Heaven’s Embrace

I have to say… I found this picture entirely by accident, and I am kind of in love.

It’s a picture of Jesus meeting His mother, Mary, and their greeting in heaven. Jesus greets her, clasping her hand with His right hand and holding the flag, symbolizing His triumphant resurrection with his left. She reaches out with her right hand to embrace Him while He seems speaks to her in earnest. All around them are angels that bow to them as they show each other love.

Just look at the tenderness and absolute beauty in this image!

Jesus Christ Receiving the Virgin in Heaven, by Jacques Stella, c. 17th century. Louvre Museum, Paris, France.

And here’s a close-up, if you want to have a slightly bigger picture!

Jesus Christ Receiving the Virgin in Heaven (detail), by Jacques Stella, c. 17th century. Louvre Museum, Paris, France.

There are lots of theories and speculation of what heaven looks like and what it would be like to enter into heaven, but I think this artwork perhaps touches what being received into heaven must really be like: to be completely surrounded by Christ’s love.

Mind you, Mary had a very, very difficult life before this encounter took place. There’s a reason why we meditate on Seven Sorrows of Mary, after all. While she experienced the joy of the Resurrection before she came into heaven, it was not before she beheld her dead son on the cross in His Passion. Yet, all of that melts away: Jesus is there, embracing her, talking to her, and she is in heaven.

And is that not what heaven really is?


Questions to Ponder:
  • What detail of the artwork did you notice first?
  • What do you think is going across both Jesus’s and Mary’s mind as this reunion takes place?
  • What do you imagine Jesus is saying to her?


Dear Jesus,

May You embrace and welcome us into heaven with such loving kindness.


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