There’s only a few days left of Advent but that means we need to savour them all the more.
I bet Mary, the Blessed Mother of God, was savouring them too — although I’m sure she was also quite keen to deliver her Saviour too! (No surprises there.)
These are my nine favourite images of Our Lady pregnant. They are known as Maria gravida (Italian: Mary pregnant, literally “heavy”), Madonna del Parto (Italian: Our Lady of Parturition, or childbirth), Our Lady of Expectation or Our Lady of the Sign. Each is beautiful in its own way.
Knit Together in Our Mother’s Womb
This stunning image has to be one of my favourites. The colours are rich and vibrant, and Our Lady is drawn with such delicacy. But notice what’s she doing. She’s spinning, with spindle and distaff. This is traditional women’s work of course, but it also symbolises the work of creation. In the Psalms, we hear that God knit us together in our mother’s womb. Appropriately then, the thread passes through the image of the unborn Christ, almost through his right hand, as if to remind that the little baby in the womb is also the Creator of everything.
Letting Out the Lacings
While the soft colours here are beautiful, that’s not what I love about this image. It’s that Our Lady has started letting out her dress. Normally, that dress would be laced tightly around her waist. But women in the past didn’t have “maternity clothes” the same way we do, they just loosened the lacing, as you see here. (Two things I don’t like about this picture though. 1) Her expression. 2) The weird halos that look more like good Italian bread than luminous halos of heavenly light.)
Sweet Virgin Mary
Oh, the adorbs! The Virgin is way too cute here but look at little statue Baby Jesus! Do you reckon they could take Him out and lay Him in a crib when Christmas comes? That would be some awesome multi-tasking — and excellent theology. I just can’t get over how cute this is!
Dawn of the Sun
Here, Jesus is represented by the symbol of the sun, nestled in His mother’s womb. “The sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings…” (Malachi 4:2) The colours of this work are golden and honeyed, just like the coming dawn Our Lady represents.
Conceived in Her Heart
This image comes from Xt3’s Advent Calendar. Each day, the website and app feature a different image to meditate on as we prepare for Christmas. I love this image, drawn by a primary school student in Sydney, because of the connection between Our Lord and the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady. Is Jesus drawing His strength and light from His mother? Or is He the source of the pure fire of her heart?
Very Pregnant Mary
Check out the sweet (but just slightly sly) expression of Mary here! I can’t help but think this is kind of a shot an adoring husband sneakily takes of his very pregnant wife. Doesn’t she seem like she’s got a secret?
Touched by Grace
The reason I love this one is very simple. Her tummy’s been rubbed bare. (There’s also a door which would have opened to a sculpture of Christ like the one above.)
A Pregnant Secret
Wait, Our Lady of Guadalupe? Yep. It’s one of the most recognisable images of the Blessed Virgin but not many people realise that she is actually pregnant. You can tell by her dress. Aztec women of the time would traditionally wear a black tie around their waist. When they were pregnant, it would be tied just under the breasts — exactly where Our Lady has tied hers.
Too Cute For This World
Finally, there’s this fantastic image. It’s not my favourite of Mary but… JESUS IS ABSURDLY CUTE.