Isis had, as one of her Names, polyonumos (there ought to be a special term for words which help to validate themselves), and it occurs to me that manynamed appears to be true also of our blessed Lady, the Theotokos ... and I'm not just thinking of the Akathist Hymn or the Litany of Loretto.
I recall, a few decades ago, we put a statue of our Lady up in Lancing College Chapel. Somehow or other, somebody contrived that a little plaque was set into the side of the plinth explaining that This statue of the Madonna was given by etc..
I know Italians do refer to the Mother of God as La Madonna, but am I alone in finding the English phrase with the definite article a little odd?
My theory is that the usage carries a subliminal message of "This object is to be seen as merely an expression of a convention within Art History. On no account should you jump to the the conclusion that you should or might or could have a relationship with the person to whom this artefact relates."
Some readers will recall the Great Chesterton Compromise.
31 October 2018
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Odd? I thought it was standard practice, except when referring to pop stars.
Made me think of a line in the series Ballykissangel, where a painter is repainting the statue of Our Lady outside the church using a rather bright shade of red for the lips, and Father MacNally remarks "you do know which Madonna this statue is supposed to be a likeness of?". Unfortunately today many will identify the name with that other Madonna, another reason to avoid it.
It seems the modern Church does lean toward settling for the half loaf when it could easily have the whole, the Novus Ordo Mass being a prime example.
this reminds me of Belloc's poem "Ballade of Illegal Ornaments" which my friend Michael Baker has reproduced at www.superflumina.org/ballade-illegal-ornaments.html . Belloc wrote it in response to the the actions of the liberal Anglican bishop of Birmingham, Ernest Barnes.
I find it common in our secular culture to stumble over the name of the mother of Our Lord; I do so myself, probably like many other Catholics who grew up in a society where public expression of religious belief was not just taboo but non-existent.
Just Mary may come off as trite. Saint Mary would be acceptable if it were not such an understatement! But the Blessed Virgin Mary sounds awfully religious, almost as bad as the evangelical habit of professing dedication to "my Lord and Savior", sure to provoke a ripple of shock if not outright snickering. So: Madonna. Foreign yet familiar, it places religious belief within the context of a harmless cultural tradition.
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