One of my very favorite images of the Baby Jesus and the Blessed Virgin is a painting by an Italian artist Roberto Ferruzzi entitled, Little Madonna.  I know it by another name, La Madonna Strada, or in English: Our Lady of the Streets.

Through Ferruzzi's eyes we meet a young Virgin with a small boy on her shoulder seeking shelter.  There is a soft pleading on her face.  "Will you let us in?" she seems to ask.  The Child is asleep on her shoulder, and I instantly want to whisper as not to wake Him.  She is bundled against the cold, and the softness in her eyes makes you want to help somehow.  The Woman and the Child are at the far right of the frame, almost in the door, at the very threshold of the house.  It's a beautiful piece, one that always warms my heart when I see it.

I like that particular image because it brings the reality of the Incarnation home in a very "normal" sort of way.  This amazing mystery of God-With-Us, of the Creator taking flesh from a Virgin and being born into our human existence as a baby, is made real by seeing the Blessed Virgin and the Holy Infant in a very normal and even vulnerable position.  We are reminded of the greatness of our God Who doesn't shy away from humility in order to cross the abyss to rescue us from our sinfulness.

That mystery is what the celebration of Christmas is all about…it's the wonder of the Word Made Flesh coming to dwell among us that is the cause of our joy.  When Christ was born, the angels sang.  Can you imagine the rapture that the angels felt that caused them to sing?  These are beings who are in God's presence all the time, yet this Child generated a song from the Heavens in happiness.

 For me though, it's less about the Gloria in excelsis than finding room in my heart.  For me, it is the very ordinariness of the birth of Jesus Christ that draws us in…the soft pleading in the eyes of the Virgin seeking a place for her Son that opens a door to our hearts in a way that could only opened by a babe.

As we welcome the Christ Child again these blessed days of Christmas, ponder the wonder of the Night That Changed the World.

Merry Christmas!

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  • Guest

    There is a remarkable story about this painting here:  http://www.americancatholic.org/Messenger/Jan2000/feature1.asp

    Roberto Ferruzzi, the artist, claimed it was not a representation of the Madonna.  But he did call it Madonnina (little madonna) and it was accepted as a religious painting from the beginning. 

  • Guest

    I saw that, too, when doing the research for this article.  I can take the artist at his word, but for a painting that wasn't intended as a religious piece it has all the marks! 

    The young woman with a child, the blue mantel (blue is usually associated with Our Lady), and the child dressed all in white. 

    I'm no art expert, but if it "quacks like a duck" …Laughing

  • Guest

    This is art for God's sake. Can't get more artistic than that.

  • Guest

    Thank you, Mickey Addison, for this article.  I have a holy card with this picture but the artist’s name was not included.  The holy cards were made available at a pro-life prayer service earlier this year.  The back of the card has “Prayer for Parents who have lost a child before birth.”

    Lord Jesus,

    Whose Mother stood grieving at the foot of the cross,

       look kindly on those

       who have suffered

       the loss of their child

       listen to the prayers of Mary

       on their behalf,

       that their faith

       may be strong like hers

       and they may find reassurance

       in your infinite goodness

       for you live and reign for ever and ever.  Amen