Friday, December 25, 2009

What Child Is This?

You've probably seen a little version of this Italian Baroque masterpiece on the top right corners of many an envelope this year. Every Christmas, the U.S. Postal Service releases fun collections of holiday stamps. They also issue a “traditional” holiday stamp that features the Madonna and Child, which has been an annual practice since 1978. This year, the traditional stamp featured this painting by Sassoferrato.

The first time I saw it, I had to stop and stare…

Mary tenderly cradles the Christ child in her arms, holding him with elegance and grace, softly resting her cheek on the top of his head while two sweet cherubs look down upon them with devotion. It’s a simple composition—there is no backround, only a few clouds that create a timeless, eternal setting. The Madonna and Child are not enthroned in a regal church or earthly landscape setting, not bogged down by big halos or golden crowns, not clothed in jewel-encrusted and fur-trimmed robes.

It’s the mystical, luminous, divine aura that shows us this is not a normal maternal scene. It is the serenity in Mary’s face, the peaceful sleep of the Christ child, and the mystical sense that he is not an ordinary baby that creates a captivating atmosphere; Mary knows that her son was not just given to her, but to all of humanity. The divine light that bathes the figures in this painting is such a beautiful illustration of the hope that the birth of Christ illuminates the world with on Christmas.

Jesus said to the people, "I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't be stumbling through the darnkess, because you will have the light that leads to life." John 8:12

May your Christmas be merry and bright.

1 comment:

Julie Hibbard said...

That's beautiful Lisa. I often find myself stumbling through the darkness and often forget to stop and marvel at those little things that truly make a big difference.
Thank you for helping me to see a little clearer today.
You are loved...