Our Lady of Milk

One nice thing about the Christmas season is the visibility of the divine feminine in the person of the Virgin Mary, in contrast to the entirely male or abstract representations of the sacred during the rest of the liturgical year. Perhaps this partly explains why even non-Christians feel moved and comforted by the imagery of this season.

Feminists have mixed feelings about Mary nowadays, the criticism being that a woman shouldn’t have to be asexual to be holy. But the Holy Mother was not always portrayed in such a bloodless fashion. Medieval and folk art include luscious representations of her breastfeeding the baby Jesus, a sweet reminder that ours is an incarnational faith. The artwork below is one of 20 such images collected at the blog St. Peter’s List. Read additional reflections on this topic at Jesus in Love.

If my astute readers know of any Christmas carols or hymns that reference the Virgin Mary breastfeeding, please share them in the comments.

2 comments on “Our Lady of Milk

  1. Hank Rodgers says:

    Is it not “funny” how the “virgin” mother is pictured, and thought of? My guess is that, if asked, many, many people would say that Mary was a good, Catholic, virgin. She certainly usually looks very European too. Ah, our mythologies!

  2. Jendi Reiter says:

    She certainly does! Your insight reminds me of the recent flap about the Fox News anchor who said “Jesus was white”. For a more provocative envisioning of the subject, check out this article at The Other Journal, discussing African-influenced artist Chris Ofili’s “The Holy Virgin Mary”, which you may remember causing controversy a decade ago.

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