Mary, Mother of the Church
Our Lady, Mother of the Church
Image of Our Lady, Mother of the Church, is a gift from the Carmelites, Gort Mhuire, in the Parish of Balally.
Sculptor: Domhnall O Murchada (June 1985)
MOTHER OF SURE HOPE
IN ALL OUR MOMENTS OF DOUBT AND TRIAL,
GAIN FOR US THE GRACE EVER TO SERVE YOUR SON AS YOU DID,
WITH DEEP FAITH AND CALM COURAGE,
AND WITH A HEART UNTROUBLED BY DISTRUST IN HIM,
OR IN HIS EVERLASTING LOVE.
Madonna Carving for the Church of the Ascension of the Lord, Balally
. Mary, Mother of the Church
. The Virgin in Prayer, in the Magnificat “proclaims the glory of the Lord” in the name of the Church
. At the feast of Cana, she obtains an effect of grace, confirming our faith
. At Pentecost, (Acts 1:14) the young church joins in “continuous prayer together with …. Mary, the Mother of Jesus”.
. Like the Virgin in prayer, the Church presents to the Father the needs of her children, “praises the Lord unceasingly and intercedes for the salvation of the world” (Vatican II SC 83, AAS 1964 p. 21).
. “Mary is above all the example of that worship that consists of making one’s life an offering to God” (Marialis Cultus Part One, Section 11, 21).
The Visual Expression of Mary in Prayer with the Peoples of God.
To express visually “Mary’s mission in the mystery of the Church” we think of Church as the Family of God, the People of God – symbolised by the family, father, mother and children – protecting them under her outstretched cloak. The cloak itself has always been a symbol of protection. In speaking Irish, we are accustomed to the expression Brat Mhuire umat (May Mary’s cloak be around you). In medieval Europe, the idea of Mary’s protective Motherhood was expressed by many artists, in particular by the French artist Anguerrand Charonton (c.1410-1461)< by the great Italian painter Piero della Francesca (1410/20-1492) and by the Italian sculptor Bartolomneo Buon (1374-c.1467) whose Madonna with protective cloak outspread was known as the Madonna della Misericordia – Our Lady of Mercy – the Caring Madonna.
The “woman whose action helped to strengthen the apostolic community’s faith in Christ (Jn.2:1-12) and whose maternal role was extended and became universal on Calvary (Marialis Cultus Part II, Section 2,37)” is here shown leading Christians to commit themselves to a life in conformity with God’s will.
Mary prays for us and with us.
Such an idea could not be cut at random from a block of granite. The design had to be carefully thought out and planned as a series of ordered shapes. In other representations, Mary has been shown much larger than the figures beneath her cloak, but here at Balally she is kept in scale with the other figures, a more modern approach. But a suggestion of her traditional crown has been retained, as in Our Lady of Dublin and Our Lady of Knock. Here too she is accompanied by adoring angels, suggested in age-old fashion as winged heads. These cherub heads have an important bearing on the design, filling the top cornere and keeping the sense of a simple rectangle. The proportions of this rectangle, which are as 5 is to 8 (the harmonious division of a line of 13 units), is sometimes called the golden mean or the divine proportion. It was frequently used in medieval and in early Irish Christian art and architecture. The cloak of the Madinna on either side of her head is extended to give a 3:8 cross proportion and the arms of Mary hold the falling cloak in an arc constructed on the proportion of 10 units to 8.
The other elements of the design –the group of mother, father and children occupy a square from which the basic divine proportion of the carving is derived.
This preoccupation with the abstract, near-geometric basis of the design may seem strange today, in a world of much free emotional expression in the arts. But such a preoccupation underlies the art of Byzantium – the icons, for example – and Early Christian Europe.
I have tried to retain an iconic quality in this image and have refrained from any sort of photographic representation of details in the figures. I have tried to stress the unchanging elements in the religious images.
I pray that it may help the families of Balally to see Mary as the first Christian, protecting them and leading us all to Christ.