Marie du jour 2021, May 25: St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi

He descended into you, and the Holy Spirit formed and ordered the beautiful body of the Word, so small as it was. Nevertheless, that Word was and is so great the heaven cannot contain Him; yet he wished to be contained in the small womb of the little Virgin! But what creature has ever been able to understand Your grandeur, O Word? Those beautiful little eyes, which constantly saw that union which exists between the Father and the Holy Spirit, and the Word Himself existing in the union, what creature could ever comprehend their beauty? I see You at the same time so little, little in the womb of Mary, and on the cross.

Please tell me, O Word, where did You stay more willingly, on the cross or in the womb of Mary? The cross was planted on a dreadful mountain, in earth that was arid, dry and sterile; and the womb of Mary was that so joyous, pleasing, blessed and fruitful earth which was to produce You, the fruit of life. You were naked in the womb of Mary, and naked on the cross. In the womb of Mary Your face was more resplendent than the sun; on the cross You no longer had beauty or comeliness. Remaining in the bosom of the Father, You aspired to the womb of Mary; and remaining in the womb of Mary, you aspired to the cross! Mary clothed You in the garment of humanity; they (those who mocked Jesus) clothed You in a white robe, in mockery, making Your innocence manifest in spite of themselves. Mary veiled Your divinity; and they veiled your resplendent face! Mary melted in looking at Your beautiful face; and they deformed it with their fetid spitting.

Saint Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi

The Probation, I

Also known as the Cestello Annunciation
Sandro Botticelli (Florence, 14451–510)
Tempera on wood, 1489–1490
Uffizi Galleries, Florence

Featured image: Photographer Elias Rovielo captured this photo of the Cestello Annunciation during his 2017 visit to the Uffizi Galleries. The Uffizi gallery label tells us more about the artwork:

This panel was commissioned from Sandro Botticelli in 1489 by Florentine moneychanger, Benedetto di ser Francesco Guardi for the family chapel in the church of Santa Maria Maddalena, in borgo Pinti, Florence. The essential nature of the scene, almost bare of furnishings, the sober clothing of the archangel Gabriel and Mary, featuring a limited use of colour tones and decorations, the accentuated, almost theatrical gestures of the subjects, reflect the search for simplicity and the religious fervor that had become established in the sermons of Dominican monk, Girolamo Savonarola. There are some of the usual elements of Marian symbolism, such as the opening in the wall that suggests a door of heaven to Mary, and the walled garden visible in the background, an emblem of Mary’s virginity.  The painting has its original frame, painted at the bottom with the emblems of the customer and the figure of Christ in pietà. There are also two inscriptions in Latin, taken from the Gospel of St Luke, alluding to the incarnation of God’s son in Mary’s womb.

The inscription at the base of the frame on the left reads: SPIRITUS SANCTUS SUPERVENIET IN TE ET VIRTUS ALTISSIMI OBUMBRABIT TIBI (Luke 1:35). On the right, the inscription states: ECCE ANCILLA DOMINI FIAT MICHI SECUNDUM VERBUM TUUM (Luke 1:38).

Photo credit: Elias Rovielo (Some rights reserved)

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