Gallery of images of Mary in priestly vestments. Gallery of Images

Gallery of images of Mary in priestly vestments

Gallery of Images, no 2

After the 11th century Mary was frequently represented in the liturgical vestments worn by bishops or priests when celebrating the Eucharist.

This form of representation was, perhaps, related to a verse in Psalm 45, verses 10-17 of which were frequently applied to Mary in the liturgy. ‘All the glory of the king’s daughter is within in golden borders, clothed round about with various apparel’ ( Ps 44,14-15 according to the Vulgate; = Ps 45,14-15]. The text was interpreted as referring to Mary’s priestly vestments. See, for instance, Francesco Pepe.

The images are presented in chronological order.

Painting from Gengenbach, Germany

1. Illuminated page from Gengenbach/Baden Evangelistery (Landesbibliothek, Stuttgart), Germany, dated ca. 1150 AD.

The Angel Gabriel appears to Mary who is dressed in priestly vestments. In tradition, theologians often remark on the fact that Mary’s response: “Let it be done to me according to your word”, caused the Incarnation to take place, and so her words made Christ present, just as the priest’s words of consecration make Christ present in the Eucharist. See St. Antoninus of Florence OP, J. Duvergier de Hauranne and Bishop J.Nazlian.

Credit. For a larger size picture (200 KB), please click here or on the smaller image.


Click here to enlarge!

2. Illustration in the Frowinus Bible, 12th century.

An illustrated copy of the Bible was commissioned by the Abbot Frowinus (died in 1178 AD). On the title page we see the abbot on his knees before the Virgin Mary to dedicate the manuscript to her. Notice that Mary is wearing a chasuble covered in crosses (like the abbot has) and that she has a bsihop’s mitre on her head.

An interesting detail, only visible on the enlarged picture, is that the child Jesus on her arm holds out a staff that blossoms. Clearly the illustrator referred here to the fact that Mary is called Aaron’s staff by the Fathers of the Church. Aaron’s staff blossomed to prove his priestly status (Numbers 17,16-26).

Credit. The original image is in Bibles du monastère, Engelberg, cod. 4. Bible de Frowinus en 3 volumes. This reproduction can be found in Le Triomphe de la Vierge-Église by Marie-Louise Thérel, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris 1984, fig. 86. For a larger size picture (120 Kb), please click here or on the smaller image.


Mosaic in Barcelona, Spain

3. Apse over an altar from the Church of Santa María de Táhull, Barcelona in Spain, 13th century.

Note. Mary, wearing a chasuble, is sitting on her throne, the way a bishop would sit on his throne in the apse. On her lap she holds Jesus, the centre of the Eucharist.

Credit. The image can be found in Romanesque Paintingby Juan Armand, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, New York 1963, p. 113; original image from the Museum of Catalonian art. For a larger size picture (230 Kb), please click here or on the smaller image.


Mary as priest, Amiens, France

4. Painting ‘Le sacerdoce de la Vierge’ (close up), early 15th century, school of Amiens, France.

Note. Our Lady, wearing a classic chasuble and stole, stands at the altar, presumably ready to distribute holy communion. She seems to hold a paten in her right hand, and with her left she holds the hand of the child Jesus.

The kneeling figure before her represents the donor of the painting, master of the confrérerie du Puy de Notre Dame d'Amiens, a semi-learned society active in that town from ca.1350 to the Revolution. Every year a poetry competition was held on a theme relating to the Virgin, and the society then elected its master for the year, who, a his own expense commissioned a painting (and lavish frame) to illustrate the theme of the years winning poem

In the year 1438, the Maître du Puy was one Jehan du Bos, "marchand mercier" (ie: wholesale haberdasher)--the confrererie was a high-bourgeois society--and it is he whom one sees with a "bowl-cut" hairdo (this was the fashion of the time and does not indicate any religious affiliation!) kneeling before the Virgin and Child.

Credits. The reproduction is from Le Livre de la Vierge, ed. Bertrand Guégan, Arts et Métiers Graphiques, Paris 1961, p. 35. The original is in the Louvre at Paris. We have various enlargements for you, if you are interested:
(a) a larger size copy of the same close up (250 Kb). Click here or on the smaller picture.
(b) a larger size copy of the whole picture, showing the Church in which Mary forms the centre (262 Kb). Click here!


Mary, Virgin Priest

5. Traditional image, presumably of ‘Mary Priest’. Artist or origin unknown to me. (Can anyone help?)


Mary as bishop,in the Abbey of Tre Fontane, Rome

Statue of Mary found in the Abbey of Tre Fontane in Rome

The image presents Mary as the Abbot of the monastery. She wears the robe of a Cistercian monk, but she also carries the paraphernalia of a bishop. The Episcopal sedilia, the crozier, the ring and even the keys of the Kingdom.

Tre Fontane Abbey (English: Three Fountains Abbey; Latin: Abbatia trium fontium ad Aquas Salvias), or the Abbey of Saints Vincent and Anastasius, is a Roman Catholic abbey in Rome, currently held by the Trappist Fathers of the Cistercian Order. It is known as being the place where the lambs are raised whose shorn wool makes the palliums of new metropolitan archbishops. The lambs are blessed by the Pope on the Feast of Saint Agnes on January 21 and the palliums are given by him to the new metropolitan archbishops on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, the Holy Apostles


A word of thanks, and an appeal

I would like to thank the following persons for their help: the community of Poor Clare Colletines in Harwarden, Wales, Gt. Britain; Colette Joyce pastoral assistant in Borehamwood parish, nr. London; Dr. P.M.E. Hogervorst-van Kampen, Noordwijk, the Netherlands; and Drs. A. Wijngaards, Arnhem, the Netherlands. Ivelisse Colon-Nevarez.

I kindly request anyone else who knows of images of Our Lady wearing priestly vestments, or illustrations of Mary Virgin Priest, to let me know where these can be obtained. If at all possible, scan the image in colour and send it to me as an attachment to email. Please, retain detailed information about reproduction and publication. This will help me give the correct credits and obtain permission to show them on the net, when necessary and possible. Thank you!

Go to Gallery of Images, no 1.

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