Marian art in the Catholic Church
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The Blessed Virgin Mary has been one of the major subjects of Christian Art, Catholic Art and Western Art for many centuries. Literally hundreds of thousands of pieces of Marian art in the Catholic Church covering a range of Marian artistic topics have been produced, from masters such as Michelangelo and Botticelli to humble peasant artists.
Although Marian art items may at times be viewed from an artistic perspective and sold at auctions, or discussed from an academic viewpoint in the context of art history, from a religious viewpoint they form part of the very fabric of Roman Catholic Marian culture through their emotional impact on the veneration of the Blessed Virgin. The study of Mary via the field of Mariology is thus inherently intertwined with Marian art.
The body of teachings that constitute Roman Catholic Mariology consist of four basic Marian dogmas: Perpetual virginity, Mother of God, Immaculate conception and Assumption into Heaven, derived from Biblical scripture, the writings of the Church Fathers, and the traditions of the Church. Other influences on Marian art have been the Feast days of the Church, Marian apparitions, writings of the saints and popular devotions such as the rosary, the Stations of the Cross, or total consecration, and also papal initiatives, and Marian papal encyclicals and Apostolic Letters.
Each of these fundamental Mariological beliefs has given rise to Roman Catholic Marian art that has become part of Mariology, by emphasizing Marian veneration, being celebrated in specific Marian feasts, or becoming part of key Roman Catholic Marian churches. This article's focus is primarily on how the artistic component of Roman Catholic Mariology has represented the fundamental Marian doctrines of the Catholic Church, and has thus interacted with them, creating a force that has shaped Catholic Mariology over the centuries.