the mother figure has been worshipped all through history. in today’s rome, the tradition continues in the form of adoring the figure of mary. these little shrines which romans refer to as ‘madonnine’ – little madonnas – are erected to invoke protection, and they are everywhere in rome.
most madonnine are located between two to five or six meters up from the pavement. this one bears an inscription thanking mary for sparing (most of) rome from the bombs in world war II.
some are simple paintings, while others, like this one, is elaborately sculpted in marble. the thich coat of dust adds charm and character to this infinitely patient figure.
this madonnina on via nazionale is a favorite hangout with the ubiquitous roman pigeons
‘spes nostra’ – our hope – is the caption in latin to this exquisite clay madonnina, who is normally portrayed with the baby, but sometimes goes it alone.
this one truly elaborate madonnina was not on the main face of the building but discreetly tucked away in a dark and narrow side alley, perhaps to honor mary’s modesty.
‘ave maria’ – hail mary – is another very popular inscription. this one looks particularly aggrieved.
this one is a little creepy. in this madonnina there is – unusually – a male figure kissing the baby’s feet, but time has taken its toll on the fresco, and the figure has ended up looking rather like a zombie…
this madonnina on piazza farnese is a mosaic composed of tiny stone pieces. the brighter tiles are gilded with a very fine layer of real gold.
the technique of the fresco involves painting on fresh stucco or plaster, so the color can penetrate the surface. this makes for intense and extremely long-lasting paintings.
someone has left a rose into the slot for the offerings.
in many cases, the light is left on all through the day. this madonnina faces rome’s parliament building
recycle, recycle, recycle. this stone madonnina is far older than the building it has been attached to. as the modern cameras show, the vigilant eye of the madonna is obviously no longer sufficient to ensure adequate surveillance.
this one, on a nondescript wall along the via nomentana is an exquisite ceramic sculpture. older devotees – usually ladies – replace and water the modest little flowers.
this is a photo essay about love. in the religious sense, of course. but it is also about the far more common and understandable love most of us will ever feel: the love towards our own mothers. a deeply felt affection mixed with devotion mixed with respect
my country is rattling right now. we have had earthquakes every day for over a week. people are dying. historic buildings are collapsing. people are losing their homes, their businesses and their hard-owned belongings at an alarming rate. just what nobody needs while already in dire economic straits. today i chose this photo essay because when the earth moves under your feet, if there is one person an italian will turn to, she is portrayed above.
and now to lighten up i will prove to you something you probably never realized. jesus christ was italian.
just look at the evidence: he was still living with his mother at the age of 33. he believed she was still a virgin. and, especially, she was convinced that he was god