You are undoubtedly familiar with the famous painting of the “Madonna of the Streets.” This stunning portrayal shows Our Blessed Mother gently caressing the sleeping baby Jesus, sheltering him in her blue mantle and gold veil.
Her eyes shine with seraphic gentleness; her embrace is loving and maternal. The dusty walls that comprise the background illustrate the hardship and poverty endured by the Holy Family.
It is an immensely popular image, but do you know its fascinating origin story?
The original painting, created in the 1890s by Italian artist Roberto Ferruzzi, was actually a portrait of a young Italian girl, Angelina Bovo, and her baby brother, Giovanni. In Venice, the artist saw this young girl holding her little sibling with such care and maternal tenderness, sheltering him against the cold, protecting him like a mother, that he was inspired to paint what he saw.
He entitled the painting, “La Madonnina”—“Little Mother.” He claimed that it was not intended as a portrayal of Our Lady and the baby Jesus, but—especially with the title he chose—he probably knew that people would make the connection.
And they certainly did. Italian Catholics saw the Madonna and Child right away in the image, and Italian immigrants to America brought their devotion to this image with them. The whereabouts of the original painting are unknown, but there are a few possible candidates, including a painting in a collection in Pennsylvania.
Today the image is universally recognized and beloved as a singular portrayal of the love between this most pure and immaculate Mother and her divine Child. At The Catholic Company, we love this image and created a rosary to specially honor the Madonna of the Streets. Blue and gold glass pearl beads recall the lovely colors of Our Lady’s mantle and veil, and an Italian-made centerpiece displays the famous image. Finished with marvelous details, this gorgeous piece is sure to become a family heirloom. Available today at The Catholic Company!