La Vierge au Lait ou l'Allaitement dans l'Art Chrétien


  • Christian Jouffroy Société des Amis des Arts et du Musée de La Cour d’Or, Metz Métropole, Fr


Marian breastfeeding, Maria Lactans, Virgin Mary, Christian Art


MARIA LACTANS IN CHRISTIAN ART Divine Motherhood is an unfathomable mystery of the Catholic faith. Artists have always approached it with fear, modesty and delicacy. The representations of pregnant virgins are rare. In contrast, Marian breastfeeding scenes have been widely disseminated in all countries of Christian culture, from Roman times to the sixteenth century. In the Middle Ages, Lorraine, a region in northern-east France, sheltered many workshops of famous sculptors. By taking into consideration some works preserved in the museum of La Cour d’Or in Metz, I will interpret from a medical and artistic point of view the ones that divine breastfeeding inspired artists from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century in France and Europe. In doing so, I will describe the path from the figurative breastfeeding of the Son of God to the allegory of Virgin Mary as the nourisher of the whole human race, through the symbolic visions of “Lactation” of Saint Bernard and Saint Pierre Nolasco.