Cover image for The cult of the Virgin : offerings, ornaments and festivals
The cult of the Virgin : offerings, ornaments and festivals
Boyer, Marie-France, 1942-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London : Thames & Hudson, [2000]

Physical Description:
112 unnumbered pages : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BT595 .B88 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The Virgin Mary is a dazzling icon, frequently escaping from the Church's strict constraints. She is a symbol of faith and hope, as well as one of beauty and celebration. This book explores the many faces of the Virgin Mary around the world and the rites and ceremonies associated with her.

Author Notes

Marie-France Boyer is a freelance journalist, and the Paris editor for The World of Interiors magazine

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Two new books focus on the almost seductive allure of the Virgin Mary. In Boyer's sumptuously illustrated Cult of the Virgin, a tremendously diverse array of images of the Virgin Mary are offered for visual consumption. Spanning both time and geography, these extravagant representations reflect the enormity of the cross-cultural and--according to the author--almost cultlike devotion bestowed upon the Holy Mother by centuries of dedicated believers. While the accompanying text provides an analysis of the history and the intensity of Marian worship, the gorgeous color photographs are fully capable of standing on their own. A feast for the eyes as well as the soul. On a more personal level, Donofrio, a divorced single mother and admittedly lapsed Catholic, recounts her often painful spiritual odyssey from bitter nonbeliever to staunch devotee of the Virgin Mary. Disconnected from her son and comforting images of the Virgin Mary, she decides to undertake a pilgrimage to Medjugorje in order to fill her heart with the love and the faith she has been missing. Juxtaposing her remarkable experiences in Medjugorje with revealing vignettes from her troubled past, she paints a full-bodied portrait of her inner struggle to achieve grace. --Margaret Flanagan

Publisher's Weekly Review

Gorgeous color photography and a well-conceived layout mark this art book about the veneration of Mary, but the text is less than inspired. Author Boyer has a keen eye for detail, noting the incongruity, for example, of contemporary Spanish women who don the respectable black mantilla for processionals, when the veil is almost as long as their miniskirts. But Boyer's sparse text is all description rather than analysis. The chapter on Black Virgins notes the stubborn presence of black statues, icons and paintings of Mary in Europe and elsewhere, but at no point does Boyer ask the obvious question: Why? For instance, why would 16th-century EuropeansÄsome of whom were in the business of exploiting and enslaving darker racesÄsimultaneously choose a Black Madonna to adore? A later chapter on syncretism observes the universal tendency to superimpose Mary worship on local goddess traditions, but the only explanation Boyer ventures for this phenomenon is to hint that the natives upon whom Catholicism had been foisted could discover "in the Virgin Mary an extension of their own beliefs." This book is best appreciated for its 173 vivid, full-color representations of worldwide Mary worship, from early icons and the jewel-encrusted robes that enveloped Mary statues to the contemporary practice of pinning baby booties to a shrine when the Blessed Mother is credited with a successful conception and delivery. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Prefacep. 10
First Facesp. 14
Mother Figurep. 26
Black Virginsp. 34
Votive Offeringsp. 48
Seven Sorrowsp. 56
Processionsp. 70
The Holy Houses of Loretop. 80
Syncretismp. 84
Shrinesp. 96
Modern Timesp. 104
Acknowledgments Photographic Creditsp. 112