In the year America entered World War I, when the eugenic spirit of Darwinism was rising like a specter, when the Nationalists of Germany were getting more entrenched in imagination, when the Turks oust the Jews from Tel Aviv and Jaffa only to be expelled by the Arabs, when the Bolsheviks led by Lenin were rampaging in Russia with Trotsky as the Chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, when Our Lady of Fatima appeared to the three shepherd children in Portugal, when Einstein applied the theory of relativity to the universe, when Plutarco Elías Calles, governor of Sonora, was expelling all Catholic priests long before he started a nation wide bloody persecution, when Pope Benedict XV, the Pope of Peace, promulgated the 1917 Code of Canon Law, when Sigma Alpha Rho was founded in Philadelphia and Boys Town was founded outside Omaha, when all these unrepeatable circumstances and more were breaking out throughout the world, that is when Edmund Blair Leighton painted a manifestation of the mystery of “Maternity.”
In this painting, the cloistered Dominican Nun (perhaps saying the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary) hardly pauses in her stride to take note of the apparition of Jesus and Mary beside her, she not being surprised in the least to see this scene of maternity before her, obviously already fully carrying this great mystery within her by grace.
Cloistered nuns, you have to know, are very much dedicated in their spiritual lives to the maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so that they accompany her in her most tender solicitude for souls around the world. They thank the Lord for their purity of heart and agility of soul by solidarity with His mother. To understand this painting more, imagine the very sun shining out of all three, Jesus and Mary and even the lowly nun… shining! She is not being irreverent to Jesus in not dropping to her knees, she is merely keeping on with her obedience to what she is supposed to be doing at that moment, entirely in communion with the Holy Family the entire time.
Now then, having said that, I’m still looking for more excellent comments on Flores for the Immaculate Conception (No rhyme or reason edition). For the sake of all that is good and holy, don’t choose now to be shy.