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A friend told me today how, when traveling in Tuscany, she stopped in a chapel in Monterchi and was inspired by this painting by Piero della Francesca of the pregnant Madonna (La Madonna del Parto or the Madonna of childbirth).
Francesca's is the only known depiction of Madonna in pregnancy from the Italian Renaissance period (though others came later), and it was the artist's unorthodoxy that inspired my friend. The fact that the artist dared to depict the Madonna as pregnant, as human.
Why I post the painting is because it inspires me, too, and reassures me. The implication is that the Madonna, even in the ordinariness of her humanity, is capable of great marvels. It touches me, especially in these frightening times, to think of the tremendous potential of what the artist has depicted as simply human.
Noodling around on the Internet, I was reminded that, in Francesca's lifetime, pregnancy was fraught with danger--a woman routinely made out her will before childbirth. I like this about the painting even more: that a time of great human danger can deliver the Divine.
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