This week, not one, but two people sent me images for this blog. It made me happy that some people think of me when they see art. Then I realized this means that people see drawings of semi-nude women and butt jokes and think “Oh yeah, that’ll be up her alley.” But I digress.
This week we look at depictions of St. Bernard’s vision of Mary. I was unaware of this story, but having now looked into it apparently it was quite a popular vignette in paintings. The story goes that St. Bernard was praying before a statue of the Virgin Mary, and he asked her to “show herself to be a mother.” The statue then came to life, gave the breasticle a bit of a squeeze, and shot virgin-milk directly into his mouth. Apparently this was supposed to represent either the gift of life, or the “wisdom of God.”
So without further ado, here is the painting that got the ball rolling here. I can’t find the artist, but “La Vision de San Bernardo de Claraval” appears at the Museo Palacio Arzobispal de Lima.
Looks like your typical man holding a Roman torture implement to kneel before a woman surrounded by winged and un-winged babies. But upon closer inspection…
Really she’s got pretty good range. Baby Jesus is standing there going, “Well, I guess I can share. It’s better direct from the source, though.”
Sometimes Mary’s aim is less good (or precise).
Although that’s probably what I would do if someone asked me to prove myself a mother by breastfeeding them. In your EYE, disbeliever!
Of course, there are simpler ways of getting at those who question you. Here Bernard looks like he might be in the middle of a stroke and about to drown in a stream of fresh milk.
Sometimes the scene doesn’t show the milk-bestowal proper, instead showing him trying to persuade Mary to just let him have a bit of her sweet, sweet baby food.
Here there’s the bonus of baby angels everywhere, including Mary standing on baby angel heads.
Then there’s this one, where he’s not so much ready for a drink, as he looks like he might burn a hole in her breast with his Intense Stare.
I’m not so sure it’s “proof of motherhood” he’s looking for there….
I leave you with perhaps the most famous image, by Alonzo Cano.