Vatican calls for more artwork showing Mary breastfeeding Jesus
recently announced that it wanted more breastfeeding pictures of the Virgin Mary and artists around the world have been working to respond.
Many paintings depicting the bare breasts of the Madonna had been censored by the modern age because they were too "unseemly", according to L'Osservatore Romano, the official newspaper of the Holy See. In 2008, the newspaper began running a series of articles calling for the restoration of these images.
Lucetta Scaraffia, a church historian, has called for the image of Mary as an human, tender and loving mother to be rehabilitated. She said: "Jesus was a baby like all others. His divinity does not exclude his humanity".
Father Enrico dal Covolo, a professor of classic and Christian literature at the Pontifical Salesian University wrote in another article, "The Virgin Mary who nurses her son Jesus is one of the most eloquent signs that the word of God truly and undoubtedly became flesh".
Historians say there were paintings of a breastfeeding Virgin Mary in the early years of Christianity but the coming of the conservatives diminished the production of such images. L'Osservatore Romano reports that beginning in the 17th century, artists began covering up Mary because of criticism about the "carnality and unbecoming nature of many sacred images."
Now people around the world are working to change that.
One work in progress is a sculpture showing a full-breasted Virgin Mary in the act of feeding the Baby Jesus. It was commissioned by two breastfeeding experts, Dr. Elvira Henares-Esguerra, director of Children for Breastfeeding and a fellow of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, and Nona Andaya-Castillo, international board-certified lactation consultant.
The sculpture is expected to be completed next year and will show a “humanized” Mary looking lovingly at the Baby Jesus as she feeds him, in the proper, “full latch” breastfeeding position.
Castillo says the image is meant not only to inspire, but also to teach mothers the proper way of holding their babies while breastfeeding.
They plan to bring the sculpture to the Pope for his blessing.
Dr. Esguerra says, “We’re responding to the Vatican’s call." She adds that it’s time to resurrect the image of Mary breastfeeding her Child to teach people that there is nothing obscene about the act.
“If breastfeeding was good enough for Baby Jesus, it’s good enough for our babies,” Dr. Esguerra says.