As of this writing I am halfway through preparation of Marian consecration and boy are my will, intellect, and passions tired!
Eh? Get it? It’s funny because Aquinas—never mind.
But no seriously, the past two weeks have been the interior version of basic training. Except instead of your body doing one-arm pushups while a sweaty, red-faced drill sergeant yells at you, it’s your soul doing them and the literal Queen of the Universe is quietly but firmly reminding you of Christ’s Passion and Death the whole time. As much as we make over the sweet and placid images of Mary (which are totally valid and beautiful and true), Marian consecration has shown me an entirely different side of Our Lady. A no-prisoners-taking, sword-swinging, serpent-crushing side that honestly I identify with much more deeply than the infant-swaddling, lullaby-singing side (and it’s totally okay if you’re more down with the latter). Sure, she doles out consolations aplenty, but she also calls us to repentance–which can get real ugly real fast, especially if we resist and harden our hearts. We often forget that, though Mary was literally the most faithful human being who lived aside from Jesus, and known for her meekness, girl went through some stuff. And that’s part of who she is, too.
At first I was a little dismayed, because I couldn’t seem to find any traditional images of these aspects of the Blessed Mother. I began to think that none existed. Ohhh was I wrong. Here are some images that prove the Mother of God isn’t just a sweet face, but a stone cold lioness who will not hesitate to wreck stuff if she has to.
1. The Woman Clothed With the Sun (or, That Time You Know the Demons Yelled “OH @!#% SHE CAN FLY.”)
This is a medieval depiction of that line from Revelation 12 we all know, of “the woman clothed with the sun” who appears in the heavens and wins the prize for literally the worst birth story in history, past, present, and future, when she gets attacked by a seven-headed dragon while in labor. Luckily she was “snatched up to God” (which, in this depiction, evidently means “flew away on her magnificent and terrifying apocalypse wings because ain’t nobody got time for that”), St. Michael showed up, and the dragon was a few heads short of a full abomination by the time all was said and done.
William Blake’s depiction is a shade more dramatic, because William Blake. Mary’s wings (WINGS, YOU GUYS) are now made of what I can only speculate is literal sun-fire, there’s lightning because reasons, and she is looking directly into the be-tentacled face of a Lovecraftian horror with a posture that’s less terror and more “can you please NOT while I’m having contractions?” Hail Mary, Mother of God and Pinnacle of #momgoals
2. Our Lady of La Salette (or, Pretty Sure Our Lady Is Also an Elven Warrior Maiden, Probably Kicked Morgoth in the Shins)
Our Lady of La Salette was one of a string of 19th Century French apparitions of Our Lady in which she basically told two bewildered Alpine shepherd children “My Son has noticed no one here is going to Mass. Like literally no one but that crazy old lady whose drawing room always smells like cough medicine and socks. You know, Ireland’s got some real nice potatoes. And Marseille is so lovely this time of year. It would be a shame is something were to…happen to them.” According to the children, her message wasn’t nearly so alarming as her actual appearance. When she showed up on top of the mountain, she was weeping “as though her heart were breaking.” When she stood up, the seers were immediately arrested by her strange manner of dress. She was covered in chains, and had on what I am going to describe as the war-helm of an ancient Elven princess. Seriously look at that thing. Look. At. It.
Our Lady, rocking the Queen of Thorns look while calling 19th century Europe to radical repentance. Get it, girl.
3. The Unburnt Theotokos (or, Mary of the House of David, Queen of the Universe and the Angels, Star of the Sea, The Unburnt, The Mother of God)
We’re going Eastern for this one. Are you ready?
That’s the Theotokos of The Unburnt Bush, or just The Unburnt Theotokos. Somewhere along the line of tradition, it occurred to various artists and theologians that Mary was and is, in a sense, a type of the burning bush that Moses encountered way back in Exodus. She is touched and filled with the fire of God’s divinity in its fullness, yet unconsumed by it, and the Word of God comes into the world through her. She is the unburnt, and the breaker of chains. She’s basically the khaleesi of the entire universe, is what I’m saying.
4. All those times Mary either stabbed or beat the daylights out of raging hell-beasts
Don’t let the big doe eyes and sweet face fool you…
…Mary will wreck stuff. Especially if it’s a demon-monster.
Like, you may be cool, but you will never be star-crowned Mary standing on the moon stabbing a demon-serpent through the skull with a cross-shaped spear cool.
Pictured: The Mother of God having no time for the games
Look at her face. She ain’t even bothered tho.
Then there’s this statue:
Yes, that is, in fact, Our Lady IN ARMOR urging Joan of Arc to swing her sword. Someone call Jerry Bruckheimer, because a Joan of Arc biopic including a training montage with Our Lady and a Kenny Loggins soundtrack desperately needs to happen. This is the faith-based movie the Catholic Church deserves.