The Virgin Mary in the Perceptions of Women

Mother, Protector and Queen Since the Middle Ages


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About the Book

Once, the Virgin Mary was a pivotal element of Christianity, a holy figure at the heart of most Christians’ spiritual lives. She was invoked at all major life passages—baptisms, weddings, childbirths, and funerals—and images of the Virgin Mary could be found virtually anywhere, from pub signs to sacred texts. Medieval women especially looked to Mary to answer their prayers, be their role model, and serve as their advocate in heaven. They prayed to her several times a day and sometimes devoted their entire lives to her service.
This book investigates perceptions of the Virgin Mary through several centuries of literature. Focusing especially on the depictions of the Virgin Mary in medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, the author rediscovers a time when the Divine Female was very much in evidence, and good Christian women were taught to pray to a Holy Mother. Topics include the cyclical popularity of Virgin Mary; devotional objects such as Books of Hours, rosaries, and Marian gardens; the mystical qualities attributed to the Virgin Mary through centuries of reported divine visions; the historical relationships between the Virgin Mary and other religious figures, including the Devil; and Mary Magdalene as an alternative to the Virgin Mary as a feminine model.

About the Author(s)

Joelle Mellon is a librarian at an Episcopalian school in Maryland. She lives in Silver Spring and her work appears regularly in Faerie Magazine.

Bibliographic Details

Joelle Mellon
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 219
Bibliographic Info: 30 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3502-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2068-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vi

Preface      1

1. Explorations: Why Mary Was Lost      5

2. Beginnings: Mary in the Bible      23

3. Devotional Objects: I Carry Her with Me Always      36

4. Marian Places: The Virgin at Home and Abroad      61

5. Marian Times: Days, Months and Life Passages      81

6. Context: Relationships with St. Anne, St. Joseph, Eve, and the Devil      97

7. The Virgin’s Virgins: Nuns and Mary      115

8. Mystics and Miracles: Touched by the Virgin’s Hand      132

9. Transformations: From Pagan to Christian to the Uncertain Future of Mary      154

10. Two Marys: The Virgin and the (Repentant) Whore      169

Chapter Notes      185

Bibliography      201

Index      209

Book Reviews & Awards

“contains in-depth information about medieval and Renaissance life”—Renaissance Magazine.