Desperately Seeking Mary: A Mystery, Model, and Message
Darrell, Nona Scott
DESPERATELY SEEKING MARY:A MYSTERY, MODEL, AND MESSAGENona Scott DarrellMALS Mentor: Professor Theresa SandersABSTRACTThis thesis examines the reason why there was an increase in the awareness and visual image of the Virgin Mary in the Middle Ages. It will become clear her representation and enhanced role within Christianity was a calculated decision necessary to resolve inconsistencies and gaps within the biblical narrative as well as meet a public need for the Christian faith to prosper. Even though the scripture does not contain a great deal of information about her life, a theology and devotion developed around Mary in Medieval Europe. She became an influential female image and growing icon in all art forms during this era which persists today. By examining the biblical text and other church writings of the period then juxtaposing those to the growth of images will illuminate how her responsibility in the church became redefined and expanded.In order to fully explore why the increase was calculated and constructed, it is necessary to compare the rise of Mary's image to that of the rise of Christianity during third century Rome. After this, it becomes even more apparent that church leaders reverted to an old traditional method of communication involving the public portrayal of images to further spread the Christian religion. Exploring this formula, which catapulted Christians from cult status to legitimate religion, will highlight and underscore that the church not only understood the power of images, but that they were very skilled at using them to craft a message for the benefit of the faith.
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