Thursday, March 03, 2011

Not The Virgin Mary

Daily Telegraph: Image of Virgin Mary spotted in Newquay cliff

It's very impressionist.

You know it's the lamp that makes me doubt*. I've spent hours of my life staring at pictures of the Virgin Mary and I've never seen her with a lamp. So what does the lamp symbolise? I find this which sounds plausible:

The lamp is most often used to represent the Word of God. It may also be used as a symbol of wisdom taken from the parable of the wise and foolish virgins in Matthew 25. The lamp was associated in the Old Testament with worship, where it symbolized God's presence (see Candlestick). A lamp can also represent life itself, or the Holy Spirit's indwelling.

I don't know - do you need that and her being pregnant? Seems overkill, and the non-iconographic won't get it anyway. Onwards: What saints have a lamp or lantern as their emblem? I get Saint Lucy and Saint Gudula. Hey remember Saint Lucy from the festival of lights?

Saint Gudula it seems was very religious woman in 7th century Flanders. She would go to church before dawn. A demon would put out her lantern but God would always re-light it for her.

So we're all good then? Not the Virgin Mary, but Saint Gudula or maybe Saint Lucy. Also she's not pregnant, that's a cushion up her robe for praying on.

(Why is it always the Virgin Mary? Every female figure! Also, from the way she's holding it the object looks more like a jug, but I've spent more time on this than it deserves already.)

* Also my scientific training and my middle name.