Saturday, September 15, 2012

Virgo dolorosa

Bernardino Poccetti 
1548 - 1612
The Lamenting Virgin (Virgo dolorosa)
Red chalk with the Virgin's figure containing a few retouches in black chalk. 
203 millimetres x 126 millimetres
The British Museum, London

Poccetti  specialised as a fresco painter. In his early career he painted palace facades in Florence, thus the nickname 'Bernardino delle facciate' or 'Bernardino delle Grottesche'

His best-known works include  the fourteen lunettes in the Chiostro Grande, Santissima Annunziata (Basilica of the Most Holy Annunciation) in Florence, the mother Church of the Servite order

The Servite order has amongst its main purposes the propagation of devotion to Mary, with special reference to her sorrows.

The drawing above is thought by The British Museum to be study for the figure of the lamenting Virgin for the vault of the Cappella delle Reliquie in the church of the Florentine Certosa (Charterhouse) at Galluzzo.

It is a work which explores the nature of Love, suffering and the pain of mourning

His work is more contemplative than contemporary artists of the Counter-Reformation

The Seven Sorrows of Mary are traditionally:
The Prophecy of Simeon. ("Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also...." Luke 2:35)
The Flight into Egypt
The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple
Mary Meets Jesus on the Way to Calvary.
Jesus Dies on the Cross
Mary Receives the Body of Jesus in Her Arms
The Body of Jesus Is Placed in the Tomb. 

Today is the Commemoratio angustiae et doloris Beatae Mariae Virginis

We remember the promise of Christ in the Beatitudes:

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4
Blessed [are] ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. 
Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you [from their company], and reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. 
Rejoice in that day, and leap [for joy]: for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for in the same manner did their fathers unto the prophets. Luke 6:   21-23

Four of the Seven Sorrows are to do with the Passion and Death of our Lord. There is an overlap with the Stations of the Cross.

This is not coincidental and neither is the fact that only too recently we celebrated the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.

"The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross which we celebrated yesterday [Saturday] is followed by the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. Two liturgical celebrations that invite us to make a spiritual pilgrimage to Calvary. They encourage us to unite ourselves with the Virgin Mary in contemplating the mystery of the Cross"

And in his meditation on the Thirteenth Station of the Cross Jesus is taken down from the Cross and given to his Mother (Jubilee Year 2000) Pope John Paul II prayed:

"That love [of Mary for Jesus] was revealed in the cave at Bethlehem  and was tested already during the Presentation in the Temple. It grew deeper as Mary stored and pondered in her heart all that was happening (cf. Lk 2:51).  
Now this intimate bond of love must be transformed into a union which transcends the boundary between life and death.  
And thus it will be across the span of the centuries: people pause at Michelangelo’s statue of the Pietà, they kneel before the image of the loving and sorrowful Mother (Smetna Dobrodziejka) in the Church of the Franciscans in Kraków, before the Mother of the Seven Sorrows, Patroness of Slovakia, they venerate Our Lady of Sorrows in countless shrines in every part of the world.  
And so they learn the difficult love which does not flee from suffering, but surrenders trustingly to the tenderness of God, for whom nothing is impossible (cf.Lk 1:37)."