Paintings

Christmas’ Missing Icon: Mary Breastfeeding Jesus

RNS photo courtesy www.cattoliciromani.com, via Wikimedia Commons
Sagrada Familia by Pompeo Cesura. RNS photo courtesy www.cattoliciromani.com, via Wikimedia Commons

At its heartwarming core, Christmas is the story of a birth: the tender relationship between a new mother and her newborn child.

Indeed, that maternal bond between the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus has resonated so deeply across the centuries that depicting the blessed intimacy of the first Noel has become an integral part of the Christmas industry.

Yet all the familiar scenes associated with the holy family today — creches and church pageants, postage stamps, and holiday cards — are also missing an obvious element of the mother-child connection that modern Christians are apparently happy to do without: a breast-feeding infant.

Jesus certainly wasn’t a bottle baby. So what happened to Mary’s breasts? It’s a centuries-old story, but one that has a relatively brief answer: namely, the rise of the printing press in 15th-century Europe.

With the advent of movable type, historians say, came the ability to mass-market pornography, which promoted the sexualization of women’s bodies in the popular imagination. What's more, the printing press enabled the wider circulation of anatomical drawings for medical purposes, which in turn contributed to the demystification of the body. Both undermined traditional views of the body as a reflection of the divine.

Paint Your Faith

Against the gray of concrete and stone buildings, the vibrant colors of the Paint Your Faith mural on a wall of Metropolitan United Church in downtown Toronto can be seen from blocks away. In September 2009, four notable aerosol artists-who go by the monikers Chor Boogie, Siloette, Elicser, and Mediah-were commissioned by The United Church of Canada to create the 30-foot-by 60-foot mural to engage the public with an artistic expression of faith. Each artist spray-painted their personal response on a quadrant of the wall.

"We wanted to show that Christians are about more than just words and debate," says Aaron McCarroll Gallegos, executive producer of WonderCafe.ca, an interactive, community Web site of The United Church of Canada. "Christians are also about colors and sounds and healing in different ways. God works in our hearts and lives in ways that cannot always be articulated in words."
WonderCafe is also planning a Paint Your Faith mural in Vancouver, B.C., with painting scheduled to start on April 21, 2010, and the mural slated to be revealed on April 28.

 

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Sojourners Magazine February 2010
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Video About Paint Your Faith

Against the gray of concrete and stone buildings, the vibrant colors of the Paint Your Faith mural on a wall of Metropolitan United Church in downtown Toronto can be seen from blocks away. In September 2009, four notable aerosol artists—who go by the monikers Chor Boogie, Siloette, Elicser, and Mediah—were commissioned by The United Church of Canada to create the 30-foot-by 60-foot mural to engage the public with an artistic expression of faith. Each artist spray-painted their personal response on a quadrant of the wall.

 

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine February 2010
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

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