Sunday, May 11, 2008

La Madonna del latte

Amazing as it may seem, there are still people, in this seriously confused country, who are uncomfortable with mothers who breastfeed their babies. Perhaps if we had kept these images of Mary nursing her infant son Jesus we would think it commonplace and women's breasts would not be seen solely as sexual objects.

So in honor of Mother's Day and mothers everywhere, here is a selection of artwork through the ages of La Madonna del latte (just don't order it at Starbucks). I apologize for not including their provenance.

A modest portrayal yet see how baby Jesus reaches for his mother, like any other hungry infant.

This one is quite revealing but also realistic, with the slit in the undergarment.

I love this big, strapping baby--thriving because of his mother's milk.

Mary's face is tender and calm, something I could've used when I was a young mother, sometimes trapped on the couch for most of a day because my daughter was so ravenous.

There is nothing like the tender touch of a child.

This one is almost amusing, especially since Mary is dressed like a nun. Some of the iconic work made the breast look like a cone!

A few months ago this one made the cover of The Christian Century.

This one is my favorite. Mary does not look at her audience but at her child with all the fullness of love and devotion. Mary was the first to sacrifice her life for Jesus by carrying him in her body and giving birth to him. She was the first to give what she had to this child, even though one day a sword would piece her heart.

But then, don't all children eventually do this to their parents? And wouldn't we do it all over again anyway?

A happy and blessed Mother's Day to all.


Jane R said...

A beautiful meditation, Cynthia! Thanks so much for these images and for your comments on them.

Jan said...

Oh, I love all your paintings! I was a La Leche League leader for 12 years, and so I always look for nativity scenes where Mary (or Joseph) is at least holding that sacred baby!! I don't know why there is such a hang-up about breastfeeding. It's healthier and is better for bonding.

Cynthia said...

I just read an article today in the NY Times about a new organic formula made by Similac that contains sucrose. Can you believe?