What does the Color Blue Say about Mary?
Have you ever looked at an image and felt like you only scratched the surface of the meaning of what it was saying? Particularly in Sacred Art, artists often use symbology and colors to represent deeper mysteries and truths. In the past, most people understood the symbology, while today we are often ignorant of the hidden meanings. For instance, have you ever thought about why Mary, the Blessed Virgin, is often portrayed in the color blue? Maybe it was her favorite color or the color that best accentuated her skin tone? I doubt it. So what does it mean?
As I studied this further, I found some powerful references to the color blue. Firstly, blue was a rare and expensive pigment to come by for artists and thus only used for royalty in the days of Da Vinci and Michelangelo. Yet, it’s deeper meaning dates back even further, for it is said to have been connected to scripture and the commandments in the old testament. “For the people of Israel blue brings to mind the following of God’s Commandments, as opposed to a person’s selfish will,”Philip Kosloski, writer on Aleteia, shares. Furthermore, Dr. R. Jared Staudt, from the Archdiocese of Denver, says, ” [W]hen the ark was to be moved, Numbers (in scripture) specifies that the Levites are to “spread over [it] a cloth all of blue” (4:4). And further: “And over the table of the bread of the Presence they shall spread a cloth of blue” (4:5). Clothing Mary in blue, following the Old Testament, clearly signifies Mary’s role as the new ark and presence of the Lord, as well as his handmaid, who, unlike Eve, perfectly fulfills the Lord’s commands, rather than following her own will.” What was the arc but, the house of God’s word! She bore Jesus in her womb, the living word! Responding to God’s great call in her life and thus became the new living house of God. Royal through Grace. Wow mind blown.
Learning these simple yet profound historical and spiritual attributes of the color blue is eye opening. It is no coincidence nor an arbitrary choice, that Mary is most often clothed in blue. As I looked upon the masters works during my time in Italy, and since, I melt. The deep deep meanings of the images spoke so powerfully even in the simplest of forms. Mary could have only been standing clothed in the color blue and this would have said oh so much. Her virginity and purity is an example to us all, the rarest of all humanity. Her obedience and joy-filled yes to God the Father speaks of her place as His chosen people. And who would have thought the color Blue shares all of that?!
The next time you are gazing at a painting of Mary and you notice her wrapped in blue, pause and think of the powerful messages it shares with you.
Write in the comments below. Tell me, what do you think ?
Kate Capato is an adventurous creative who seeks all things beautiful. She often travels and serves in mission and now shares God’s love through her artistic creations of Sacred Art, Dance, and Photography. When she is not creating or traveling, Kate loves spending time with friends and family while drinking a good glass of wine and consuming extra dark chocolate. To see her work, visit her portfolio below and share in this mission of spreading truth and goodness.
Photo by Igor Miske