Chiusdino, Italy - Madonna Statue (Abbazia di San Galgano); Clinton, MA - Private Mary Shrine

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Title

Chiusdino, Italy - Madonna Statue (Abbazia di San Galgano); Clinton, MA - Private Mary Shrine

Catalog Entry

In the image of the Madonna and the lily, the image is focused on the flower, and you can see the blurry outline of Madonna in the background. This image reflects and represents the story of Judith in many ways. Judith is described as “brilliant” and “radiant” (‍118), ‍meaning she is ‍beyond beautiful. The story also depicts Judith as extremely “wise” and “holy” (119). Judith becomes a female ‍heroine ‍in the story because her action to save her people was in the name of God. She wanted to rid her people of ‍the leader of the Assyrian ‍army Holofernes' ‍power over and killing of the Hebrew people. Holofernes was an “evil doer…[and] a cruel prince, oppressing men…” (119). Judith’s goal is essentially to save her people. She devises a plan to get into Holofernes' room and decapitate him. Judith left the Assyrians leaderless, and they were ultimately defeated. Judith committed those actions under God and in order to save the Hebrews from being killed, and throughout this story she remains a female heroine‍. The focus of the photo is on the beautiful lily and viewers may overlook the Madonna in the background, just as Judith was hidden behind her beauty. She is seen only for her looks and not for her power and faith in God, and this image shows how the Madonna and Judith have more aspects in common than most people may think. This image can be connected to Judith because although she does represent beauty, like the lily, but she also represents the holiness and strength of the Madonna.

The Virgin Mary shrine connects to both the image of Madonna and the lily as well as the story of Judith. Madonna is another name for the Virgin Mary, mother of God. The Virgin Mary statue in Clinton is enclosed in a structure to protect and preserve the condition for years to come. However, the shrine is evidently weathered. The outward appearance of the Virgin Mary connects with Judith because they are viewed and judged based on what they look like from the outside. The weathered shrine, because of its appearance, makes many people overlook such a beautiful representation of the Virgin Mary. Unfortunately, people will see the outward appearance and care little about the old, falling apart statue. However, until viewers realize that it represents a woman who was exponentially holy and possessed a beautiful spirit in the name of God, then they will not truly understand how these images and the story connect. This is similar to how viewers may only view the beautiful flower in the Madonna and the lily image. It is important to view every aspect of an image in order to realize that details may be hidden in the background or underneath weathered statues. Lastly, the shrine is covered and protected by a structure that houses the Virgin Mary. Judith uses her faith and love of God to defeat her enemies. She prayed and worshipped to him daily and that gave her strength. The structure surrounding and covering the Virgin Mary shrine can be viewed as God’s love and support protecting and keeping her safe.

Author and speaker Matt Fradd explains how Mary, the Madonna and Judith might have more than being holy and powerful maidens of the Lord. Fradd explains how “each crushed the head of the enemy king” (Fradd). Judith beheaded Holofernes and saved the Hebrew people, and apparently Mary crushed the head of Satan, although some speculate this is inaccurate and false because only God could possibly eliminate Satan. However, Fradd explains its possibility by stating, "it is precisely because of her unique role in salvation history that we can say of [Mary], in a way that we can’t of others, that the God of peace crushed Satan under her feet” (Fradd). Furthermore, the images and the text depict the presence of God protecting and supporting Judith, the Madonna, and the Virgin Mary. Benedikt Otzen compares Judith to the Old Testament. He focuses on the theme that "Judith is the struggle between the God of Israel and the heathen king usurping the place of God” (Otzen 101). He focuses much on the religious aspect of the story and how Judith was successfully heroic due to her faith in God. Once viewers realize that the images contain representations of Mary, it makes it easier to understand how God clearly connects these powerful women.

Bibliography

Black, Joseph, et al, eds. The Broadview Anthology of British Literature: The Medieval Period, Volume 1. 3rd ed., Broadview, 2015.

Fradd, Matt. What do Jael, Judith, and Mary Have in Common. Apologetics. mattfradd.com/what-do-jael-judith-and-mary-have-in-common/. 

Otzen, Benedikt. Tobit and Judith. Sheffield Academic Press, 2002.

Photographer(s)

Kisha G. Tracy
Hannah Geiger, Student, Fitchburg State University

Catalog Entry Author(s)

Tatyana D'Agostino, Student, Fitchburg State University

Research Assistant(s)

Aaron Canterbury, Student, Fitchburg State University

Citation

“Chiusdino, Italy - Madonna Statue (Abbazia di San Galgano); Clinton, MA - Private Mary Shrine,” Transforming Perceptions of Cultural Heritage through Image, accessed February 25, 2018, http://culturalheritagethroughimage.omeka.net/items/show/24.

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