The Virgen Del Sol of Cordoba

Frequently when we think of beautiful images of the Madonna, our minds naturally turn toward works from the Renaissance in Italy, works coming from the studios of masters like Botticelli, Da Vinci and Raphael -- and rightly so,. However, there is also a very great tradition in this regard that is not to be missed in the Spain (not to mention its historical colonies). Some of those images are, of course, coming from the Spanish baroque, which can be a little overwhelming to some people's tastes. Others, however, are more restrained.

One such example can be found within the famed cathedral of Cordoba, the Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, which at one time in its history was a mosque. That will perhaps be a discussion for another time, for today our focus is squarely on the beautiful painted image of "Santa Maria del Sol" that is found within it. Here you can see it within this setting (and one will also get a sense of the original architecture of the historical mosque and its arches which surround it).  

The image shows Our Lady seated with her hands outstretched in the orans position -- long representative of prayer and something we can already see depicted in the paleochristian art of the Roman catacombs.  She wears her traditional red tunic, covered by a royal blue mantle which it itself ornamented with golden flowers. Her head is crowned by twelve stars and her feet rest on a crescent moon. This, and indeed the entirety of the depiction takes its inspiration from the vision of St. John in the Book of Revelation: 
"A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars." (Rev. 12:1)

Christ is shown depicted in the Virgin's womb, a burst of rays surrounding the infant, thus indeed showing the Virgin "clothed with the sun" (literally and figuratively). 

Some suggest the tradition of Our Lady being depicted in a red and blue comes with reference to the veil of the Holy of Holies within the Temple of Jerusalem for the veil was said to made from these colours. This would, of course, make it a typological reference to Our Lady as the new "holy of holies" and the new ark of the Covenant, veiling within her, not the written word of God (i.e. the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments that were contained within the Ark that was itself kept within the Holy of Holies in the Temple), but the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ.  Others, however, suggest a simpler symbolism of red being symbolic of motherhood, with the royal blue mantle coming with reference to royalty and her Queenship.  Of course, there's really nothing to say that it cannot be both as symbolism can be multi-faceted and it can also develop. 

Whatever the case, the image is, I believe, certainly one of the most beautiful and striking in both form and content, coming from the rich Spanish, Marian tradition.

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