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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God



El Greco (Doménikos Theotokópoulos) 1541 - 1614
Adoration of the Shepherds
1612- 1614
Oil on canvas
319 cm x 180 cm
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid

This is one of the artist`s last and most important works

It is the painting for his family`s funerary chapel in the  Church of the Convent of Santo Domingo el Antiguo in Toledo where he was eventually buried.

The work hung there until it was moved to its present position in the Prado

The first shepherd is probably a self portrait of the artist

It was in this Church where his first major Spanish commissions (between 1577 and 1579): the high altarpiece of The Asssumption of Mary; the Resurrection; Saint John the Baptist;   the Apostle John;  and The Trinity were situated

It is a work of contrasts: darkness and light.  Red-orange, yellow, green, blue and pink illuminate the darkness. The infant child is the source of illumination

Mother and child are centre of the work. Mary unwraps the child`s wrappings to reveal her son and the Mystery of the Incarnation

The result is surprise, astonishment and silent joy

Tomorrow is the Feast of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God formerly The Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Here we see the Theotokópoulos depicting Theotokos, the God-bearer with her Son

In Lux Veritatis (published significantly on 25 December 1931),  Pope Pius XI celebrated the 1500th anniversary of the Third Ecumenical Council held at Ephesus in 431. 

The use of Theotokos was formally affirmed at the Council. The competing view, advocated by Patriarch Nestorius of Constantinople, (with his followers "the Nestorians") was that Mary should be called Christotokos, meaning "Birth-giver of Christ," to restrict her role to the mother of Christ's humanity only and not his divine nature.

As well as celebrating Mary`s role as Theotokos, we also celebrate the Divinity of Christ, Christ as God made Man. "Theanthropos" (God-Man)

The work is perfectly suitable as a work for a funerary chapel. 

It looks forward to the Resurrection

"30. Moreover, this doctrine which has ever been handed down may be proved and con firmed, as all can see, from the dogma of man's Redemption. For how indeed could Christ be called "the firstborn among many brethren" (Romans viii. 29), or be wounded because of our iniquities (Isaias liii. 5; Matt. viii. 17), and redeem us from the servitude of sin, unless He had a human nature like as we have? And so, too, how could He make perfect satisfaction to the justice of the Heavenly Father which had been violated by mankind, unless He possessed an immense and infinite dignity by reason of His Divine Person?"