A woman clothed with the sun: Theology professor sheds light on understanding Mary atop the Main Building

Author: Notre Dame News


Mary atop the Main Building
The Mary statue atop the Main Building was recently reguilded.

Looking up at the newly regilded statue of Mary atop the Main Building, gleaming gold in the afternoon light, it is not difficult to imagine her as the woman who appears in Revelation, “clothed with the sun” itself.

And that is as the sculptor Giovanni Meli intended, according to Robin Jensen, the Patrick O'Brien Professor of Theology and an expert in early Christian art and depictions of Mary.

In the Book of Revelation, chapter 12, the prophet John the Evangelist describes a vision of a woman clothed with the sun and adorned with stars—a woman soon to give birth to a son who is destined to rule all nations and who will be caught up to God and his throne.

In the Christian tradition, she is identified as Mary, the mother of Jesus.

John goes on in chapter 12 to describe how the woman encounters a great dragon—or an ancient serpent—representing Satan, who seeks to destroy her son and wage war against all who keep God's commands.

“You can see that our statue of Mary is standing on a half globe, with a crescent moon and a serpent under her feet,” Jensen said. “This is very traditional iconography of Mary as the woman in Revelation, where having the serpent under her feet symbolizes victory over evil.”

Read more at nd.edu/stories/golden-hour/a-woman-clothed-with-the-sun


Originally published by Notre Dame News at al.nd.edu on October 16, 2023. Republished at medieval.nd.edu on November 8, 2023.