The Assumption: how the Christian arts honour the Virgin Mary

The Assumption: how the Christian arts honour the Virgin Mary


Rosa Mystica

(Gerard Manley Hopkins)

'The Rose in a mystery' - where is it found?
Is it anything true? Does it grow upon ground?
It was made of earth's mould, but it went from men's eyes
And its place is a secret, and shut in the skies.
In the Gardens of God, in the daylight divine
Find me a place by thee, Mother of mine.

* * *

But where was it formerly? Which is the spot
That was blest in it once, though now it is not?
It is Galilee's growth; it grew at God's will
And broke into bloom upon Nazareth Hill.
In the Gardens of God, in the daylight divine
I shall look on thy loveliness, Mother of mine.

* * *

What was its season, then? How long ago?
When was the summer that saw the Bud blow?
Two thousands of years are near upon past
Since its birth, and its bloom, and its breathing its last.
In the Gardens of God, in the daylight divine
I shall keep time with thee, Mother of mine.

* * *

Tell me the name now, tell me its name:
The heart guesses easily, is it the same?
Mary, the Virgin, well the heart knows,
She is the Mystery, she is that Rose.
In the Gardens of God, in the daylight divine
I shall come home to thee, Mother of mine.

* * *

Is Mary that Rose, then? Mary, the Tree?
But the Blossom, the Blossom there, who can it be?
Who can her Rose be? It could be but One:
Christ Jesus, our Lord - her God and her Son.
In the Gardens of God, in the daylight divine
Shew me thy Son, Mother, Mother of mine.

* * *

What was the colour of that Blossom bright?
White to begin with, immaculate white.
But what a wild flush on the flakes of it stood,
When the Rose ran in crimsonings down the Cross-wood!
In the Gardens of God, in the daylight divine
I shall worship the Wounds with thee, Mother of mine.

* * *

How many leaves had it? Five they were then,
Five like the senses, and members of men;
Five is the number by nature, but now
They multiply, multiply, who can tell how.
In the Gardens of God, in the daylight divine
Make me a leaf in thee, Mother of mine.

* * *

Does it smell sweet, too, in that holy place?
Sweet unto God, and the sweetness is grace;
The breath of it bathes the great heaven above,
In grace that is charity, grace that is love.
To thy breast, to thy rest, to thy glory divine
Draw me by charity, Mother of mine.

From Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1948,
Oxford University Press.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889) is one of the great unsung poets, virtually unknown in his lifetime. We have his poetry today only because it was collected and published by his friends after his death.

At 22 he converted from the Church of England to the Catholic Church being received there by John Henry Newman. He later joined the Jesuit Order.

Hopkins' output of intense, deeply felt religious poetry quickened after 1875, when he wrote 'The Wreck of the Deutschland', about the heroic sacrifice of a group of German nuns who were crossing the North Sea to England when their boat sank in a storm.

His mental and physical health had always been fragile and he died in Dublin in 1889, aged 44. The first collection of his poetry was published in 1918.

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617-82) was an artist whose many religious paintings emphasised the peaceful, joyous aspects of spiritual life.

One striking characteristic of these works is the illuminated mist, populated with angels and cherubs, that surrounds the central figures.

He was the first Spanish painter to achieve renown throughout Europe, especially in England.

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