MembersArt for Christ’s Sake

On a visit to the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, I could not help but ponder the impact Christian art has had on how we understand Jesus, the gospel and the Bible.

By Aviel Schneider |
Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth
THE IMMACULATE MISCONCEPTION: The Madonna is depicted in many ways in the eyes of the nations, but nowhere is Mary seen as Miriam, a Jewish daughter of Israel

Christian tradition believes that the basilica marks the place where the angel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary and told her that she would give birth to the Messiah (Luke 1:26-38).


At the entrance to the church there are artistic depictions of the annunciation from around the world. They all portray Mary (whose original name of course is Miriam), sometimes alone and sometimes with the baby Jesus, and each nation has created its own unique cultural image of the biblical story.


The Chinese painted Mary and Jesus with slanted eyes and pale white skin. The Korean Mary and Jesus looked Asian. Egyptians and Spanish created a dark-skinned Mary and the Indonesian Mary looks like a heavenly fairy from a fantasy. To the Vatican, the “Mother of God” is a slender, somber damsel. Romanians made Mary look like a typical icon and the Thai Mary, with Jesus in her arms, appears as a delicate goddess from the Far East.


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