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Friday, December 31, 2010

Haiku My Heart: Peace in the Gardens of Nazareth Hills

Peace in the Gardens of Nazareth Hills, Israel by  hermin abramovitchPeace in the Gardens of Nazareth Hills, Israel by Hermin Abramovitch

A Rush of White Wings

Round a Peace Encircled Tree,

Hope Grows like Green Grass.

~Noelle Renee

Dec. 31, 2010

Nazareth-The-Fountain-of-the-Virgin-1894 (1)

Nazareth, Jesus’s hometown, is today a bustling city of over 70,000 people. The people of Nazareth are termed “Arab citizens of Israel” or “1948 Palestinians,” depending on one’s politics. About a third of Nazarenes are Christians, the rest are Muslim.

On the hill rising above the dense town and its imposing Basilica of the Annunciation, lies Upper Nazareth (Hebrew: “Nazareth Illit”). This community was founded by Israel in 1957, a Jewish town situated so as to overlook the country’s largest solidly Arab community. However, realities in Galilee transcend nationalist aspirations. Families from Nazareth proper have been moving over the years to the airier hilltop suburb. Today, about 15 percent of Upper Nazareth residents are Arabs, mostly Christians.

These Arabs have witnessed the enormous Hanukkiyahs (menorahs) placed by the city over the Jewish holiday of Hannukah. Now, with the coming of Christmas, they approached the mayor, Shimon Gapso, and requested that a Christmas tree be placed as well. Gafso, reports Israeli news site NRG (owned by Maariv), refused staunchly. “Upper Nazareth is a Jewish town and all its symbols are Jewish,” said Gapso, “As long as I hold office, no non-Jewish symbol will be presented in the city.”

Arab members of the city council, representing a moderate public that chose to come and live in a heavily Jewish suburb, insisted. They mentioned the Hanukkiyahs erected in American cities that aren’t designated Jewish. Gapso ignored their pleas. “Let them go down to Lower Nazareth,” he said this week. To his support came the city’s chief rabbi, Isaiah Herzl, who said that erecting a Christmas tree is unthinkable since it would be “offensive to Jewish eyes.”

Unlike the reporter at NRG, the author here at +972 Magazine has liberty to comment and analyze. It is almost scary to attempt this, since such a story would read so differently to different readers. Being a Jew, I know exactly how threatening Christmas is to us, being the most tempting symbol of non-Jewish life (I wouldn’t even say Christian life, since the roots of the holiday are pagan, it is celebrated by non-Christians and has been greatly stripped of its Christian content over the past century). We have all been brought up with the notion that holding on to Judaism requires resisting such symbols.

In the heart, that is.

By declaring Upper Nazareth Christmas resistant, Mayor Gapso exposes the great insecurity and confusion of the Jewish state. If the only way to maintain the Jewish character of his town is by showing complete lack of tolerance and resisting integration of its non-Jewish residents, then Upper Nazareth is in fact a self imposed ghetto, walled by fear and intolerance and so, by extension, is the entire state of Israel.

Having lived within these walls for so long, Mayor Gapso has absolutely no clue what non-Jews around the world would feel when hearing that the mayor of a Nazareth suburb bans Christmas trees. He is the mayor who stole Christmas, the mayor of an ethnocentric town with a name that hints at superiority, who rejects a symbol of universal tolerance.

Make no mistake, mayors always think forward to the next election. Mr. Gapso, who in the past made efforts to draw Jewish families into his town and reduce the percentage of Arabs in it, predicts that his act will draw support from the community. In that he does not differ from the Jewish mayors of other mixed towns, such as Akko’s Shimon Lankry, who take an intolerant position whenever that is an option, gaining power from the animosities within their communities.

In the spirit of the holidays, let us conclude this not with them but with a fond mention of a different city. The city of Haifa, under Mayor Yona Yahav, placed a huge Christmas tree right at the boundary of the its Jewish and Arab neighborhoods, (in fact, a bit further into the Jewish area), proving that sharing the festive season is possible even in this troubled land.

--Wednesday, December 22 2010|Yuval Ben-Ami  (author)

For more Haikus of Peace for the New Year see recuerda mi corazon

May the Seeds of Peace be Planted firmly in your Soul this Year and Reap a Fine Harvest in your Life and Heart.

Blessings and Light in 2011

~Noelle Renee


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Light From Within: Prayers for Allegra

Light from withinLight from Within – Oregon Coast by Marc Adamus@marcadamus .com

For Allegra:

May The One Who is Love Surround You in a Healing and Warm Embrace

May Your Heart, Mind and Body Know Ease from Suffering

And May the One Who is Compassion Offer You

The Grace and Light to Find the Healing Within.

Blessings and Peace to You this Day and Always,

Noelle Renee

Please Pray for our blogger friend Allegra who is struggling with a Life threatening illness. Thank you.

Share the Joy Thursday: You Complete Me

drawingDrawing ~ Post by Trinity

Each and Every day

You have the Chance to Create

A More Complete Self

~ Noelle Renee

~On Her Birthday, December 30, 2010~

For me, this is a  joyful thing to remember on this day in particular.


Eva Cassidy “True Colors”

For More Share the Joy Posts Please Go to Meri’s Musings.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

This is the Land by Emily Dickinson

Nightskyredfirebluepasture (1)

This is the Land

This -- is the land -- the Sunset washes --
These -- are the Banks of the Yellow Sea --
Where it rose -- or whither it rushes --
These -- are the Western Mystery!

Night after Night
Her purple traffic
Strews the landing with Opal Bales --
Merchantmen -- poise upon Horizons --
Dip -- and vanish like Orioles!
~Emily Dickinson

Monday, December 27, 2010



Fairytale Serge KozachukSerge Kozachuk “Fairytale”


Afternoon on a Hill

I will be the gladdest thing

Under the sun!

I will touch a hundred flowers

And not pick one.


I will look at cliffs and clouds

With quiet eyes,

Watch the wind bow down the grass,

and the grass rise.


And when lights begin to show

Up from the town,

I will mark which must be mine,

And then start down!

~by Edna St. Vincent Millay

from Collected Poems

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Stumbling Toward Ecstasy: Stormy Clouds Above Spain—Venus to the Right of the Crescent Moon Clouds above Spain--Venus to the Right of the Crescent Moon


I want to write about faith,
about the way the moon rises
over cold snow, night after night,

faithful even as it fades from fullness,
slowly becoming that last curving and impossible
sliver of light before the final darkness.

But I have no faith myself
I refuse it even the smallest entry.

Let this then, my small poem,
like a new moon, slender and barely open,
be the first prayer that opens me to faith.

-- David Whyte

For more moments of “stumbling toward ecstasy” visit recuerda mi corazon

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas Everyone

Christmas Eve

Always on Christmas night there was music. An uncle played the fiddle, a cousin sang "Cherry Ripe," and another uncle sang "Drake's Drum." It was very warm in the little house. Auntie Hannah, who had got on to the parsnip wine, sang a song about Bleeding Hearts and Death, and then another in which she said her heart was like a Bird's Nest; and then everybody laughed again; and then I went to bed. Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night. I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept.

~Dylan Thomas

Excerpted from “A Child’s Christmas In Wales” By Dylan Thomas

Have a Blessed Christmas,Full of Joy and Wonder and a New Year graced with the Blessing of Peace in our World.


Noelle Renee

Dec. 25 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Selfish Giant By Oscar Wilde


selfish giant sea legs puppet theaterPhoto from the Sea legs Puppet Theater

Note: Oscar Wilde intended this story to be read to children, but this is Christmas Eve and we are all children at this time of year, are we not? Occasionally the ending has been omitted as well, but I think that its beauty sustains the story on so many levels , and I shall not do that disservice to Mr. Wilde for whose genius I am eternally grateful.

~Noelle Renee Dec. 2010


The Selfish Giant

by Oscar Wilde

Every afternoon, as they were coming from school, the children used to go and play in the Giant's garden.

     It was a large lovely garden, with soft green grass. Here and there over the grass stood beautiful flowers like stars, and there were twelve peach-trees that in the spring-time broke out into delicate blossoms of pink and pearl, and in the autumn bore rich fruit. The birds sat on the trees and sang so sweetly that the children used to stop their games in order to listen to them. 'How happy we are here!' they cried to each other.

     One day the Giant came back. He had been to visit his friend the Cornish ogre, and had stayed with him for seven years. After the seven years were over he had said all that he had to say, for his conversation was limited, and he determined to return to his own castle. When he arrived he saw the children playing in the garden.

     'What are you doing here?' he cried in a very gruff voice, and the children ran away.

     'My own garden is my own garden,' said the Giant; 'any one can understand that, and I will allow nobody to play in it but myself.' So he built a high wall all round it, and put up a notice-board.


     He was a very selfish Giant.

     The poor children had now nowhere to play. They tried to play on the road, but the road was very dusty and full of hard stones, and they did not like it. They used to wander round the high wall when their lessons were over, and talk about the beautiful garden inside.

     'How happy we were there,' they said to each other.

     Then the Spring came, and all over the country there were little blossoms and little birds. Only in the garden of the Selfish Giant it was still Winter. The birds did not care to sing in it as there were no children, and the trees forgot to blossom. Once a beautiful flower put its head out from the grass, but when it saw the notice-board it was so sorry for the children that it slipped back into the ground again, and went off to sleep. The only people who were pleased were the Snow and the Frost. 'Spring has forgotten this garden,' they cried, 'so we will live here all the year round.' The Snow covered up the grass with her great white cloak, and the Frost painted all the trees silver. Then they invited the North Wind to stay with them, and he came. He was wrapped in furs, and he roared all day about the garden, and blew the chimney-pots down. 'This is a delightful spot,' he said, 'we must ask the Hail on a visit.' So the Hail came. Every day for three hours he rattled on the roof of the castle till he broke most of the slates, and then he ran round and round the garden as fast as he could go. He was dressed in grey, and his breath was like ice.

     'I cannot understand why the Spring is so late in coming,' said the Selfish Giant, as he sat at the window and looked out at his cold white garden; 'I hope there will be a change in the weather.'

     But the Spring never came, nor the Summer. The Autumn gave golden fruit to every garden, but to the Giant's garden she gave none. 'He is too selfish,' she said. So it was always Winter there, and the North Wind, and the Hail, and the Frost, and the Snow danced about through the trees.

     One morning the Giant was lying awake in bed when he heard some lovely music. It sounded so sweet to his ears that he thought it must be the King's musicians passing by. It was really only a little linnet singing outside his window, but it was so long since he had heard a bird sing in his garden that it seemed to him to be the most beautiful music in the world. Then the Hail stopped dancing over his head, and the North Wind ceased roaring, and a delicious perfume came to him through the open casement. 'I believe the Spring has come at last,' said the Giant; and he jumped out of bed and looked out.

     What did he see?

     He saw a most wonderful sight. Through a little hole in the wall the children had crept in, and they were sitting in the branches of the trees. In every tree that he could see there was a little child. And the trees were so glad to have the children back again that they had covered themselves with blossoms, and were waving their arms gently above the children's heads. The birds were flying about and twittering with delight, and the flowers were looking up through the green grass and laughing. It was a lovely scene, only in one corner it was still Winter. It was the farthest corner of the garden, and in it was standing a little boy. He was so small that he could not reach up to the branches of the tree, and he was wandering all round it, crying bitterly. The poor tree was still quite covered with frost and snow, and the North Wind was blowing and roaring above it. 'Climb up! little boy,' said the Tree, and it bent its branches down as low as it could; but the little boy was too tiny.

     And the Giant's heart melted as he looked out. 'How selfish I have been!' he said; 'now I know why the Spring would not come here. I will put that poor little boy on the top of the tree, and then I will knock down the wall, and my garden shall be the children's playground for ever and ever.' He was really very sorry for what he had done.

     So he crept downstairs and opened the front door quite softly, and went out into the garden. But when the children saw him they were so frightened that they all ran away, and the garden became Winter again. Only the little boy did not run, for his eyes were so full of tears that he did not see the Giant coming. And the Giant stole up behind him and took him gently in his hand, and put him up into the tree. And the tree broke at once into blossom, and the birds came and sang on it, and the little boy stretched out his two arms and flung them round the Giant's neck, and kissed him. And the other children, when they saw that the Giant was not wicked any longer, came running back, and with them came the Spring. 'It is your garden now, little children,' said the Giant, and he took a great axe and knocked down the wall. And when the people were going to market at twelve o'clock they found the Giant playing with the children in the most beautiful garden they had ever seen.

     All day long they played, and in the evening they came to the Giant to bid him good-bye.

     'But where is your little companion?' he said: 'the boy I put into the tree.' The Giant loved him the best because he had kissed him.

     'We don't know,' answered the children; 'he has gone away.'

     'You must tell him to be sure and come here to-morrow,' said the Giant. But the children said that they did not know where he lived, and had never seen him before; and the Giant felt very sad.

     Every afternoon, when school was over, the children came and played with the Giant. But the little boy whom the Giant loved was never seen again. The Giant was very kind to all the children, yet he longed for his first little friend, and often spoke of him. 'How I would like to see him!' he used to say.

     Years went over, and the Giant grew very old and feeble. He could not play about any more, so he sat in a huge armchair, and watched the children at their games, and admired his garden. 'I have many beautiful flowers,' he said; 'but the children are the most beautiful flowers of all.'

     One winter morning he looked out of his window as he was dressing. He did not hate the Winter now, for he knew that it was merely the Spring asleep, and that the flowers were resting.

     Suddenly he rubbed his eyes in wonder, and looked and looked. It certainly was a marvellous sight. In the farthest corner of the garden was a tree quite covered with lovely white blossoms. Its branches were all golden, and silver fruit hung down from them, and underneath it stood the little boy he had loved.

     Downstairs ran the Giant in great joy, and out into the garden. He hastened across the grass, and came near to the child. And when he came quite close his face grew red with anger, and he said, 'Who hath dared to wound thee?' For on the palms of the child's hands were the prints of two nails, and the prints of two nails were on the little feet.

     'Who hath dared to wound thee?' cried the Giant; 'tell me, that I may take my big sword and slay him.'

     'Nay!' answered the child; 'but these are the wounds of Love.'

     'Who art thou?' said the Giant, and a strange awe fell on him, and he knelt before the little child.

     And the child smiled on the Giant, and said to him, 'You let me play once in your garden, to-day you shall come with me to my garden, which is Paradise.'

     And when the children ran in that afternoon, they found the Giant lying dead under the tree, all covered with white blossoms.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sharing the Joy Thursday: Egrets

Little Egrets from BaliLittle Egrets from Bali ~ Lia Brand Photography

Mary Oliver
Where the path closed
down and over,
through the scumbled leaves,
fallen branches,
through the knotted catbrier,
I kept going. Finally
I could not
save my arms
from thorns; soon
the mosquitoes
smelled me, hot
and wounded, and came
wheeling and whining.
And that's how I came
to the edge of the pond:
black and empty
except for a spindle
of bleached reeds
at the far shore
which, as I looked,
wrinkled suddenly
into three egrets - - -
a shower
of white fire!
Even half-asleep they had
such faith in the world
that had made them - - -
tilting through the water,
unruffled, sure,
by the laws
of their faith not logic,
they opened their wings
softly and stepped
over every dark thing
To See more Joyful Posts go to Meri’s Musings!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010





BACKWARD, turn backward, O time, in your flight,
Make me a child again just for tonight.

~Elizabeth Akers Allen

Excerpt from “Rock Me to Sleep”


PS22 Children’s Chorus—A Winter’s Carol by Tori Amos

Monday, December 20, 2010

Caretake This Moment

landscape by Musin YohanLandscape by Musin Yohan (

Caretake This Moment
Caretake this moment.
Immerse yourself in its particulars.
Respond to this person, this challenge, this deed.
Quit the evasions.
Stop giving yourself needless trouble.
It is time to really live; to fully inhabit the situation you happen to be in now.
You are not some disinterested bystander.
Exert yourself.
Respect your partnership with providence.
Ask yourself often, How may I perform this particular deed
such that it would be consistent with and acceptable to the divine will?
Heed the answer and get to work.
When your doors are shut and your room is dark you are not alone.
The will of nature is within you as your natural genius is within.
Listen to its importunings.
Follow its directives.
As concerns the art of living, the material is your own life.
No great thing is created suddenly.
There must be time.
Give your best and always be kind.
~ Epictetus ~
(Epictetus: The Art of Living a New Interpretation by Sharon Lebell.)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Canada Geese at Sunrise


1292573949hLQgeRFTom Kitchin


by Michael Shorb

Just north of Valley Falls
  rust mustard hue of
  fading autumn
                chills the marsh
  last storm of
    Canadian geese
  stuns the flyway
      imprinted engines of feathers and cries.
      I wonder how they'll
    thread their way
  how instincts born of spanning
  northern frosts and raw
  walnut air
            navigate interstate
  haze to pinpoints in
  South American distance
  zeroing back with
  each unerring swoop
  to splashdown
                on a mountain lake
  where reeds bend
  mirrored in watery
              of their own swaying
    they and the vanishing geese
  a single string
            neutron dance
          branches of the actual
  surrounding me like
    breath returning
  when everything else
                        is gone.

©2009, Michael Shorb

Excerpt From Winged Migration

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Dark Night of the Soul (For Leslie)


10_exploring_by_lantern_light_1024Exploring by Lantern Light ~S.L. Spanoudis

Loreena McKennitt - The dark night of the soul

Upon a darkened night
the flame of love was burning in my breast
And by a lantern bright
I fled my house while all in quiet rest

Shrouded by the night
and by the secret stair I quickly fled
The veil concealed my eyes
while all within lay quiet as the dead

Oh night thou was my guide
oh night more loving than the rising sun
Oh night that joined the lover
to the beloved one
transforming each of them into the other

Upon that misty night
in secrecy, beyond such mortal sight
Without a guide or light
than that which burned so deeply in my heart

That fire t'was led me on
and shone more bright than of the midday sun
To where he waited still
it was a place where no one else could come


Within my pounding heart
which kept itself entirely for him
He fell into his sleep
beneath the cedars all my love I gave
And by the fortress walls
the wind would brush his hair against his brow
And with its smoothest hand
caressed my every sense it would allow


I lost myself to him
and laid my face upon my lovers breast
And care and grief grew dim
as in the mornings mist became the light
There they dimmed amongst the lilies fair
There they dimmed amongst the lilies fair
There they dimmed amongst the lilies fair

~lyrics by St. John of the Cross/arr. and adapted by Loreena McKennitt

Loreena writes in the CD booklet about this song:

May, 1993 - Stratford ... have been reading through the poetry of 15th century Spain, and I find myself drawn to one by the mystic writer and visionary St. John of the Cross; the untitled work is an exquisite, richly metaphoric love poem between himself and his god. It could pass as a love poem between any two at any time ... His approach seems more akin to early Islamic or Judaic works in its more direct route to communication to his god ... I have gone over three different translations of the poem, and am struck by how much a translation can alter our interpretation. Am reminded that most holy scriptures come to us in translation, resulting in a diversity of views.

Music by Loreena McKennitt
Lyrics by St. John of the Cross (San Juan de la Cruz), arr. and adapted by Loreena McKennitt
The mask and mirror (1994).

Live version: Live in San Francisco

Note~I own this recording and this particular song has always been a favorite. Years ago, I sang it in a small Episcopal Church with only a  guitar as an accompaniment. I love Loreena McKennitt’s description of it as a “love poem between himself and his god.” Please listen. It is so lovely.  Merry Christmas. Blessings and Light.

~Noelle Renee

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Share the Joy Thursday: Let’s Just Talk About Whatever Comes Up…

1292120551WqnjIhBBy John Eastcott and Yva Momatiuk -

I was looking for something to share today that made me feel especially joyful. I came upon this image. Enough said, I think. Big, Big Smile……I found this poem to go with it. I hope it makes you smile too.


Happy Thursday!



A giraffe came by the willow tree
Stopped to gaze and talk to me.
For he was very lean and tall
A pillar, a column, a walking wall.
And as he looked down upon my face
His eyes were wide two pools in space,
As they engulfed, the countryside,
The sky above, held me inside -
Their special height and slant of things
Their special view of every thing,
And I could see by looking up
The wealth within his loving cup
That thinks and drinks the sun and sky
And watches us from way up high.
And yet I found it sad to see
That he could never reach down to me
For he was too tall, too much ideal
And I was too small, too much the real.
So, this angular figure, graceful and wise
Of astounding vision and cool clear eyes
Watched the sun rise, then watched it set
Looked down on me and seemed to forget
That I was as much a part of this scene
As the sun in the sky, the oak in the green.
Then the willow tree watching standing near by
Saw the distance between us and started to cry
she bowed down her head touching the ground
And from that day to this,
it's the way she'll be found.

Author Unknown

For More Share the Joy Posts, Go visit Meri’s Musings.

Giraffe Breeding and Birthing Habits":A female giraffe doesn't generally breed before her fifth year. She carries her single baby for 15 months before giving birth while standing, with the young giraffe falling as much as six feet to the ground.
The newborn calf is about 6 feet tall and weighs 80-150 pounds. Within about 20 minutes of birth the young giraffe is able to stand up and it starts nursing within an hour.
A baby giraffe is weaned at 12-15 months of age and becomes fully independent approximately 3-4 months later.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

To Know the Dark by Wendell Berry

full moon and birdFull Moon and Bird post by Tone –

To Know the Dark
To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings

- Wendell Berry

Monday, December 13, 2010

Thailand:Overgrown Idol

Overgrown Idolvia helen amo blog (fig tree)


if you move carefully
through the forest

like the ones
in the old stories

who could cross
a shimmering bed of dry leaves
without a sound,

you come
to a place
whose only task

is to trouble you
with tiny
but frightening requests

conceived out of nowhere
but in this place
beginning to lead everywhere.

Requests to stop what
you are doing right now,

to stop what you
are becoming
while you do it,

that can make
or unmake
a life,

that have patiently
waited for you,

that have no right
to go away.

~ David Whyte ~

(Everything is Waiting for You)

Poem via

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Virgin A Day: L’Innocence by Bouguereau/Feast of Guadalupe

virgin-mary-pics-0917L’Innocence by  Adolphe Bouguereau

A Christmas Card - Written in 1947

When the white stars talk together like sisters
And when the winter hills
Raise their grand semblance in the freezing night,
Somewhere one window
Bleeds like the brown eye of an open force.

Hills, stars,
White stars that stand above the eastern stable.

Look down and offer Him.
The dim adoring light of your belief.
Whose small Heart bleeds with infinite fire.

Shall not this Child
(When we shall hear the bells of His amazing voice)
Conquer the winter of our hateful century?

And when His Lady Mother leans upon the crib,
Lo, with what rapiers
Those two loves fence and flame their brillancy!

Here in this straw lie planned the fires
That will melt all our sufferings:
He is our Lamb, our holocaust!

And one by one the shepherds, with their snowy feet,
Stamp and shake out their hats upon the stable dirt,
And one by one kneel down to look upon their Life.

--Thomas Merton

(Happy Christmastide Everyone)

-Noelle Renee

Thomas Merton (1915-1968), Trappist monk and priest is recognized as one of the major spiritual fathers of our times. His longing for silence and solitude, his contemplative vision, his engagement with need for world peace through inner life of the spirit, his journey across religious traditions, cultures and disciplines, make him a man for all times but especially for our own. Thomas Merton expressed this vision in his poetry, novels, essays, devotionals, and autobiographical writings.

Our Lady of Guadalupe on Her Feast Day

rostro_400_PPhoto of the actual image on the Tilma



My deepest gratitude and appreciation to Rebecca of Recuerda mi Corazon for creating this wonderful project and bringing all of us together near and far to connect through our love and interest in Mary and Our Lady of Guadalupe. I shall miss this project, and I am glad to have made such dear friends . I thank Rebecca and Mother Mary for that!



For our Last Virgin Sightings on this Feast of Guadalupe go to recuerda mi corazon!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Virgin A Day: Madonna and Child



Marianne Preindelsberger-Stokes Madonna and Child

Madonna and Child by Marianne Stokes

“The Madonna and Child was one of many works Stokes produced based on spiritual themes. It is a depiction of the Christian story of the birth of Jesus, told through the Gospels.

Painted in Ragusa on the Dalmatian coast, overlooking the Adriatic Sea, the model for the Virgin Mary was a local village girl.

The costume is representative of a traditional Dalmatian costume from the time, and provides a bright focus for Stokes to express her style as a colourist.

When the portrait was painted the place was under the semi-control of the Austro-Hungarian Empire but is now part of former Yugoslavia and Croatia.
In the background Stokes surrounds the Holy mother and child with thorny stems seeming to refer to the future crucifixion of Christ.

Stokes' interest in biblical themes is typical of the artists of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, whom she admired. The Pre-Raphaelite were a group of artists working in the second half of the nineteenth century. Their aim was to return to the purer styles of the early Renaissance artists like Fra Angelico and their subject matter was often spiritual.”

Marianne Stokes (1855 - 1927)

Born in Southern Austria in 1855 Marianne Preindlsberger Stokes studied art in Munich.

Above information from: Madonna and Child by Marianne Stokes, 1907-1908, Tempera on board

 I was most taken by the expression on the face of Mary—it is one of both great tenderness and saddened resignation. She lifts the protective blanket that covers her infant son, to offer his beautiful expression of peace to the world, knowing in her heart that she will lose this deepest love and joy.

--Noelle Renee

For More Virgin Sightings go to Recuerda mi Corazon.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Virgin A Day: Madonna of the Roses (Haiku My Heart)

412px-William-Adolphe_Bouguereau_(1825-1905)_-_The_Madonna_of_the_Roses_(1903)William Adolphe Bouguereau
Blossom of God's Heart
Petal by Petal Your Light
Opens to the World.
For more Virgin sightings see recuerda mi corazon
Haiku by Noelle Renee (copyright)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Day 9: A Virgin a Day–Madonna of the Streets

MadonnaOfTheStreets1Madonna of the Streets by Robert Ferruzzi ("Madonnina")

This well-known artwork has been widely reproduced on Christmas cards, holy cards and other objects. The original was painted by Roberto Ferruzzi, who was a familiar sight in Italy during the final years of the Victorian era.

Although Ferruzzi called the painting “Madonnina,” it is better known today as “Madonna of the Streets.” Some reproductions show embellishments (billowing clouds and halos) that were added over the years to enhance religious interpretation.

The location of Ferruzzi’s original painting is unknown. But a startling story about the history of the artwork was uncovered when the daughter of Italian immigrants traced her roots. Mary Bovo, now known as Sister Angela Marie, shared her discovery before suffering a stroke last August. After reading her story, you will understand why her family is on a quest to find Ferruzzi’s original painting.

Tragic Childhood

Angelina and Antonio Bovo left Italy and settled in Oakland, California, in 1906. Mary Bovo was the seventh of their 10 children. The family lived comfortably until 1929, when 42-year-old Antonio was stricken with influenza and died.

His bereft widow, unskilled in English, struggled to provide for her large family. But the stress caught up with Angelina: She suffered a devastating nervous breakdown and spent the rest of her life in a mental hospital. The four younger Bovo children, including eight-year-old Mary, were placed in orphanages and foster homes. Although the children were scattered, they managed to keep track of each other and remained devoted to their mother until her death in 1972.

When Mary Bovo was in the fifth grade at a Catholic orphanage, her teacher was Sister Angela. This teacher was much revered by Mary, who recalls, “It was then and there that God called me” to religious life.

Years later, Mary Bovo entered the Order of Saint Joseph of Carondelet, a venerable French community founded in 1650. She became Sister Angela Marie, in honor of her mother and her fifth-grade teacher.

Family Secret Revealed

Throughout her life, Sister Angela Marie was haunted by questions about her family. Her father’s sudden death followed by her mother’s mental breakdown resulted in a complete cessation of communication with relatives who still lived in Venice, Italy. Were any of them still alive? What could they tell her about her ancestry?

With the encouragement of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet, Sister Angela Marie went to Italy in 1984. She located two of her mother’s sisters, who were then in their 80’s. These relatives had given up hope of ever finding out what became of their beloved sibling who went to the United States after her marriage many years earlier. Imagine their emotions upon meeting one of her offspring. “I resemble my mother,” notes Sister Angela Marie.

Aunt Giulia still lived in the same Venetian house where she grew up with 14 brothers and sisters. The frail aunt had something special to show her niece: It was a likeness of Sister Angela Marie’s mother when she was a young girl.

The image was not a faded photo. It was a print of Roberto Ferruzzi’s popular “Madonnina.” Sister Angela Marie was informed that her mother modeled for the painting around the turn of the last century. She had seen prints of the popular portrait many times and assumed it to be just another Madonna rendering. But she had no idea that her mother was the young girl with the beatific face who posed for the artist so long ago in Venice.

Verifying the Story

The Bovo family was thrilled by this discovery but felt compelled to verify the story. They tracked down Roberto Ferruzzi’s two surviving nephews, who had preserved the artist’s personal notes. Those documents provided indisputable proof that Sister Angela Marie Bovo’s mother was the young girl in “Madonnina.” In addition, the baby in the painting was identified as the girl’s brother Giovanni, who was one year old at the time. Ferruzzi had been in Venice when he noticed the girl with the baby— she was draped against the cold and holding the child close to help them both stay warm. It was obvious that Angelina, then 11, was too young to be the baby’s mother. But she displayed an arresting maternal gentleness that was irresistible to the artist.

(Below is a more faithful representation of the actual painting—which, in my opinion, is quite beautiful!)—N.C.

Ferruzzi-a Feruzzi’s “Madonnina”

How Ferruzzi was able to persuade this girl from a good family to pose for him remains a mystery. Was it flattery? Did he offer a significant monetary incentive that this child from a large family couldn’t resist?

Angelina couldn’t wait to report the exciting adventure to her mother, who was so shocked that she swore the child to secrecy. It appears that Angelina never broke her word: “Mother never mentioned the painting to us either before or after she became ill,” says Sister Angela Marie. “She kept the secret in her heart.”

Ferruzzi entered the portrait in a prestigious 1897 exhibition in Venice. While he later denied there was any intention of portraying the Blessed Mother, he provocatively titled the work “Madonnina,” or “Little Mother.”

But Catholic art lovers in Italy promptly perceived it to be a fresh and charming depiction of Mary and the Christ Child. That misconception is probably responsible for the painting’s enduring popularity—the image is a dependable seller in stores that sell religious goods.

A few other Ferruzzi paintings warranted exhibition in the elite museums of Venice and Turin, winning him contemporaneous acclaim. But today Ferruzzi is all but forgotten, save for his “Madonnina” that became well-known in Italy and the international Catholic world.

The heavy influx of Italians passing through Ellis Island in the early 1900’s introduced Catholic America to the portrait, which was embraced enthusiastically. The image showed the young girl’s vulnerability and sweetness. In addition, the timeless nature of her mantle and the cold background suggested the new title under which the artwork was so successfully marketed: “Madonna of the Streets.”

Significance of the Artwork

While Sister Angela Marie is delighted by the popularity of her mother’s portrait, she explains why her relatives don’t like the title “Madonna of the Streets.” “My family in Italy feels that streets refers to prostitution,” she says. “The original title, ‘Madonnina,’ actually means ‘Little Mother.’” That interpretation is a more accurate description of the young girl holding her baby brother.

This famous painting became more meaningful to Sister Angela Marie Bovo after she discovered that the subjects were close relatives.  Sister Angela Marie says, “The family has tried to locate the original—I would love to see it.” The painting vanished from Italy, perhaps during World War II. It may be in the innocent hands of someone who has no idea of its value or its significance to the Bovo family.

Sister Angela Marie says the most recent lead suggests that it is “somewhere in Pennsylvania,” unwittingly donated by an unidentified priest to a parishioner’s private art collection about 50 years ago. The family hasn’t given up hope of finding their missing Madonnina. “We wouldn’t question the ownership at all. We just wish to see the painting with our own eyes—touch the brush strokes, realize the true colors and know that they were applied at the moment the artist was close to our mother and uncle.”

--Story by Barbara E. Stevens


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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Virgin A Day: Reflections on the Black Madonna

410px-CzestochowskaCzestochowa Basilica in the Jasna Gora monastery, the Virgin of Czestochowa, lime-wood, painting attributed to St. Luke, restored 1433

Reflections on  The Black Madonna (Excerpt) by Sue Monk Kidd

“ Images of a divine mother are surprisingly important in the psychological wholeness of women, especially in the process of women taking up residence in their own authority… Mary has quietly, even subversively, functioned as the feminine dimension of God in much of western religion. I read an essay by author Kathleen Norris in which she made the amazing statement that Mary is particularly suited to post-modernism. She didn’t elaborate on the reason, but my guess is that Mary, fresh with feminist appropriations, has the potential to undergird women’s reformations. "

Madonna and Child of Soweto Larry Scully Johannesburg, S.A. 1973Madonna and Child of Soweto/Regina Mundi Catholic Church, Larry Scully 1922-2002/Johannesburg, South Africa. Painted in 1973,
"I felt that any image of Mary in the novel (The Secret Life of Bees) would have to be black. Not only because the women who revered her were black, but because historically Black Madonnas have often been at the root of insurgence.”

Our Lady of MontserratThe Virgin of Montserrat is a statue of the Virgin Mary and infant Christ venerated at the Santa Maria de Montserrat monastery in the Montserrat mountain in Catalonia. It is one of the black Madonnas of Europe, hence its familiar Catalan name, la Moreneta ("The little dark-skinned one").

 “It was a revelation to me that hundreds of very old Black Madonnas exist in Europe and elsewhere, and that their darkness is a legacy of ancient black goddesses. I think of the Black Madonna as the White Madonna before the church scrubbed the really interesting stuff out of her. I began to study the Black Madonna, and to travel to her pilgrimage sites, especially in France. I discovered that many of her stories and history reveal a Mary who is openly defiant in the face of oppression. In Poland, South and Central America, and other places, she has been a symbol of revolution.

blackmaddonnabreznice (1)The Madonna of Breznice In the museum Convent of St. Agnes of Bohemia, in Prague, in the Stare Mesto part of town, one block from the Vlatva river, U Milosrdnych 17, 1396, 41.5 x 29.5 cm, tempera and gold on parchment and linen.

“I decided I would create a Black Madonna for the novel, (The Secret Life of Bees) who had existed during slavery in the South, and that she would be a symbol of freedom and consolation.”

All quotations excerpted from Sue Monk Kidd’s website

And Now enjoy A Tour of Many beautiful images of the Black Madonna throughout Europe.

Black Madonnas of Europe

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Day 7–A Virgin A Day: Harissa of Lebanon & The Virgin Mary Flotilla


source_4c77d981b9ad0_Ladylebanon (1)“Many of the Christian holy sites dedicated to the Virgin Mary are also visited by Muslims. The most famous example is that of Harissa, a statue of Virgin Mary, known as Our Lady of Lebanon or Notre Dame du Libans.”

"Multi-religious heritage: There are 17 Islamic and Christian denomination officially recognized in Lebanon. Nour Farra-Haddad has done research into interreligious places of pilgrimage in Lebanon. She figures that there are about thirty religious sites that are used in common by the members of different religious communities. Farra-Haddad conducted countless interviews with pilgrims to these locations, asking about their religious affiliations and motivations. According to the researcher, none of the faithful attempted to hide their religious identity. The devotion of saints by different religious groups was regarded as something normal.
In addition, the motives of Christian and Muslim visitors were identical. People came to pray to be healed from illnesses, for protection, help with love life, or success in exams at school or university, explains the anthropologist from Saint Joseph's University in Beirut. Pilgrims are prepared to leave behind money and offerings. The profile of a holy site depends on its "success" – namely to what extent the faithful believe their prayers have been answered.
Farra-Haddad has sorted these interreligious holy sites into a number of categories. There are places, such as the cave in Afqa, that has been regarded as a holy site for thousands of years. The tradition continues under the guise of different religious circumstances. The site retains its particular significance in the consciousness of believers.”

source_4c77dc82ddd84_AphroditePictured: the remains of a temple to Aphrodite

”The gigantic white stone statue of Mary stands on a mountain next to an imposing cathedral. Both can be seen from the highway just outside of the coast city of Jounieh. Although Muslims and Christians have their own image of Mary and her significance, their behaviour at the holy site is quite similar.
Another category consists of the "national saints," such as Mar Charbal and the Holy Rifqa. In this case, the holy sites are devoted to Lebanese Christians supposedly responsible for miracle cures and named saints by the Catholic Church. They clearly belong to one denomination, but are nonetheless recognized in Lebanon far beyond their own religious community as being pious and godly people.”

All Words are directly from this site:

A Miracle:  Lebanese Muslim Aid flotilla to Gaza Muslims in the name of the Virgin Mary

Lebanese Aid Flotilla Virgin Mary

For more beautiful virgin sightings see Recuerda mi Corazon