Mary's Visitation in Holy Cards

Tomorrow, May 31, is the feast of Mary’s Visitation (for more on the theme and meaning of this special Marian feast day see the Mary Page). Any Marian feast day is a great opportunity to take a peek into the Marian Library collections and see just what we might have on a particular Marian topic. I found these four holy cards (handpicked from the Marian Library’s collection of about 200,000!), which provide an interesting lens into the ways that various artists, working in different time periods and regions, portrayed the Visitation.

The first two cards were printed in Europe around the mid-19th century. Notice the styles and elements that artists have chosen to represent the visitation scene. Oftentimes, artists rendered scenes such as this in a way that reflected the cultural or aesthetic values of the time. For example, the way Mary is portrayed may often represent one cultures ideals of beauty at a particular point in history.

The last two cards, which are brightly colored, show more recent interpretations of the event. The provenance of both cards is mid-20th century Belgium. Imagery such as grapes, plants, and flowers, as seen on the left, is often symbolic in Catholic art or holy cards. For example, grapes were used as a symbol for celebration, which may have been why the artist chose to include them here.

For more about the feast of the Visitation check out the Mary Page. For more on the Marian Library’s archival collections (including our holy card collection), check out our finding aids on eCommons or come visit us on the 7th floor of Roesch Library!

- Jillian Slater, Librarian/Archivist

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