“Mondays with Mary” – A Marian Image Painted by Saint Luke (Our Lady of Expectation, India)

According to traditions within the Catholic Church, it has been said that Saint Luke, the author of the Gospel that bears his name, the same author of the Acts of the Apostles, and a companion of Saint Paul, drew a variety of paintings and icons of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Not only was he a trained physician, historian and theologian, but he was also a talented artist.

In the Eastern Church, he is raised to high esteem as the original “iconographer” – the man responsible for the first icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary. You will often see paintings throughout the centuries of St. Luke in front of an easel, painting a portrait of the Blessed Virgin Mary holding the infant Jesus.

Although there are four specific icons that are attributed to Saint Luke, there are other opinions that he drew many more than just these four. The four often attributed to him are – Our Lady of Vladimir, Our Lady of Czestochowa, Salus Populi Romani, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help. As you will see from this online catalog, there are the other paintings attributed to Saint Luke.

The reason I am focusing on this topic today is because in last week’s “Mondays with Mary”, I mentioned that St. Denis placed a portrait similar to Our Lady, which was said to have been drawn by St. Luke. In my research for last week’s blog post, I came upon this image of Our Lady (see image below) –

Our Lady of Expectation (India) – Saint Luke

You will find this image in the online catalog above under the title – Our Lady of Expectation (also an older feast I have written on numerous times). It is believed that Saint Thomas the Apostle, the apostle to India, carried this “scapular” like image, strapped like a breastplate to his body, as he went to India to bring the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.

This image is still venerated today in the main altar of St. Thomas Mount in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. It is the place where St. Thomas was martyred for the Catholic faith.

Devotion to Our Lady goes back to the time of the Apostles. Even though she is our Mother, she was first mother to the Apostles. Also see “Mondays with Mary” – Our Lady of Mylapore, another Marian image and veneration in India.

Although I have written about some of these Marian images in the past as well as written about the Blessed Virgin in Sacred Art, I am going to write on these from time-to-time for the foreseeable future to focus on the Lukan images of Our Lady in the aforementioned online catalog.

Our Lady of Expectation…Pray for Us

“Mondays with Mary” – Seven Days before Christ was Born: What was Mary Expecting?

Historically, in the Liturgical Calendar, December 18 is the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Although this feast is no longer officially in the liturgical calendar, faithful Catholics in the Latin Church still honor this day. The Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the feast anticipating the coming of Jesus Christ on Christmas. In the Spanish Catholic Church, it is still a very popular feast. To read more about it, I encourage you to visit Catholic Encyclopedia – New Advent.

The writing of this blog article has become somewhat of a tradition for me as a writer. This is now the fourth edition of this particular topic and article. The reason I return to this each year is because I think it’s an important topic, and each year, I get new thoughts from different Mom’s. In the future, my fiancée, will be able to share with me her thoughts on what she was feeling one week before our first child was born.

Trying to determine what the Blessed Virgin Mary was anticipating one week before giving birth to Jesus is difficult since her thoughts have been not revealed to us in the Sacred Scriptures. It’s pure speculation at this point. We know the account Saint Luke tells us in Chapter 2 of his Gospel, however, we don’t know much more than this part of the story.

As human beings, we might ask ourselves some questions about this time in the Blessed Mother’s life – was it difficult on Mary to be away from her family and her mother during this time? Even though the birth of Jesus was miraculous, as was his conception, what was Mary feeling? Did she know what was to occur? Was she ready for it? Did she think she would be a good mother? Was she fearful in any way? Did she really completely trust the will of God?

Knowing what we do know about the Blessed Virgin Mary, her own Immaculate Conception, and the Annunciation, tells us that she did completely put her trust in God, just as she had done nine months prior. Mary is the great sign of perfect faith and joy for us, all the time, but especially during the Season of Advent where we are called to wait and to hope.

Our Lady of Expectation

We may not know exactly what Mary was expecting one week before the birth of Christ, here are two testimonies from mothers sharing what they were feeling one week prior to having their child –

Monica said – “The week before my first child was born, I was ready! Ready and waiting, full of excitement and anticipation – and I was exhausted. I remember being so uncomfortable I couldn’t sleep. During the night, I would lay awake wondering about who he/she would be, and praying that child would be exactly what we needed in our live to help perfect and grow us into the people of God had intended us to be. Knowing that this child would be exactly who God had in mind for us gave me great peace and hope and joy, and a ready willingness to be this child’s mother. I also prayed that God would give me the grace to be the mother He intended for this child and I begged then as I beg now for the wisdom and strength to raise a child who will love God above all else and whose goal in life is heaven.”

Cathy said – “The experience for my first born was the polar opposite of the experience for my last 10. I was terrified for the first. My good friend had just had a baby and I saw her in labor. I also attended Bradley classes that I stopped going to because everyone spoke of their bad experiences. I was very excited during my whole pregnancy that I was going to have a baby but as labor approached, all I could think about was the pain I would have to get through. I spent a full day in the weeks leading up to the birth, in bed crying and terrified knowing that it was impossible to turn back. The baby could not stay inside of me forever. When labor finally started, I was still afraid. My was labor was longer than it should be been because I was holding back. Still afraid. My daughter was born and I was happy as can be but still could not understand how many women could do that more than once. I attribute most of that to having a very impersonal hospital and doctor experience.  

Everything was different for the next 10 children. The same friend who I saw in labor found a beautiful Filipino Doctor who went to daily mass in San Francisco. She and I both went to him for our second children and he was excellent. He was personable, funny, and he knew what he was doing. I was excited to have a baby and when labor started I found a crucifix that fit perfectly into my hand. It must have been belonged to a priest who lived in the rectory my husband and I lived in that year. The church had closed and we were housesitting. When I picked up the crucifix, tears welled up in my eyes and I was very excited.

In the hospital, the doctor came in and asked me if I drank jet fuel because the labor was so short. When he told me to push, I told him that I was afraid because my last labor was so long. He said simply said, “that won’t happen this time.” I trusted his confident reassuring words and my first son was born in one push. I looked at my husband in shock and then we both laughed because that was way too easy. I held the same crucifix for the next nine children and every experience was the same. I learned how debilitating fear is and how it makes much more sense to put my trust in God. He always takes care of us, just as He promised.”

If you are a mother, and you are open to sharing with us your experience, please do so in the comment box.

“Mondays with Mary” – What was Mary feeling one week before giving birth to Jesus?

Historically, in the Liturgical Calendar, December 18 (yesterday) is the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Although this feast is no longer officially in the liturgical calendar, many faithful Catholics in the Latin Church still honor the day.

The Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the feast anticipating the coming of Jesus Christ. In the Spanish Catholic Church, it is still a very popular feast. To read more about it, I encourage you to visit Catholic Encyclopedia – New Advent.

Trying to understand what the Blessed Virgin Mary was feeling one week before giving birth to Jesus is difficult since nothing about her thoughts have been revealed to us in the Sacred Scriptures. At this point, it’s pure speculation at best. We know what St. Luke tells us in Chapter 2 of his Gospel, however, we don’t know much more than this account.

Was it difficult on Mary to be away from her family and her mother during this time? Even though the birth of Jesus was miraculous, as was his conception, what was Mary feeling? Did she know what was to occur? Was she ready for it? Did she think she would be a good mother? Was she fearful in any way? Did she really completely trust the will of God?

Knowing what we do know about the Blessed Virgin Mary, her own Immaculate Conception, and the Annunciation, tells us that she did completely put her trust in God, just as she had done nine months prior. Mary is the great sign of perfect faith and joy for us, all the time, but especially during the Advent.

Not only is she the Theotokos (God-Bearer), she is also now our Mother and Advocate. Just as she brought forth Jesus into the world, she longs to bring us closer to Him today, most especially during this Advent season when we await his arrival as a little child.

Mary in Advent

We may not know completely what Mary was feeling one week before the birth of Christ, but below are ten quotes from mothers sharing what they were feeling one week prior to having their child(ren) –

I was always excited awaiting the birth of our four children. We never had any idea if we were going to welcome a girl or a boy– that always added to the excitement! Our fourth child was to be a Christmas baby and was born late on December 22nd after a very long trying birth. I was very excited to go home with the new baby on Christmas Eve day to share the wonderful present that God had given us with the other children. (We were gifted four babies in less than 3 1/2 years!). – Kathy

I was feeling Joy, happiness and I was very excited to see the little faces of my babies. And the most important thing that they were healthy!! And since the first moment that I knew I was pregnant I felt very blessed!!! – Vanessa

The week leading up my son’s birth was filled with excitement, joy and fear. Excited to finally see and hold the boy I’d come to love with a depth I’ve only felt for my children. Joy and wonder for the miracle it was that my flesh was the perfect home for his creation. And utter fear that I wouldn’t have all the answers or wherewithal to handle all that may come. Thankfully, God was by side through it all and faithfully remains my guide and source of strength lighting my path. – Lissa

Well I was becoming anxious since my son was late in arriving. I cleaned house continuously and re-webbed my lawn chairs. I did anything to occupy myself. – Barbara

As my due date drew closer, the anticipation grew in my family and me. I was anxious to meet this little one but at the same time there was so much to do still. My body was tired but my brain was on a roll. At the same time there was a certain tranquility that everything was going to be ok because I was surrounded with people that loved us. – Ann Marie

A week before the birth of my daughter, I kept wondering what she’d look like. What her life would be like. What kind of world she was entering. And afraid–afraid that all the books I had read wouldn’t mean anything when she made her appearance! – Marcella

One week before giving birth, I felt so many emotions, including excitement, joy, anxiety, fear and anticipation. I could not wait to experience the day of bringing this new life into the world, wondering what her little features looked liked and whom she resembled in those features. I could not begin to explain the amount of love I had for this tiny little person I had never met yet, and I was waiting for the day I could hold her. Each day was filled with suspense in that last week of wondering… could this be the day she is here? – Michele

Within 5 years of marriage, my husband and I had 3 children. While each pregnancy was vastly different, the feeling I had one week prior to giving birth was always the same; I couldn’t wait. I was anxious and excited to finally get to see and hold my child, a child I already intimately knew and loved more than words could ever express. Every day just prior to giving birth felt like an eternity, because I knew the moment that I was going to get to kiss and meet my child face to face was drawing ever closer. – Mary

“I felt the anticipation of longing to meet my new son, along with fear of the unknown if I’d be a worthy mom. Also thankful for the gift God gave me!” – Dena

“One week before I gave birth to my daughter, I was feeling super excited to hold this little person who had been growing inside of me. I was thrilled to hear her little cry, smell her, and to see her beautiful face. Also, I was feeling nervous for the labor and delivery part especially because I had her stories from so many other women. I just felt that I wanted to be the best Mommy to my baby girl who I had already fallen in love with.” – Carla

Our Lady of Expectation

Motherhood is vitally important for the growth of civilization. Thanks to the women above for hearing the call to be Mothers. If you are Mom and would like to share your experience of what you were feeling one week before giving birth, please do so in the comment box below. We would love to read and learn from them.