A Portrait of Mary You’ve Never Seen

The first time I saw this portrait of Mary at Chora church in Istanbul, I had no idea what to make of it. Questions flooded my mind: What did it mean? Was there any significance in it’s placement over the door exiting the church? And most confounding: Why was Jesus holding a baby swaddled in white? Who was the infant in the Savior’s arms?

Read More

Emotional Women: Grief Contained and Grief Exposed at Santa Maria della Vita

Mary Magdalene has a reputation for being emotional, if not unstable. Meanwhile Mary the mother of Jesus is usually depicted as supernaturally composed, her emotion perfectly contained beneath a serene expression. She’s not human; she’s all saint. Reflecting on a set of terracotta sculptures in Bologna and a Dorothy Sayer’s play, I consider how we can move from caricature to complexity in our understanding of these two women.

Read More

Gardener or God? An extraordinary case of mistaken identity

Gardening isn’t an activity I typically associate with Jesus. But when Mary first encountered Jesus outside the empty tomb, she supposed he was the gardener. Is this strange case of mistaken identity accidental, or is there symbolic meaning that we shouldn’t miss?

Read More