As the sun sets, devotees gather to pray to Virgin Mary hoping for a message or a miracle. Some of them come to give thanks because they had made a promise to Mary, and She had answered their prayer.
Virgin Mary is the world’s most depicted woman. Her powers are invoked for anything and everything: by the sick in search of a cure and quarterbacks hoping for a Hail Mary pass to win the game, by mothers who feel a special kinship with Her, and by truckers whose dashboards are adorned with Mary statuettes, seeking safe travels.
Devotees from different cultures and places share a common belief that Mary stands up for them, approves of them, and watches out for them. They see that Mary is more accessible than Jesus, less threatening, always on people’s side.
Praying for the Virgin Mary’s intercession and being devoted to her are a global phenomenon. As a universal symbol of maternal love, as well as suffering and sacrifice, Mary is often the touchstone of our longing for meaning, a more accessible link to the supernature than formal church teachings. Her mantle offers both security and protection. Mary inspired the creation of many great works of art and architecture, as well as poetry and music. And, She is the spiritual confidante of billions of people, no matter how isolated or forgotten.
The Gospels tell how an angel visited Mary and told Her that She would have a child through the intervention of the Holy Spirit. As the mother of Jesus, Mary therefore became the most revered of all the Christian saints.
Because so little is known of Mary from Scripture, you can project on Her whatever cultural values you have. She can be the grieving mother, the young virgin, or the goddess figure.
From the many paths of Mary, we learned that She has often appeared to people in crisis zones, seeking to warn of danger or to serve as a symbol of healing. And, anyone suspected of trying to gain fame or riches from contact of the Virgin is ignored or condemned.
Lourdes, at the foot of the Pyrenees in southwestern France, is the Virgin’s most famous pilgrimage site. This miracle place attracts six million visitors a year, and it has a space for 25,000 worshippers in the giant underground basilica. The nearby Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes and “Miraculous Water” attract thousands daily.
It seems that Lourdes really helps the visitors look at themselves spiritually. Nowadays everything is always rushing by so fast. We are overwhelmed by media and caught up in the day-to-day. We need to take time to look at the importance of “non-material things” and to strengthen our spirituality, such as praying to God, Virgin Mary, or practicing the mindful meditation, etc. (04/11/2016)
(Sources: 1. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, Dec. 2015, “The World’s Most Powerful Woman” by Maureen Orth and Diana Markosian. 2. RELIGIONS, 2008, by Philip Wilkinson)
The following images are my paintings of Virgin Mary. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE.
(Spring Liao, 04/11/2016)