Mary was most likely young, uneducated, and illiterate when Jesus was born. Why then, would the medieval artists at Chartres show her reading a book while at school?
This image of Jesus’s mother foreshadows her role as her son’s disciple, studying the ways of God.
Look, it seems to say, Mary was familiar with the Word of God even before she carried Jesus in her womb.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1 NRSV
Invitation to Pray
Think back to an early experience of the Divine, whether or not it involved words. Now, imagine an image that might convey the preciousness of your sacred inner knowing. Rest for at least 3 minutes with that image. Then, connect with a sense of gratitude. Express it in prayer.
These images of Mary at school (center pane in the fourth row from the bottom) are from the Life of Mary window (1217-ca 1220) in the south ambulatory of the choir in the Chartres Cathedral in France.
An image of the Mary in the classroom can be found on page 16 in Chapter One of Visions of Mary: Art, Devotion, and Beauty at Chartres Cathedral.
To Explore Further
Interested in buying the book in volume? Contact Sister Estelle at Paraclete Press for pricing options.
To see more images from Chartres, visit Jill’s website on the Chartres Cathedral.
Posts with images shown in Visions of Mary: Art, Devotion, and Beauty at Chartres Cathedral (1) The Blue Virgin Window at Chartres; (2) Looking Towards God; (3) Notre Dame de Chartres; (4) An Angel’s Perspective; (5) Mary’s Example; (6) Questioning; (7) Really?; (8) Wrapped in Love; (9) Devotion; (10) Lifted; (11) There’s More…; (12) Celebrating Life; (13) Blessing; (14) Silent Grief; (15) Embodied Support‘ (16) New Ways of Looking; (17) How Are We All Related? (18) Generational Love