Q: Can you tell me about the Carmelite image of Mary known as "La Brune"?
A: MARIA "LA BRUNE" - Icon of Carmel
La Bruna ("The Brown One"): from the dark colour in which the
complexion of Our Lady is painted.
Explanation of the Icon:
The Icon of Mary, La Bruna, is the oldest image of Mary that has
been adopted by the Carmelites. The composition of the picture contains a number of interesting
details which help to illustrate the values of Mary herself, values moreover which should inspire our
lives and our Marian devotion.
We can discover in this painting, the following symbolic elements and details,
which can be explained as follows:
We can discover in this painting, the following symbolic elements and details, which can be explained as follows:
1. The golden haloes and the golden background to the picture denote, (gold being the colour of the sun), the holiness of the Mother and Child,
infused always by the presence of God.
2. The blue colour of Mary's cloak (the colour of water, symbol of fertility) proclaims her divine Motherhood.
3. The red colour (symbolising love) of her dress underneath her cloak part of which covers the Child, shows the strong love of the Mother towards her Son Jesus.
4. The star with a tail, attached to Mary's cloak, is the sign of her virginity, before, during and after the birth.
5. The colour of the Child's sleeve (lambskin) proclaims: Behold the Lamb of God.
6. The Baby's face is not "babyish," as if to indicate the eternal existence of the Word made flesh.
7. Mary's left hand, which holds her Son safely in her arms, is a sign of her loving care? The right hand, in a response to our request: "Show us Jesus, the blessed fruit...", indicates: "Behold, the way, the truth and the life."
8. The faces of the Mother and the Son are close to each other in an expression of gentle togetherness.
9. The eyes of Mary and of Jesus are turned towards us, out of the picture, and thus they express the redemptive mission of Jesus and the co-redemptive participation of Mary.
Conclusion: all the composition of this picture, an icon of the eleusa or tenderness type, speaks to Carmelites and to those devoted to Mary of the presence of the Virgin Mother of God in the mystery of Christ and of the Church, and invites us to a closeness a familiarity and to an imitation of her and her divine Son, our Saviour.
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