July 23rd 2022

“Madonna of Loreto”, Caravaggio, 1604-6, Cavalletti Chapel, Church of San’ Augustino,  Rome.

This beautiful woman stands in a doorway holding her child. She looks down at an elderly couple who kneel before her.  Their sticks tell us that they are pilgrims and their clothes that they are poor.  The man’s dirty feet are a sign of the distance he has walked to reach this door.  This painting hangs in a Roman Church and the woman might be someone living nearby, except that she has a halo.   This is the Madonna of Loreto and the doorstep is that of the household wherein she and St Joseph reared Jesus, the holy house of Nazareth, now transported , miraculously, it was believed, by angels the Italian town of Loreto.  By the time of Caravaggio, images of Our Lady of Loreto were very popular.  But this image is quite unlike any other.  Our Lady is shown as an ordinary mother with an ordinary child, old enough to run and play with other children in the streets of Nazareth. She is not regal or sad as some artist show her. Her concern is for the elderly couple before her.  This poor couple are honoured with a vision of Our Lady, not as Queen of Heaven, but as the mistress of the holy household in Nazareth.   Today we are asked to pray and give thanks for grandparents and for the elderly.  Perhaps what we are seeing here is a couple reaching the end of their life’s pilgrimage.  As we remember those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith and all those who either directly or indirectly have handed on the faith to us, let us give thanks for them and cherish their significant place within the household of our faith.   


Edinburgh Catholic Chaplaincy

The Catholic Chaplaincy serves the students and staff of the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University and Queen Margaret University.

The Catholic Chaplaincy is also a parish of the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh (the Parish of St Albert the Great) and all Catholic students and staff are automatically members of this parish.

Read more