Catholic Icons of the Virgin Mary

Catholic Icons of the Virgin Mary

Many Catholic icons are stylistically closer to painting than to iconography in its usual sense. In contrast to the Orthodox tradition, the western iconography culture less strictly adheres to iconographic rules, creating recognizable, but less canonic images.

Catholic icons of the Virgin Mary differ from the Orthodox ones not only in style and manner but also in a series of images that often solely belong to the Catholic world.

Catholic icons of the Virgin Mary

Our Lady of the Rosary

The appearance of the image of Our Lady of the Rosary refers to the events of the year 1571, which happened before the battle of Lepanto. At the time, the countries of the Holy League prepared for the battle with the Turks, and participants of the battle prayed to the Virgin with the rosaries, as well as held processions with prayer using rosaries. The Turks were defeated, and after that, Pope Pius V added a holiday of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Victory to the calendar, and the image of the Theotokos with rosary spread throughout Europe.

Our Lady of Good Counsel

The image of Our Lady of Good Counsel, or Mater Boni Consilii, is known from the 15th century. According to the legend, on April 25, 1467, on Saint Mark’s Day, in the Italian city of Genzano, the image of the Virgin Mary with the Child appeared on the church`s wall. It is believed that this image was previously located in the Albanian city of Shkodra before the country was invaded by the Turks. By typical iconography traits, Our Lady of Good Counsel is close to the Orthodox type of the Eleusa icon.

Our Lady of Coromoto

Catholic icons with the image of Our Lady of Coromoto, or Nuestra Señora de Coromoto, are especially revered in Latin America. The original icon is kept in the Minor Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Coromoto. The appearance of the image is related to the local legend, according to which the Virgin revealed herself in a vision to the ruler of the Cospes Coromoto (the indigenous peoples on the territory of current Venezuela). This miracle pushed the Cospes Tribe to baptize and adopt Christianity. In 1950, Pope Pius XII declared Our Lady of Coromoto as the patroness of Venezuela.

Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn

This iconographic type of the Theotokos spread through both the Catholic and the Orthodox world. The icon was historically placed in the Catholic chapel over the Gate of Dawn in Vilnius (Lithuania), hence the name of the image. In this type of iconography, the Virgin is depicted without the Child, wearing a crown and surrounded by the heavenly glow and the stars. The half-length image of Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn is often framed by the crescent lying below.

Catholic icons of the Virgin Mary usually relate to some historical and cult events of western Christendom. They can remind the common Orthodox images or be very different from them. In both cases, they significantly enrich Christian iconography.