May 6, 2022
By Joanne Natale Spigonardo
In honor of Mother’s Day, I thought I would write about one of the greatest mothers of all, Mary. Mary symbolizes the unconditional love of motherhood, and the gifts that motherhood brings. The Sistine Madonna depicts the purity of devotion that Mary has for her Son. The painting was one of the great works of Raphael, and was commissioned by Pope Julius II for the church of San Sisto in Piacenza, Italy. The painting was completed in 1513 and the Rovere family of Piacenza was one of its benefactors. It is considered one of the most extraordinary masterpieces of Renaissance Italy. Its truly a hidden treasure of Italy, however it now resides in Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden, Germany.
The meaning of la Madonna di San Sisto is interpreted in many ways, however one interpretation is that Mary is at the center of reality on earth and as a Mother she will eventually lead her Son to Heaven. She is having a vision of the future. Her worried expression could be a foreshadowing of the crucifixion of Christ, and the pain, as well as the glory that her Son will experience. Like all Mother’s she holds her child close to her heart, and wants to protect Him from his destiny, and like all Mother’s she knows that children need to follow their chosen path.
One of the most famous images in the Sistine Madonna is the beautiful angels, that Raphael called his putti. Raphael is greatly known for his cherubs. He was inspired by the innocence of children and their general curiosity and wonder of the beauty around them. Some historic facts about his angels are that they were the village children that were watching Raphael paint and he was touched by their attention to his art.
There are countless masterpieces of the Madonna in Italy and throughout the world. One can only assume that the love of Mary and of mothers is one of life’s greatest gifts. Hope that all the mothers in the universe, and those that are like mothers to us, have a wonderful Mother’s Day!
About the Author
Joanne has many years of experience in travel to Italy, Italian art, literature, film, history, wine, and cuisine. She is a lover of nature and beauty. She is an advocate for Italian immigrant women, and the author of White Widow, which is available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/White-Widow-Joanne-Natale-Spigonardo/dp/B085DT65DB. For more information about Joanne please visit her LinkedIn page: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joanne-spigonardo-b4824a9/.