This is Mary, Throne of Wisdom (late eleven hundreds, Burgundy, France), as seen in Collegeville, Minnesota’s Saint John’s Abbey Church side chapel (epistle side if you can say such a thing in such a church). You can see this type of statue scattered throughout this part of Europe, always the same, more or less, with Jesus holding an orb, though here He is holding the Scriptures.
As a kid, I would go and kneel before this statue (I had three different addresses as a kid). At the time there was a kind of kneeler / altar rail type arrangement, which I didn’t like, because I wanted to be closer. I vaguely recall bringing a flower in and putting at her feet, crawling over the rail to do so.
You’ll notice the eyes of both Jesus and Mary are open. Keep that in mind while we take a tour of Chartres, going down into the crypt:
If one continues, and passes the well, they will come upon something that the very first Christians are said to have witnessed when they came to Chartres. They found there a statue of a woman seated upon a throne with a child on her knee, a statue that had been venerated by the Druids. It appears that they were aware of Isaiah’s prophesy that a virgin would conceive and bear a son. The statue was described by a 17th century thus:
“The Virgin sits on a chair, her Son sits on her knees and He gives the sign of blessing with His right hand. In His left hand He holds an orb. He is bare-headed and His hair is quite short. He wears a close-fitting robe girdled with a belt. His face, hands and feet are bare and they are of a shining grey-ebony color.
The Virgin is dressed in an antique mantle in the shape of a chasuble. Her face is oval, of perfect construction, and of the same shining black color. Her crown is very plain, only the top being decorated with flowers and small leaves. Her chair is one foot wide with four parts hallowed out at the back and carved. The statue is twenty-nine inches tall.”
It is interesting to note that the eyes of the Divine Child were open, while the Madonna’s eyes were closed. According to Cecil Headlam, the Druids “intended by this device to signify that faith was still in darkness, and that she whom they worshiped [venerated?] was not yet born. But the eyes of the Child, whom she in the fullness of time should supernaturally conceive and bear, were open; for He was without beginning and without end, the Spectator of all time and all existence.”
Very cool, that. So, a flower perhaps like the one I gave to Mary in the days of yore. This is from outside the rectory, along the driveway. It looks like some sort of self-lit creature on the ocean floor. I admit to tweaking the contrast and brightness: