Virgin of the Immaculate Conception with St. Andrews and John the Baptist
Title: Virgin of the Immaculate Conception with St. Andrews and John the Baptist
Artist: Juan de Valdes Leal
Location: The Louvre, Paris
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Dimensions: 234×167 cm
Most people think the immaculate conception refers to Jesus Christ, but in actuality, it refers to the Virgin Mary. It is stated in the Roman Catholic doctrine that Mary was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus Christ and to be one of very few people ever to be born without original sin. In other words, the immaculate conception means that Mary was protected from original sin. However, the bible never specifically says anything about Mary being sinless; all it talks about is her motherhood towards Jesus. The only reason why we believe Mary was immaculate was because it only makes sense to say that Jesus was born without sin from a sinless person. That was the huge confusion between it all. How can Jesus be free of sin if He was born from a sinless person? Therefore, the Catholic church is under the impression that Mary had to be immaculate as well. According to the bible, Mary was a regular woman just like all of us except she was a virgin when she had Jesus. God chose her for a reason.
On December 8th or 9th (depending what part of the country one lives) of every year, the Immaculate Conception of Mary is celebrated by the Roman Catholic church. Known as The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, it is celebrated with parades, cultural festivities, and, of course, mass. It began in the 7th century in the east and has spread since then to countries in Europe, South America, and in the United States. For a while, there was an uproar of whether their should be a holiday because some believe that Mary was not immaculate. In the 19th century, the council of Basle set forth the idea that it was simply a Catholic belief.
As seen in the title of the painting, St. John the Baptist and St. Andrews is accompanying Mary. St John the Baptist was said to be the one who baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. They are second cousins because St. John’s mother, Elizabeth, was cousins with St. Anne, Mary’s mother. The bible prophesized that St. John would be the one to prepare the way for Jesus’ arrival, as said in Luke 1:76. In the painting, St John is holding a cross which symbolizes the foreshadowing of Jesus’ death. St. Andrews is on the right side of the painting because he was an Apostle of Jesus. This again is a foreshadowing that St. Andrew’s will be called by Jesus to be his apostle in the future. Both St John and St Andrew play an important role in the painting because they have a purpose for being a part of Jesus’ life. Angels are also included in The Immaculate Conception as playing musical instruments and holding flowers: a rose and a lily. A rose is symbolically important because it represents time and Christ whereas a lily is symbolic for virgins. Humans cannot control time; therefore, it is inevitable that death is approaching and there will be the entering of a new world. The angel holding the lily will be a representation of the Virgin Mary who gives birth to Jesus.
Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Immaculate Conception. 2012.
Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. St. Andrew. 2012
GotQuestions.org. What is the Immaculate Conception. 2002.
Catholic Online. St. John the Baptist. 2012.