Flowers Associated with Mary from Adoration of Shepherds, Goes, 1476 detail
The Hours of Mary
The following devotions are composed of scripture texts about Mary from the Gospels, Acts, and Revelation.The prayers in the right hand columns are gathered from scripture as well as from popular Christian piety dating from the third century into the modern era.
The Fourteen Meditations
The angel appears to Mary.
Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth
Jesus is born to Mary in Bethlehem
4.The Visitation of the Shepherds
The Shepherds visit Jesus
5.The Adoration of the Magi
Jesus is manifested to the world
Joseph and Mary bring Jesus to the Temple.
7.The Flight into Egypt
Mary, Joseph, and Jesus escape from Herod.
8.The Holy Family in Nazareth
Jesus grows in wisdom and stature.
9.Mary Searches for the boy Jesus
Jesus visits the elders in the Temple
10.The Wedding at Cana
Mary encourages Jesus to manifest his glory.
11. Who is my mother?
Mary tries to take Jesus home while he is preaching.
12. Mary at the Foot of the Cross
Jesus dies, nailed to a cross.
13. Mary with the Disciples at Pentecost
The Holy Spirit descends upon the disciples.
14. The Queen of Heaven
Mary is celebrated as the Queen of Heaven
Queen of the heavens, we hail you,
Hail you, Mother of our Redeemer;
You the dawn, the door of morning
Whence the world’s true Light has risen:
Joy to you, O Virgin glorious,
Beautiful beyond all others;
Hail and all hail, O most gracious,
Intercede for us always to Jesus.
Monastic Breviary, Holy Cross
For a stunning look at a contemporary book of hours in art, as well as illuminated letters, and other inspiring material, see Ellen Wiener's website http://www.ellenwiener.com
And, about to be released by Morehouse Publishing, the excellent devotional, Mary's Hours: Daily Prayer with the Mother of God by Penelope Duckworth http://www.morehousepubllishing.org
Imagine a simple peasant girl who becomes a queen.Or imagine a Queen of Heaven who appears to be a simple young girl.Imagine an ordinary mother pregnant in rather embarrassing circumstances, but knowing secretly what her neighbors do not know: she is bearing the Son of God.It appears she had a choice.When the angel Gabriel told her she would conceive a child by the Holy Spirit, she thought it over and said, yes.And the angels sighed with relief.What if she had said no?
Much loved in the Christian tradition, Mary inhabits an unparalleled place in devotion, theology, art, literature, and the Christian imagination.Accessible and ordinary, lugging water from the village well like any woman, she is also universal and heavenly, clothed with the sun and stars, trampling upon the serpent which tempted Eve.Mary’s attributes exemplify the good mother:intimacy, kindness, humor and playfulness, nurturing , sacrifice, worry and concern, and the ability to exert her influence or remove herself from an event.She is patron of silent contemplatives and champion of active apostolates.The 17th century poet John Donne writes, … yea thou art now Thy Maker’s maker, and thy Father’s mother; Thou hast light in dark; and shut’st in little room, Immensity cloister’d in thy dear womb. We love Mary because she is so close to Jesus, whom we love.She feeds him from her breast, changes his diapers, teaches him to walk and talk, guides and chastises him.She endures his rejection of her and witnesses his terrible crucifixion.Medieval art portrays her braving the bullying of Roman soldiers to tie a cloth over his nakedness.After Jesus is taken down from the cross, she holds his dead body in her arms, bathes it, and places it in the tomb.She laments.She mourns.Mary witnesses his Resurrection, and the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Mary is Jesus’ mother, but also our mother.No wonder Mary is celebrated in poetry and devotion and art throughout the world.We perceive that closeness to her brings us closer to the One who wants to be so close to us.
Toward a Visual Book of Hours
I hope someday that the books of hours I’ve collected will be in book form with line drawings evoking medieval books of hours. The Hours of Mary in particular would evoke medieval “aviaries” such as Hugh of Fouilloy’s Aviarium, The Saint Martin Aviary, Ter Duinen Aviary, the Gloucester Aviary, the Sherborne Missal, The Latin Beastiary, and other Bestiaries.This aviary is in a garden, like a monastic cloister.One of the ancient emblems for Mary is “Hortus Conclusus” – an enclosed garden -“A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.” Song of Songs 4:12KJV . The effect of the arches should evoke a colonnade, or cloister walk.
The line drawings hide symbols and tropes found in the other books of hours and scripture, making (and teaching) subtle connections between texts (an art lost in modern reading and thinking). The drawings also invite the user to color them lovingly, making the book their own in an intimate way.
The following rendering of the Hours of Mary on this website is temporary.I chose Giotto simply for the continuity – but I may change these in time. The birds and symbols missing will be filled in when I find art for them. Let your imagination fill them in the meantime, and, let the texts and prayers themselves create an enclosed garden in which to visit Our Lady in your heart.