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Maria Lactans

Thomas Whitley

The Virgin Mary suckling Jesus, 1530, by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553), oil on canvas.

Mary Breastfeeding Jesus: Christmas' Missing Icon: "It was the takeover of the crucifixion as the major symbol of God's love for humanity" that supplanted the breast-feeding icon, she said. And that was a decisive shift from the earliest days of Christianity when "the virgin's nursing breast, the lactating virgin, was the primary symbol of God's love for humanity."

I won't deny that a suckling Jesus was a popular medieval image (and can be found in some early Christian art), but to call it the "primary symbol" of Christianity in the "earliest days" seems like a bit of overreach to me. And from someone who's book is titled A Complex Delight: The Secularization of the Breast, 1350-1750 (NB to HuffingtonPost: Book titles should be italicized, not put in quotation marks; those represent article titles).

Regardless, how would you react to receiving a Christmas card with a breastfeeding Mary and Jesus on it?