Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Tuesday 01 December |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Charles de Foucauld
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

Why is the Blessed Virgin Mary always wearing blue?

BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

Pietro di Giovanni d' Ambrogio | Public Domain

Philip Kosloski - published on 06/24/17

The color has multiple spiritual meanings, each revealing a different attribute of the Mother of God.

When viewing Christian art from the past thousand years or so, there is one color that is almost always associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary: blue.

Why is that? What significance does it have?


MOTHER MARY

Read more:
Why you should love the Virgin Mary in sickness and health

To start off, the color blue has deep biblical roots in the Old Testament. According to Dr. R. Jared Staudt, the color is specifically mentioned as the color of the people of Israel in the book of Numbers.

Speak to the people of Israel, and bid them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put upon the tassel of each corner a cord of blue; and it shall be to you a tassel to look upon and remember all the commandments of the Lord, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to go after wantonly. (Numbers 15:38-39)

For the people of Israel blue brings to mind the following of God’s Commandments, as opposed to a person’s selfish will.

This was perfectly lived out by the Blessed Mother who said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). She was the faithful “Daughter of Zion” who fulfilled the call of obedience that God had asked of the Israelites.

Additionally, Numbers indicated that “the Levites are to ‘spread over [the Ark of the Covenant] a cloth all of blue’ (4:6). And further: ‘And over the table of the bread of the Presence they shall spread a cloth of blue’ (4:7).”

Mary is traditionally referred to as the new Ark of the Covenant, as she held within herself the Divine Presence of God.

On the other hand, the Byzantine/Orthodox tradition of clothing Mary in blue has a different meaning.

Blue in iconography represents transcendence, mystery, and the divine. It is the color of the sky and as a result is viewed as a heavenly color.

Red in contrast is seen as an earthly color, the color of blood.

Jesus is typically depicted in icons with a blue outer garment and a red inner garment, symbolizing how divinity wraps his humanity.

Mary on the other hand is seen with a red outer garment and a blue inner garment, representing how she carried divinity (Jesus) within her humanity.

When Mary appeared to Saint Juan Diego, she wore a blue-green mantel. According to the Knights of Columbus, “the star-speckled green-blue mantle symbolizes the heavens. In addition, the mantle’s color indicates her royalty, since only the native emperors could wear cloaks of that color.”

So blue is a very important color in the artistic traditions of Christianity and has deep spiritual meanings that bring out different attributes of the Blessed Mother. It is a sacred color, one that reminds us of Mary’s faithfulness and her privileged role in salvation history.


QUEEN OF HEAVEN

Read more:
How the Church’s Easter prayer to Mary brought the end of the plague

Tags:
ArtVirgin Mary
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful...
Andrea Bocelli
J-P Mauro
Andrea Bocelli to perform live Christmas conc...
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to t...
John Paul II
Philip Kosloski
St. John Paul II's guide to a fruitful Advent
CATHEDRAL OF THE SACRED HEART
Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP
6 Questions to determine if your heart is har...
FIRST CENTURY HOUSE AT THE SISTERS OF NAZARETH SITE
John Burger
British archaeologist confident he has found ...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.