Friday, 8 December 2017

December 8: The Madonna of the Sun and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Harley's Ninth - illustrated by Philippe Lardy
(Venice, Italy) When I created the teen-age protagonist, Harley Columba, in my first novel,  Harley, Like a Person, I wanted her to have a deep connection to John Lennon, so I made her birthday the same day that John Lennon was assassinated, December 8th. At that time, I had no idea what  the significance of that day was in terms of Christian history, nor in the history of many other religions.

In my second novel, Harley's Ninth, Harley, who is an artist, has an idea for a goddess of her own creation, and decides to capture her idea in a sketch for an oil painting. She calls her goddess, The Madonna of the Sun. I think Philippe Lardy, a Swiss artist who lives in Paris, and who illustrated the cover, caught the image beautifully. From Harley's Ninth:
I flip open my sketch pad and take a piece of charcoal out of its case. I prop my sketch pad on the ledge of the building. I sketch a woman reclining in the hollow of a mountaintop. Her hair is long, and shaped as if it is the veil of the Virgin Mary. She has wings, Indian-feather wings. The bottom half of her body is nude. Her knees are bent up in the air. Her feet are bare -- with spindly, elegant toes like fingers and semi-circular arches. Suspended between her thighs is a glowing sun; yellow beams shoot out between her legs and into the atmosphere. Inside her womb is a golden egg. The woman's eyes look sideways, right at the viewer. Her eyes are mysterious and wise. There is a tiny smile on her lips, serene and confident. I will call my painting The Madonna of the Sun.
Meeting at the Golden Gate by Giotto (section) - 1305
Years later, after moving to Venice, I learned that December 8th is a national holiday here in Italy, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It is one of the most important Marian feast days in the Roman Catholic Church, and is celebrated world-wide. It celebrates the day that Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, was conceived.

Some scholars think that the great artist Giotto di Bondone captured the moment of the Immaculate Conception in his Meeting at the Golden Gate, when Mary's parents; Joachim and Anne, who were long-married but childless, first met each other after receiving the news from an angel that they would have a child who would grow up to be the mother of God. You can read more about the moment in a post I wrote about Giotto:

The Most Powerful Kiss in Art: Do you know what MAGISTER GIOTTO in Venice is? 

 


These days, with so many women speaking out against those that abuse their power, and with Time Magazine naming their Person of the Year: "The Silence Breakers -- The Voices that Launched a Movement," I hope that the creative female energy will finally have her moment in the Sun.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

1 comment:

  1. With so many women speaking out against those that abuse their power, I hope that the creative female energy will finally have her moment in the Sun.

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