Aquinas Learning
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ALJ Issue Vol. 2, Issue 1 Fall 2018

Articles from the fall 2018 edition of the Aquinas Learning Journal.

Of Interest: Portrait of Mary, Mother of God, Influenced by Egyptian Art/Culture

Aquinas Learning members who just finished studying Egypt as part of Cycle 2 might find Revelation 12 (watercolor and ink on papyrus, 2018), artwork by Lara Simpson Neri, interesting.

Lara, a Dallas-based artist, wife, and mother of four, “loves learning about the styles and techniques of other ages and cultures and employing them to create original pieces.”

To create Revelation 12, Lara studied Egyptian art and drew on ancient images of Hathor and Isis to paint Mary, the woman "clothed by the sun" as described in the scripture verse. According to Lara, in Egyptian art and iconography, various elements of a story are related in the same picture, despite happening at different times chronologically. There is a lot going on this this picture!

  • Rather than wearing the cobra crown of the two pagan goddesses Hathor and Isis, Mary crushes the cobra underfoot.

  • Mary is crowned by 12 stars, with the moon under her feet, and she is heavy with child.

  • Mary holds the cross of St. Mark, Apostle to Egypt, and a lily symbolizing her purity.

  • Satan comes to Mary as the seven-headed dragon with ten crowns, with his heads modeled after Set, the Egyptian god of death and destruction. His tail sweeps a third of the stars out of the heavens; two thirds remain. Satan is spewing a flood of water to destroy the woman, and it is vile as it comes out of his mouth; it passes through the Cross, is purified, and the earth, represented as the seat of the woman, swallows up the flood to protect her.

  • The woman is given the wings of an eagle to escape the dragon, and her Son rules as the rod of iron in the heavens, here a combination of the staff of Moses and a bishop's crosier.

  • "Mother Mary" is written in hieroglyphics inside a cartouche—the oval shaped rope that is reserved for the names of royalty.

For more information on Lara, visit her website here. Several of her representational and figurative works depict religious themes, as well as other cultures.

Revelation 12 (watercolor and ink on papyrus, 2018), original artwork by Lara Simpson Neri. Used with permission.

Revelation 12 (watercolor and ink on papyrus, 2018), original artwork by Lara Simpson Neri. Used with permission.

Rosario Reilly