The Soul of the Virgin Mary


Not on view

The popular devotional subject known as the "Soul of Mary" visualizes the inner presence of the Holy Spirit and emphasizes the Virgin’s participation in the mystery of the incarnation. Mary is represented half-length, holding the infant Christ in her arms, with the dove of the Holy Spirit over her heart. Surrounded by luminous clouds and haloed by cherubim, Mary’s upturned gaze is that of a soul in ecstasy. Her head is encircled by an inscription that includes the Christogram, IHS, and an intercessory invocation: For Mary, with Mary and in Mary. In the foreground, a pair of winged putti present a cartouche inscribed with the prayer: Bless the Lord, O my soul and let all that is within me bless his holy name. The painting would have functioned as an aid to individual prayer and contemplation.

The Soul of the Virgin Mary, Unknown artist, Peru (Cuzco), 18th century, Oil and gold on canvas, Peru (Cuzco)

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