From Mary's motherhood to the Immaculate Conception: An iconographic analysis of Marian art in Spain during the tenth to nineteenth centuries
This article analyzes Marian art in Spain from the tenth to nineteenth centuries in order to show how popular piety represented Mary's motherhood. Through art, including architecture, painting, sculpture, and oral preaching, a popular image of Mary emerged and, in turn, became key for understanding the history of the family in western Catholic countries. Studying the evolution of Marian iconography during this thousand-year period reveals a kind of grandeur, and then a certain crisis, surrounding Mary's motherhood. This crisis specifically involves the meaning of the body as an effective sign of the personal gift-of-self. We argue that this process ran parallel to growing problems in theological culture related to reconciling the natural and supernatural realms, and we further sustain that it contains a true cultural revolution, a shift that is at the origin of many later transformations. This interpretation helps better understand the dilemmas surrounding the history of the family in the West, and specifically of motherhood, from the point of view of the Christian tradition.