Sunday, May 13, 2012

"Mother Mary" nursing her baby

You know this old Jewish joke?

"How do we know Jesus was Jewish?
1. He lived at home until he was 30
2. He went into his father's business
3. His mother thought he was God."

Every Jewish Mother thinks her son is like unto God, but Mary took it seriously.

I was so surprised to go down to the old crypt of St. Gerasimus Monastery a few days ago and to see this image on the wall!

Since then I have learned that the Milk-giver icon first appeared in the 6th century and the Greek Orthodox call it Mlekopitatelnitsa, the Milk-giving Virgin Mary.
Although rare, it also entered Western religious art, but maybe 800 years later, where it is known as Maria Lactans.

Mary wears the crown of the Queen of Heaven.

Although this monastery near Jericho is not on the route, a certain Christian tradition has it that Joseph, Mary, and Jesus overnighted here on their flight into Egypt and that in the crypt Jesus learned to take his first steps.
One of my favorite old paintings is this amazing scene by Caravaggio called "Rest on the Flight Into Egypt."
BTW, the carved wooden chest with the slot on top invites visitors to donate money or valuables to the monastery.
I am sure many of the Eastern Orthodox pilgrims are so moved that they contribute generously.
To those of you mothers in countries where today is Mother's Day (not in Israel), I wish you all the blessings of this Sunday.


  1. Best joke ever!

  2. Even so Happy Mother you are!
    Thanks so much for your wonderful blog.

  3. Wonderful joke. Suits very well Georgian sons)).
    very interesting to read "Mother Mary" story.

  4. That's interesting - I've never seen those paintings of Mary before. Reminds me of that German wine, Liebfraumilch.

    Happy mother's day :)

  5. Wonderful entry I couldn't think of. Please have a good start into the new week.

  6. The first part of this post made me laugh out lout. I am going the hospital tomorrow so I may not be able to get back to visit in a day or two.

  7. The Caravaggio is gorgeous...I had not seen it before. The ikon is interesting too. You are a one-person education department for the Holy Land!

  8. I don't suppose that joke originated in Chicago but that's where I heard it, exactly as you tell it, word for word.

    Great post, Dina. You manage to combine, history, faith, archaeology and humor. I've never seen anyone else do it, at least not like you do.

  9. Happy Mother's Day, Dina! You are absolutely the most wonderful mother ever! This is such an appropriate post for today. I've been rather up to my ears since Tif and family arrived yesterday. Every minute is taken. I have a feeling my blogging record (post a day) might be broken now. And I'm still not done with our Trip photo album. Sighhh...

  10. And yes... I have heard that joke before. :-)

  11. I like the saying and it reminds me of another one...

  12. Hello beautiful Dina, thankyou for this icon and the smile haha.

    but but god is within everyone -everyone has the power of the light haha.
    blessed be your children and grandchildren.
    je t'embrasse.

  13. Looking at that image, I'd say that not only did Mary nourish Jesus at her breast, she was quite an extended breastfeeder at that ;).

    Happy mother's day my friend.

  14. hello beautiful Dina
    here is looking at you once more Jerusalem
    In our little missalette this Sunday we have a reflection entitled SHALOM and we think about how when Jesus first resurrected and showed his wounds to his disciples, his first word was SHALOM.Here is exactly what it says-
    Jésus ressuscité se manifeste à ses disciples le premier soir de la semaine en leur disant-shalom,c'est à dire -paix-.

    alors shalom love and light.
    je t'embrasse en la lumière de la paix.

  15. Shalom Dina! This is my second comment, because my computer is acting strangely! Thanks for the beautiful post about mothers. Mary is one of us. It must have been horribly painful for her to see her eldest child executed, something we cannot understand. I think that she is a very special lady.
    I like the jewish joke!


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