The Joyful Mary and St. Ignatius

Statue of Mary with baby Jesus - image provided by Denise GorssMy mother has a figurine of Mary joyfully holding the baby Jesus. She raises him up playfully, and we see their eye contact and the happiness of a young mother spending time with her child. Mary’s flowing hair and dress convey a sense of motion. It’s an image that appeals to me. This is not the dressed all in blue, beautiful yet motionless Mary conveyed in some Marian imagery. This is the human Mary, the young woman enjoying her son.

It only recently occurred to me that St. Ignatius might have liked this small statue. Ignatius had a strong devotion to Mary. He had a consoling vision while convalescing of Mary with the child Jesus. He held vigil before Our Lady of Montserrat, laying down his sword to begin his new life. Mary also played a role in several other incidents during his lifetime.

The Spiritual Exercises invite the retreatant to imagine Mary’s experience at the Annunciation, imagine being at the Nativity, and imagine standing near Mary at the Crucifixion and rejoicing three days later with her at the Resurrection. These are all moments calling forth deep human emotions. Despite everything she would suffer for her child, Mary the mother first experienced joy in knowing her child as a newborn. Mary is our mother, too. Do we picture her as a far-off queen of heaven, too holy to approach? Or do we picture her as a joyful, approachable mother? Ignatius would have us approach Mary, praying with him to “place me with your Son.”

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Denise Gorss
Denise Gorss volunteers as a junior-high catechist. She appreciates the gifts of Ignatian spirituality and likes sharing various types of prayer with the young people in her groups. She enjoys seeing the world on pilgrimages and lives in the Chicago area, where she works as Web Editor at Loyola Press.


  1. The lovely statue of Mary holding up Jesus is beautiful! I’m so sorry to hear that it is discontinued as I also would very much like to have one. Thank you for your reflection.

  2. This is a very lovely statue which reminds me so much of one which was made for me while I was headteacher of a Catholic Primary school. I wanted a statue of Mary to express her openness and always giving her child to the world. I spoke ot a parent who was a scuptress who crafted a statue of Mary sitting and holding the toddler Jesus facing outwards from her taking his first steps. It stood in the entrance lobby by the entrance ot our assembly hall and the eyes of Jesus at the eye- level of the children was commented on by many visitors. Many of those children are now grown and with children of their own and still ask to take pictures of this statue.

    • Margaret, do you have a photo of that statue you could share with us? It sounds like a lovely image of Mary and Jesus!

  3. Thanks for a great reflection to kick off May. Since I was little, we’ve had May altars, bringing the springtime blooms into our California kitchen. I like to put a statue of Mary right in the middle of our action–the busy counter. When I place the blossoms, I sing one of the hymns I learned in childhood. I remember being a first-grader chosen to bring a basket of flowers forward, representing my class. We praise the son through his mother.

  4. Please help where can I but a statue of Mary with Christ Child ? playing and raising the Christ child ?

  5. Yes, lovely statue. I don’t think I have seen Mary in such a playful image, before. Thank you for the reminder.

  6. Denise: A lovely image of Mary and a thoughtful piece. I love this statute so much — do you know where I might be able to get one, too? Thank you!


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