Friday, April 28, 2006

Mater Admirabilis in Grand Coteau

In Grand Coteau, Louisiana, home of the New Orleans province novitiate for the Jesuits, there is also Saint Charles parish church, a Jesuit-run parish. I had occasion to visit that Church numerous times when I was a novice. The artwork and statuary in the parish is not especially striking, and the colors are rather dull--with one exception. At the front of the church, to the left of the sanctuary is a seemingly out-of-place, colorful and striking portrait of the Blessed Mother. The painting (shown at the left) is very similar to the one pictured above, and obviously inspired by it. I was so taken by the painting that I tried to learn more about it and found out that it was indeed inspired by the above painting, which has an interesting history. I found a nice account of that history, in French, at the blog Fils de Chretiente. If you can read French, and want to read the whole story, go there. I will try a rough summary translation here (my French is pretty rusty!).

In 1844, a young painter accompanied Mother Madeleine-Sophie Barat, founder of the Madames of the Sacred Heart, on a voyage to Rome. She received permission to paint a fresco of the adolescent Mary in the monastery. The painting took a long time to complete. The painter spent thirteen hours alone on the face. When the fresco was finished, the complaint was that the colors were too lively, and the painting was hidden behind a curtain. But a few days later, the painting seemed just right, she had the grace of a bride. Two years later, Pope Pius IX visited, and said of the painting that it was truly the "mater admirabilis." And from that day on it could be found by that name in all the houses of the Madames of the Sacred Heart.

Given that the Academy of the Sacred Heart, operated by Mother Barat's sisters, is also there in Grand Coteau, I suppose it's not surprising that it would find its way into the Jesuit church. After all, it was the Madames of the Sacred Heart that convinced the Jesuits to come to Grand Coteau in the first place!


Blogger Claire Joy said...

Interesting grate she's sitting on. Gives it a very modern feel. But where are her stars? (She has to have stars to be queen of heaven doesn't she?)

11:59 AM  
Blogger Bartalin said...

My birth is due to the intercession on Mater Admirabilis. She seems very powerful ! And she's so beautiful !

I have a prayer (in french), dated 1850, probably from one of my very grand mothers :

O Marie ! Mère vraiment ADMIRABLE ! ADMIRABLE par les grâces et les privilèges dont Dieu vous a comblée; ADMIRABLE par vos vertus et vos mérites; ADMIRABLE dans le ciel par la gloire qui vous environne; ADMIRABLE sur la terre par les grâces sans nombre que vous nous obtennez; ADMIRABLE par la protection vraiment maternelle dont vous ne cessez de couvrir ceux qui vous sont particulièrement dévoués : daignez manifester en ma faveur le pouvoir que vous avez reçu du Coeur sacré de votre divin Fils ! Exaucez ma prière ADMIRABLE Marie !...

Je m'adresse à vous avec la plus entière confiance, et je promets à vos pieds q'en retour de vos bienfaits, le reste de ma vie sera employé à vous gagner des coeurs et à publier partout combien vous êtes ADMIRABLE.

Montrez-vous surtout ADMIRABLE dans ce moment de lutte ou l'enfer semble épuiser toute sa rage contre les enfants de Dieu. Protégez l'Eglise, veillez sur son premier Pasteur, excitez le zèle dans l'âme de ses Ministres. Prenez pitié de cette foule innombrable d'âmes qui courent à leur perte; sauvez-les, Ô Marie ! et reconduisez au bercail ces brebis égarées. Jetez aussi sur moi un regard de bonté; guidez-moi dans les jours de mon pélerinage, et qu'assisté par vous à mon heure dernière, je meure en répétant votre ADMIRABLE NOM.

Mater Admirablis, ora pro nobis. (Three times)

Rome, 1850, Trinité-du-Mont


5:09 AM  
Blogger Mark Mossa, SJ said...


Thanks for the prayer!

2:32 AM  
Blogger missiofthevalley said...

I am trying to track down the whereabouts of "Mater Admirabilis" as was displayed at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Rochester, New York. I attended that school in the 1960s. My memory of the history of that painting is what the nuns told me when I was a child and is not all that complete. However, I know I was told that the painting was painted by a nun who labored extensively over the fact that her work was not worthy of the likeness of the Blessed Mother. Then after the nun went to sleep one night, she awoke only to find the painting as the beautiful work we see--a miracle happened. I didn't know that the painting was of the 19th century. As a child, I always thought it contemporary. I also thought the original was in Rochester, New York. I don't know now reading the comments if that is a copy. The painting or fresco reproduction stood over 10 ft high and if a reproduction, must have been an exact copy proportionally. Also the picture in this website is cut off on all 4 sides--maybe just the picture or may be the painting wasn't completely removed. I have post cards from The Academy of the Sacred Heart showing the full representation of the painting.

4:28 PM  
Blogger TA said...

The original is located above the Spanish Stairs in Rome, Italy.

Anita Landry Thibodeaux, Graduate of ASH Grand Coteau '94

4:11 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

The content of this site is the responsibility of its author and administrator, Mark Mossa, SJ, and does not necessarily represent the Society of Jesus