The VIRGIN OF MERCY is a subject in Christian Art, showing a group of people sheltering for protection under the outspread cloak of the Virgin Mary. It was especially popular in Italy from the 13th to 16th centuries and is also found in other countries and later art, especially Catalonia and Latin America. In Italian it is known as the Madonna della Misericordia (Madonna of Mercy), in German as the Schutzmantelmadonna (Sheltering-cloak Madonna), in Spanish Virgen de la Merced or Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes (Our Lady of Mercy), in French as the Vièrge au Manteauor Vierge de Miséricorde (Virgin with a cloak or Virgin of Mercy) and in Catalan as the Mare de Déu de la Mercè.
Usually the Virgin is standing alone, though if angels hold up the cloak, she is free to hold the infant Christ. The people sheltered normally kneel, and are shown usually at a much smaller scale. These may represent all members of Christian society, royalty with crowns, mitres and even a papal tiara of a pope. The subject was often commissioned by specific groups such as families, monasteries and abbeys or guilds.
|Virgin with 3 Sts.- Maurico Garcia, 1750|
The figures represent these specific groups, as shown by their dress, or by the 15th century individual portraits. The Franciscans were major in spreading this form of iconography. While this image of Mary was highly used in past ages, it is still seen in modern times (Alves) and perhaps would be a worthy subject in our world so in need of the Virgin's protection!
The liturgical feast day of Our Lady of Mercy is celebrated on September 24.
Blessed Virgin Mary, who can worthily repay you with praise and thanks for having rescued a fallen world by your generous consent! Receive our gratitude, and by your prayers obtain the pardon of our sins. Take our prayers into the sanctuary of heaven and enable them to make our peace with God.
|D. Ghirlandaio- Italy 15th C.|
|Fernando Alves- Brazil|