All Generations Must Call Mary Blessed

Estonian Museum Display Desecrates Our Lady’s Image

(photo: William Ellison, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

At the least, it’s uncalled-for.

In essence, it’s an act of aggression toward the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The recently-opened National Museum of Estonia in Tartu includes an exhibition on the Protestant Reformation to commemorate, I assume, the movement’s 500th Anniversary in 2017.

I don’t have a problem with that. The Protestant Reformation was a political and economic movement that is part of world history. That a museum would form an exhibition giving the historical facts and figures is, to me, understandable.

What I do have a problem with is a display includes in the exhibit that desecrates an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The interactive display projects a virtual image of Our Lady of Grace on a screen inside a glass case. When visitors kick the foot outline on the plinth supporting the case, the Blessed Mother’s image “shatters” into pieces and the word “Reformation” boldly takes its place. After, the screen refreshes and the unholy process begins all over again.

The museum’s Facebook page describes the atrocious display as an “artistic representation of the theme of iconoclasm.”

Perhaps that’s the way museum administrators see it, but for those who love our Blessed Mother, it’s a travesty.

Here’s what Archbishop Urmas Viilma of the Estonia Evangelical Lutheran Church said about it on his Facebook page:

 I very seriously doubt that this exhibit is suitable for the permanent collection of the National Museum of Estonia, even if it is interesting from a technical point of view or from the perspective of modern approach to the depiction of historical events. The Virgin Mary for a huge number of believers is not some historical figure or event, gone into oblivion, but a reality today. The ridicule was an insult to the feelings of believers.

 Our Lady is not merely a stature or an idea, but a real saint who resides with God. She is always present with the faithful on Earth and she intercedes on our behalf. She is the ultimate incarnation of woman, sinless and holy, and the Mother of God. As such, she deserves the utmost respect, not to be treated with disrespect.

The archbishop pointed out that, even though it’s an image that can’t possibly harm Mary physically, it’s still unacceptable.

While visitors are destroying a virtual image of a statue, and cannot in any way harm Our Lady, the desecration of her image is still unacceptable. Even from an educational perspective. The Protestant Reformation was largely a political and economic movement, in addition to a religious schism. Our Lady was not part of that evil. Her role in our world served to facilitate our salvation. She does not deserve for her Holy name, or her image to be desecrated.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary has been treated so disgracefully. Even more sadly, it likely won’t be the last.

That’s exactly why it shouldn’t be ignored.

Mary is our Mother, given to us by Jesus himself as he hung dying on the Cross.

When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ From that hour the disciple took her into his own household. (Jn 19:26-27)

Can we even begin to understand the love Mary has for us? She accompanied her Son through his ministry, Passion, and Crucifixion. She did so for our sakes so that the gates of heaven would be opened to us.

The love she has shown, and continues to show for us is indescribable in terms of its depth.

So, when her image is desecrated – whether it be under the auspices of aggression or “art” (in many cases, it’s one in the same) – we must not let it slip by unnoticed.

We might not be directly able to stop desecrations of Our Lady’s images like the one in the Estonian National Museum. But we can openly and enthusiastically show our love for her in our daily lives and in both big and small ways.

Today, now, and henceforward, tell your Mother that you love her. Mean it, show it, and live by it.