Mary's Virtues, Introduction

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Triumph of Virtue - by CORREGGIO - from Musée du Louvre, Paris

The Young Woman at the center wears the Armour of Christ. The Angel behind her Crowns her with a Victory Wreath of Laurel. In the same Angel's left hand is a Palm Branch, Symbolic of Virginity. At the Virgin's feet are the Demons she has defeated, and in her right hand is a broken lance, indicating she has fought hard and well. She has been 'weighed and measured' by the other two Virgins dressed in white, and not 'found wanting'. There is joy in Heaven over her Victory.

The single Tree behind the Virgin which grows straight and tall toward Heaven is Symbolic of the Cross of Jesus Christ. In a companion-painting by Correggio entitled 'Allegory of Vices' , also displayed at Musée du Louvre, we see the background-tree to be Gnarled, Twisted and Broken. Click to display 'Allegory of Vices'.

 

They are true children of Mary
and can call themselves true children,
who strive to imitate her life

 

Note Bene: Bible verses quoted in this Book are from the English Douay-Rheims translation commissioned by the Catholic Church. 

 

Mary Virtues, Introduction

by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

Saint Augustine says that if we wish to win the favor of the saints with greater certainty and in greater abundance, we must imitate them. When they see us imitating their virtues, they are more inclined to pray for us. As soon as the Queen of saints and our chief advocate, Mary, delivers a soul from the grasp of Lucifer and unites it to God, she wants it to imitate her. Otherwise, she cannot enrich the soul with graces. Mary called blessed those who imitate her life diligently: "Now, therefore, children, hear me; blessed are they that keep my ways" (Proverbs 8:32). There is a proverb that lovers come to resemble the persons they love: "Love either finds or makes lovers alike". Saint Sophronius urges us to strive to imitate Mary if we love her, because this is the best way to please her: "My beloved children, serve Mary, whom you love. You will prove that you love her if you endeavor to imitate her". Richard of Saint Lawrence says: "They are true children of Mary and can call themselves true children, who strive to imitate her life". "Let a child, then", concludes Saint Bernard, "imitate his mother, if he wants to have her favor; for when Mary sees herself treated as a mother, she will treat him as her child".

Although the Gospels have little to say about Mary's virtues in detail, we do learn from them that she was full of grace, and this implies that she possessed all virtues in a heroic degree. "So much so", says Saint Thomas, "that whereas other saints excelled in some particular virtue - one in chastity, another in humility, another in mercy - the Blessed Virgin excelled in all, and is offered to us as a model of all". Saint Ambrose says: "Mary was so outstanding that her life was a model for everybody". And he concludes with the words: "Let the virginity and the life of Mary be ever before your eyes like an image, in which the form of virtue is resplendent. You will learn from that image how to live, what to correct, what to avoid, and what to retain".

Since humility is the foundation of all the virtues - as the Fathers of the Church teach - let us consider in the first place how great Mary's humility was.