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Painting of the Week: Apparition of St. Francis at Arles

This painting by Fra Angelico was part of the predella that belonged to a triptych of the Madonna and Child with Four Saints (known as the Compagnia di San Francesco Altarpiece), assigned to the convent of Santa Croce in Florence. [Read more…]

Run Toward the Fatherland

By Oliver Davies, excerpted from this month’s free Catholic book.

It is natural for travelers to hurry on to their homeland; it is natural too that they should experience anxiety on the roadway and peace when they arrive home. And so we too who are on the road should hasten on, for the whole of our life is like one day’s journey. Our first duty is to love nothing here, but to love the things above, to desire the things above, to relish the things above and to seek our home there, for the fatherland is where our Father is. [Read more…]

The Two Ways Christ Continues His Mission: A Reflection for Mass

Enjoy this reflection on John 14:15–16, part of the Gospel reading from this Sunday’s Mass, taken from The Navarre Bible: Saint John’s Gospel.

John 14:15–16

Jesus said to his disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always.”

[Read more…]

Painting of the Week: Raphael–The Resurrection of Christ

The Resurrection of Christ, one of Raphael’s earliest known works, is packed with symbolic elements intended to communicate theological truths. Here are some highlights: [Read more…]

Sacraments, Modern Theology, More—4 New Resources Coming to Verbum

If you love Catholic theology and great book deals, you’ll love this month’s Pre-Pub highlights. (Pre-Pub is your opportunity to get books and collections at a discount before they publish. You can see the full list here.) [Read more…]

On Catholicity: A Reflection on This Sunday’s Gospel Reading

The Farewell Discourse, from the Maesta by Duccio, 1308–1311.

Enjoy this reflection on John 17:20–26, the Gospel reading from yesterday’s Mass, taken from The Navarre Bible: Saint John’s Gospel. [Read more…]

Verbum’s Free Book Goes Away Soon

You only have a few days left to get these resources on Mary and the Catholic tradition at a great discount. [Read more…]

Painting of the Week: Balbi Holy Conversation

Tiziano Vecellio painted this striking piece of Mary and Jesus set in an open landscape with Giorgione influences, like asymmetrical composition and full figures. The piece is true to this period in art—with classicistic, refined characters, harmonious chromatic combinations, and an approach built on the psychological ties of the characters. [Read more…]

Queen Mother: Royal Allusions in Matthew’s Birth Narrative

Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash
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In Queen Mother: A Biblical Theology of Mary’s Queenship—currently 50% off on Verbum.com—Edward Sri unfolds common approaches taken to Mary’s role as queen and demonstrates how the “queen mother” theme in the Davidic kingdom sheds light on her presentation as heavenly queen in the New Testament and in the Church.

In this excerpt from chapter three, Sri describes several approaches to interpreting Mary’s role in Matthew 1–2.

One approach to interpreting Mary in Matthew 1–2 in light of the queen-mother figure underscores how Matthew associates Mary and Jesus with the queen-mother-and-royal-son prophecy of Isaiah 7:14. In 1:23, Matthew portrays Mary as the parthenos whom Isaiah prophesied would give birth to the Immanuel child in Isaiah 7:14 (LXX). Thus, “according to the fulfillment of the prophecy, Mary became queen-mother of the Messiah.” In the Isaian oracle, the queen mother of Immanuel brings forth a child who would ensure the perseverance of the Davidic dynasty. Here in Matthew 1, Mary does the same, bringing forth the Davidic heir who would secure the true Davidic kingdom forever. As Serra explains,

Just as she [the queen mother in Isaiah 7:14] gave birth to a son who guaranteed the continuation of the House of David, so Mary gives birth to a son who will reign forever on the throne of David, in the house of Jacob, in the ‘Israel of God’ (cf. Mt. 28:20; 16:18; Gal. 6:16; 2 Sam. 7:16). One notes the royalty of the two women.

Another approach shows the significance of Matthew frequently placing the newborn King alongside His mother. In fact, some have pointed out how Matthew constantly mentioning the child and His mother together—five times in chapter two alone—could draw attention to Mary’s association with her royal Son in a way that recalls the Old Testament queen-mother tradition. Matthew’s recurring phrase “the child and his mother” has “a Davidic resonance” that might bring to mind the way the Book of Kings repeatedly introduces each new Davidic king alongside the queen mother (as discussed in chapter two). As Branick argues:

Matthew has the powerful figure of the Old Testament gebirah or queen-mother in mind as he repeatedly mentions Mary in this story of the birth and infancy of ‘the newborn king of the Jews’ (2:2). Just as the queen-mother was constantly mentioned in the summaries of the Judean and Israelite kings, so Matthew here repeatedly mentions Mary as Jesus’ Mother (1:18; 2:11, 13, 14, 20, 21; 12:46, 47; 13:55).

One more approach to viewing Mary in terms of the queen-mother tradition in Matthew 1–2 examines her position alongside her royal Son when the magi pay Him homage (Mt. 2:11). As mentioned above, this scene involves a number of Davidic kingdom themes: Jesus is called the “king of the Jews” (2:2). The star guiding the magi recalls the star in Balaam’s oracle about the royal scepter rising out of Israel (Num. 24:17). The narrative centers on the city of Bethlehem, where David was born (1 Sam 17:12) and out of which the future Davidic King would come (Micah 5:2). And the magi bringing gifts and paying the child Jesus homage recall the royal Psalm 72:10–11 (cf. Is. 60:6).

[…]

Matthew clearly places his infancy narrative in the context of the hopes surrounding the Davidic kingdom. Interpreting Mary with those Davidic traditions in mind, we can see that, as mother of the newborn Davidic heir, she could be understood as a queen mother.1

For more biblical theological works on Mary, get this month’s free book and other discounted resources.

Editor’s note: This excerpt was slightly adapted for readability. 

Painting of the Week: The Denial of Saint Peter

Caravaggio’s Denial of Saint Peter is thought to be one of the artist’s two last works (the other being The Martyrdom of Saint Ursula). [Read more…]

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