P A I T I N G • V I D E O: Madonna of the Miraculous Medal




This Madonna was a special commission ordered by a mother-to-be.

My customer is devoted to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.


A Madonna venerated throughout the world whose apparition is believed to happened in Paris, France, 1830.


For every commission I get I research the image's origins.

This Madonna illustrates the vision of St. Catherine Labouré, a nun from the Order of Saint Vincent de Paul.


The medallions were designed in collaboration with goldsmith Adrien Vachette, one of the formers official jewellers from the court of King Louis XVIII.


As some of you may know, I studied Art History and I am fond of learning Marian iconography, as well as mythology, folktales and legends from other cultures and beliefs.


Here is the story about Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and how I interpreted it to recreate a painting in my own style.


First of all, in Christian iconograophy, colors have their own meaning. Blue is related to Our Lady since medieval ages.


This pigment, by the way, was extracted from lapis lazuli crystals, an ornamental stone sourced from east Persia, now Afghanistan. Not all painters could afford to use it then.


As this kind of blue was even more valuable than gold, it was applied mainly on important subjects such as royalty, deities and the Virgin Mary.

You can recognise the Madonna of the Miraculous Medal by her iconography or the main elements in which she is portrayed.


The iconography of the Madonna of the Miraculous Medal, is related to the Woman of the Apocalypse, described in the Bible, Book of Revelations, Chapter 12


'A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head'. [Ap. 12]


The serpent below her feet is related to the Chapter 3 in Book of Genesis. When Adam and Eve were exiled from Paradise, God cursed the serpent for its fault. He said:

'I will put enmity between you and the woman,

and between your offspring and hers;

He will crush your head'. In other versions, it is She who would crush the serpents head, as the Immaculate Conception had immunity from sin.


The 'M' refers to Mary as Mother, Mediatrix that intercedes for humanity.


Cross and bar symbolises Jesus' Cross of Redemption.


I needed to merge the two sides of the medal in one image, so I rearranged it to get a more balanced composition with all the elements visible in one surface.


12 stars around the medal represent the 12 Apostles surrounding Maria. On one side, Her heart appears trespassed with a sword, referring to the prophecy of Simeon and the Sorrows that she would suffer for the Sacrifice of her Son.


In some way, the composition can resemble a uterus and fallopian tubes.


12 stars around the medal represent the 12 Apostles surrounding Maria. On one side, Her heart appears trespassed with a sword, referring to the prophecy of Simeon and the Sorrows that she would suffer for the Sacrifice of her Son.


On the other side, the Sacred Heart of Jesus crowned with thorns.


Around the margin of the frame appeared the words 'O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee'


In St Catharine's vision, Our Lady is displaying rays of light from her hands over the globe, symbolising the graces shed 'upon those who ask for them'.


This is how the story tells that Virgin Mary asked St Catherine to reproduce her image on medallions, promising that

'All who wear them will receive great graces'


In many religions and beliefs, graces mean

a gift of love given without being deserved.


In the image I reshaped the medal and Our Lady's body to resemble an egg, the emblem of the origin of life and immortality, as the hope of life in the beyond.


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© 2019 by Elena San Pietrini • Utrecht • ilumina studio 70436525 • All rights reserved.