Giovanni Battista Tiepolo painted this stunning depiction of the Virgin Mary in 1767-1768. The work was part of a project of seven altarpieces commissioned by King Charles III of Spain for the new Church of San Pascual, under construction in Aranjuez.

A Breathtaking Image Of The Immaculate Conception

Immaculate Conception Tiepolo
A Breathtaking Image Of The Immaculate Conception

The Baroque painting, corresponding to traditional Christian iconography, and represents the Blessed Virgin’s Immaculate Conception, free from original sin. Although an ancient belief of Catholic Tradition, it was dogmatically defined* much more recently – in 1854 – by Pope Pius IX in his encyclical, Ineffabilis Deus.

Iconographic elements include the dove, symbolizing the Holy Spirit. The stars surrounding her head and the crescent moon under her feet are drawn from Revelations 12:1, “Woman clothed with the sun.” Lillies and roses symbolize her purity and Queenship. She crushes a serpent under her feet, her hands held together in prayer, and the obelisk on her right (“Tower of David”).

Since 1827, the painting has been housed on display at the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain.

*We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of the Omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and therefore should firmly and constantly be believed by all the faithful.

Read a short excerpt of the encyclical here.

Read the whole thing here.

Pope Francis’ Prayer For The Immaculate Conception

O Mary, our Immaculate Mother,
On your feast day I come to you,
And I come not alone:
I bring with me all those with whom your Son entrusted to me,
In this city of Rome and in the entire world,
That you may bless them and preserve them from harm.

I bring to you, Mother, children,
Especially those who are alone, abandoned,
And for this reason are tricked and exploited.
I bring to you, Mother, families,
Who carry forward life and society
With their daily and hidden efforts;
In a special way the families who struggle the most
For their many internal and external problems.
I bring to you, Mother, all workers, both men and women,
And I entrust to you especially those who, out of need,
Are forced to work in an unworthy profession
And those who have lost work or are unable to find it.

We are in need of your immaculate gaze,
To rediscover the ability to look upon persons and things
With respect and awareness,
Without egotistical or hypocritical interests.
We are in need of your immaculate heart,
To love freely,
Without secondary aims but seeking the good of the other,
With simplicity and sincerity, renouncing masks and tricks.
We are in need of your immaculate hands,
To caress with tenderness,
To touch the flesh of Jesus
In our poor, sick, or despised brethren,
To raise up those who have fallen and support those who waver.
We are in need of your immaculate feet,
To go toward those who know not how to make the first step,
To walk on the paths of those who are lost,
To find those who feel alone.

We thank you, O Mother, because in showing yourself to us
You free us of all stain of sin;
You remind us that what comes first is the grace of God,
The love of Jesus Christ who gave his life for us,
The strength of the Holy Spirit which renews all things.
Let us not give in to discouragement,
But, trusting in your constant help,
Let us engage ourselves fully in renewal of self,
Of this city and of the entire world.
Pray for us, Holy Mother of God!

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