Thursday, September 29, 2016

Madonna with Child and Saint Dominic

Madonna with Child and Saint Dominic in the Basilica of Saint Dominic in Bologna, Italy
In this fresco painted by an unknown Bolognese painter Dominican Friars are gathered under Mary's cloak receiving a blessing for the Order from her Son, Jesus Christ.  Mary has been associated with mercy since the early days of the Church.  The earliest written reference we have of this tradition is the "Sub Tuum" the oldest existing prayer to the Blessed Mother.  In English the prayer is rendered, “We fly to thy protection, O holy Mother of God, despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin.” 

The title "Mother of Mercy" first appeared in writing c. 942 in the life of St. Odo, the second abbot of Cluny.  Odo had been converted as a young man when, on a Christmas eve, he prayed, "O Lady, Mother of Mercy, on this night you gave a Savior to the world; be to me a worthy intercessor."  After this the title "Mother of Mercy became increasingly popular and a deeper sense of Mary’s spiritual motherhood developed.  As a result the words of the hymn “Salve Regina” were changed from "Salve Regina Misericordiae" to "Salve Regina, Mater Misericordiae."

(O'Carroll 1982), p. 259