your thoughts on this topic?  Do you think paintings and sculptures of Mary nursing Jesus should be more commonplace in churches?  Please leave a comment and let's have a friendly discussion :)

Written by Gina Peterson

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