Vatican plea to uncover Virgin Mary and show her breast-feeding baby Jesus

I found this article while browsing for images of Virgin Mary and thought it interesting to pass on, in light of some plain dumb rules on Internet Art Sites, such as this one :

Prohibited Artwork

    Artwork that is not permitted on our website includes, but is not limited to: Any artwork containing full or frontal nudity, genitals, female nipples, naked butts or butt cracks, sex/erotic/pornographic artwork of any kind, extreme gore or any other artwork that may be considered adult/mature/offensive in nature. Borderline subject material that is not specifically mentioned above, may also be removed. Our site moderators will review the artwork posted to our site and remove the artwork and the artist’s account if needed. We reserve the right to modify/delete any artwork posted to our website.

Vatican plea to uncover Virgin Mary and show her breast-feeding baby Jesus

By Simon Caldwell
Last updated at 11:09 PM on 23rd June 2008

It might be enough to make Banksy drop his aerosol in the gutter in surprise or cause Lucien Freud to spill paint down his smock in shock.

But the Vatican yesterday said it wanted to see more paintings of a semi-nude Virgin Mary.

What Catholic leaders have in mind is more images of Mary breast-feeding baby Jesus.

The official newspaper of the Holy See has declared it is time to undo four centuries of church disapproval of traditional representations of Mary as an earthy, fleshy mother doting on her newborn son.

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Images like Virgin and Child, by Joos van Cleve, painted in 1525, have fallen out of favour in recent centuries

The latest edition of L’Osservatore Romano ran two articles by respected art critics who said that for nearly 1,500 years the Madonna was portrayed partly clothed and shamelessly nursing the Christ child.

One of them blamed Protestant prudes for changing the trends in religious art that then led to the Virgin being covered up and left critics wondering if the infant Jesus was bottle-fed instead.

Such currents were so strong that even the nudes in Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel were covered up in fear of giving offence, and today the best places to see pictures of Mary nursing Jesus are not churches but major art galleries housing collections of Renaissance paintings.

But the hugely influential newspaper – which is often seen as having the support of the Pope – has now called for the “artistic and spiritual rehabilitation” of “loving and tender” images of Mary breast-feeding.

The intervention could inspire a revival in sacred art that would spell the end of 400 years of dressing up the Virgin to make her look “respectable”.

One article, written by Italian Church historian Lucetta Scaraffia, claimed a vast iconography of traditional Christian art had been “censored by the modern age” because images depicting Mary’s naked breast for her child were deemed too “unseemly”.

It said that artists later depicted the nursing Mary fully clothed because the Protestant reformers were generally critical of “the carnality and unbecoming nature of many sacred images”.

But Miss Scaraffia argued that later depictions had also diminished the Madonna’ s human side “that touches the hearts and faith of the devout”.

Miss Scaraffia said that when the early Christian artists represented the Virgin breast-feeding they had sought to reveal the reality of God’s incarnation.

A second piece, written by Father Enrico dal Covolo, a professor of classic and Christian literature in Rome, said: “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.”

Images of a semi-nude Mary breastfeeding can be traced back to early Christian times and were popular during the Renaissance period of the Middle Ages.

But they came to an abrupt end around the 16th or 17th century with the emergence of Calvinism and other dour Protestant faiths that viewed representations of ‘sexuality’ as essentially sinful.

Such ideas were resisted by Rome but they were accepted by Catholics particularly in France, Ireland and northern Europe.

The result is that very few, if any, Catholic churches or newspapers will dare to show such imagery even today.

Vatican plea to uncover Virgin Mary and show her breast-feeding baby Jesus Mail Online

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Here is my tongue-in-cheek version, digitally altered to please the censors:

Virgin and Child with Doorknob

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~ by ottorapp on October 1, 2008.

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