Mary stands, much as she does in Our Lady of Grace, over the earth, watching over us all, arms extended, welcoming us in. She wears red to symbolize the Passion of her Son, and that of every martyr. Her mantle is blue, symbolizing grace and Heaven – pointing to the victory of the martyrs and our final destination.
Above her hands float two crowns; she offers them to us, much as she offered them to St. Maximilian Kolbe; the white crown of purity and the red crown of martyrdom. The symbolism was pulled from that apparition, but goes deeper as the saints talk of two types of martyrdom; the red martyrdom won in blood, literally giving up you life and dying for the faith; and the white martyrdom won through the daily sacrifice and sufferings. This latter martyrdom is the one personally experienced by Our Lady.
On Mary’s head is a golden crown with white and red jewels. Three crosses represent the Trinity, the sacrificial love of God in all three Persons, and the large red gem in particular symbolizes Jesus and His Passion. Twelve red gems underneath symbolize the twelve apostles, eleven of whom were martyred, and John whom they tried to martyr, but he wouldn’t die so they exiled him instead. Seven gems encircle the crown (the last two barely visible on each side) for the seven virtues; four red for the cardinal virtues, three white for the theological virtues.
Taken either as a sunset, symbolizing the death of the martyrs, or a sunrise, symbolizing the Resurrection, the sky fades from the blood red of the martyrs, to the peeking blue and white of Heaven.
A single tear courses down Mary’s cheek in sorrow for the suffering of the martyrs, even as she stands over the banner held up by the angels. “The Blood of the Martyrs is the Seed of the Church”.
The martyrs spark our own faith. They point to the reality of the presence of God, for who would die for something they know is fake? The martyrs all knew that God is real, that He is our Creator and our Savior, that nothing, not even life itself, is better than loving God. That this life on earth is not all that there is.
Through their witness, the church grows. Will we follow in their steps?
On the title: Excerpt taken from May Papers: Thoughts on the Litanies of Loreto by Edward Ignatius Purbrick SJ, 1874
“She did not excuse herself from suffering because the suffering of Jesus were more than ample propitiation for all actual, nay, for all possible sins. Though she knew that the Eternal Father was more glorified by each single Pang of her Son, than His honor was stained by the accumulated guilt of all generations of sinful man, she saw no motive for self-exemption.
She stood by the Cross, and her martyrdom, in point of duration at least, exceeded the Passion of her Son.
Look at her.
Besides the natural love which she bears Him as her Son, her heart throbs also with with the far deeper consciousness that He is her God… to stand firm and unwavering by the Cross; to assist at that first, that Bloody Mass; to unite her intention to that of the High Priest Who offers Himself for the sins of men; to give up thus the only treasure of her heart, and bow her head, without thought of faltering or reserve, to the holy will of God!
Yes, indeed, if Jesus is a victim, Mary is a victim also; if the white-robed army of Martyrs adore Him as their King, they no less honor her as their Queen”
Painted as a comission for a mural at a Chaldean Catholic Church in Detroit. Have an idea for a painting? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org