Yesterday I had the pleasure to present my second ever conference paper at “Mary at the Beginning of Third Millennium” – a conference on Mariology convened in honour of the tenth anniversary of the University of Notre Dame, Sydney. The conference featured a compelling array of papers on the Marian tradition in the fields of theology and philosophy… plus this novice’s historical contribution. The abstracts for the papers can be found here.
My paper was entitled “The Madonna della Misericordia – An Image for the 14th, 15th and 21st Centuries” and fortunately for my ego the turn out was great (it was a Saturday after all).
In summation, I looked at the image of the Madonna della Misericordia – an image popular in the post-plague art of the Italian peninsula – which depicts the Virgin Mary as a protector and intercessor for human beings, an image that perhaps would have inspired hope and devotion to those affected by the ravages of the Black Death. Despite the Madonna della Misericordia being an image for the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, I opened it up to discussion whether the image and its concept is relevant to the twenty-first century, in light of current discussions on the Virgin given by St. John Paul II and Pope Francis I. The paper, in its unembellished form and with images and a bibliography, can been downloaded here.
The answer was an unanimous “yes” with many attendees resonating with the themes of intercession and maternal love present in this image of the Virgin.