Yesterday, a week after the celebration of the Assumption, was the celebration of Mary, the Queen of Heaven! So, in honor of that, I’d figure I would post an intriguing pair of paintings by William-Adolphe Bouguereau that feature the Virgin Mary and Christ together — but in completely different circumstances.
The first painting is his Pieta, which features a haunting picture of Mary, in her role of Our Lady of Sorrows. She her son, Jesus tightly in her lap with angels surrounding her, and looks out at us, just like so many pictures as Madonna with Child. But there’s a problem — Jesus is dead. He sprawls across her lap, his head lolled back, the Crown of Thorns on the floor. And Mary sits there, her expression is tormented, her tearful eyes focused on us, as if to ask us why.
The second picture is very much like this picture in many different ways. Mary is holding Christ tightly, wearing similar clothes. Angels surround her. But, this time, Christ is alive, reborn again as the Christ child, and all is bathed in Heavenly glory. The angels, no longer in common clothes, are dressed in white gowns, embroidered with gold. Mary’s clothes are also now embroidered in gold, for she has been crowned queen, and stars surround her head to announce her queenship. Her eyes are turned down, but she is looking at Christ. And this time, Christ looks at us directly, with an unfathomable expression. His hands are outstretched and His right hand is held up in a sign of blessing or benediction, with two fingers and a thumb up and two fingers down.
Anyway, to honor this special day… let’s pray a very old prayer, the Salve Regina, or Hail Holy Queen!
Salve, Regina, mater misericordiae;
vita, dulcedo et spes nostra, salve.
Ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevae.
Ad te suspiramus gementes et flentes
in hac lacrimarum valle.
Eia ergo, advocata nostra,
illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte.
Et Iesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens, o pia, o dulcis Virgo Maria.
V. Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei Genitrix.
R. Ut digni efficamur promissionibus Christi.
Oremus. Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui gloriosae Virginis Matris Mariae corpus et animam, ut dignum Filii tui habitaculum effici mereretur, Spiritu Sancto cooperante, praeparasti, da, ut cuius commemoratione laetamur; eius pia intercessione, ab instantibus malis et a morte perpetua liberemur. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee to we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray. Almighty and everlasting God, Who by the working of the Holy Spirit didst prepare both body and soul of the glorious Virgin Mother, Mary, that she might deserve to be made a worthy dwelling for Thy Son, grant that we who rejoice in her memory, may, by her loving intercession, be delivered from present evils and from lasting death, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.