Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn
© Cecilia Lawrence
November 16th 2012
Watercolor and Ink
8.5 by 11 inches"Who is she that rises forth like the dawn,
fair as the moon,
pure and bright as the sun,
and as terrible as a many-bannered army?" - Song of Songs 6:10"Mary the dawn, Christ the Perfect Day;
Mary the gate, Christ the Heavenly Way!
Mary the root, Christ the Mystic Vine;
Mary the grape, Christ the Sacred Wine!
Mary the wheat, Christ the Living Bread;
Mary the stem, Christ the Rose blood-red!
Mary the font, Christ the Cleansing Flood;
Mary the cup, Christ the Saving Blood!
Mary the temple, Christ the temple's Lord;
Mary the shrine, Christ the God adored!
Mary the beacon, Christ the Haven's Rest;
Mary the mirror, Christ the Vision Blest!
Mary the mother, Christ the mother's Son
By all things blest while endless ages run. Amen. "
Yesterday was the Feast of Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn (November 16th). Mary is the patroness of Lithuania under this title.
This particular depiction of Mary is also known as Mother of Mercy and Our Lady of Humility. When Saint Faustina was just beginning to establish devotion to the image of Divine Mercy, this was one of the first places where the image was shown, by the Gate of Dawn in Vilnius, near to this icon of Our Lady.
I generally like to try and depict the icons in their original state and then add on my own details. However, in my depiction of this icon (because I am really OCD about symmetry), I had the crown placed just above her head, instead of off to the side. The wings of the angels are the colors of Lithuania's national flag and also of it's capital, Vilnius. Obviously I went with the theme of "Dawn" with the background, because Mary is the Dawn announcing Christ the Eternal Day.
I imagine that this is the moment when Mary has just given her FIAT and the Son of God has just become a child in her womb. She bows her head in Humility, having just become the Mother of Him Who is Mercy. Because she has just become the Mother of the King, the angels are crowning her as the Queen-Mother of the Son of God. And then while I was doing the gold stars on her blue cloak, I realized that she looks a lot like Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Fancy that. “The painting depicts the complex personality and devotion to Mary. Her head is gently leaning to her right, her eyes are half closed, her hands are crossed in devotion; this reminds that she is a virgin, a humble servant of the Lord, a merciful mother and the patroness of the people. At the same time, her head is surrounded by sun rays and her body is usually covered in elaborate gold and silver clothes and crowns; these are the symbols of her majestic role as the Queen of Heaven. The painting also reminds of Tota pulchra es (You are all beautiful), an old Catholic prayer.” (Wikipedia)
This is the original image of Our Lady of the gate of Dawn (without its gold covering) : upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia…
The image with its gold covering in the chapel of the Gate of Dawn: upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia… "A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and upon her head a crown of twelve stars." ~ Revelations 12:1
A little history of the image: “It is believed that the painting was commissioned by the government of Vilnius. It was customary to place paintings or sculptures of various saints in niches of walls hoping that they would protect the building. The governor of Vilnius ordered two paintings, one depicting Lord Jesus the Saviour ("Salvator Mundi"), and the other the Blessed Virgin Mary. Both of them decorated the Gate of Dawn of the Vilnius city wall – a defensive structure with no religious importance at the time. The painting of Lord Jesus decorated exterior of the gate, while Our Lady was placed much in the same place as it is now–a small niche, protected by shutters from rain and snow. Narrow and steep stairs led to a small balcony where the faithful could light candles and pray. In 1650, Albert Wijuk Kojałowicz published Miscellanea, listing all miraculous paintings of Mary, but did not mention Our Lady of the Gate of the Dawn.
In the mid-17th century the Discalced Carmelites built the Church of St. Teresa and their monastery near the Gate of Dawn. In 1655 the city was captured, looted, and depopulated during the Battle of Vilnius of the Russo-Polish War. Likely the city government, short of funds, transferred maintenance of the gate and the paintings to the Carmelites. The painting of the Lord Jesus was moved the Carmelite monastery and later to Vilnius Cathedral (a fresco of Jesus was painted in its original niche in the 19th century). In 1671, the monks established a wooden chapel, devoted to Our Lady, next to the gate tower. Around this time the painting was covered in expensive silver clothes. By that time, the painting was already an object of public veneration and the chapel dedication ceremony was attended by many prominent figures of the time: Chancellor Krzysztof Zygmunt Pac, Grand Hetman Michał Kazimierz Pac, senators of the general sejm, and others” (Wikipedia) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady… Prayer to Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn O my Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, I offer myself entirely to Thy grace and to Thy overwhelming mercy today and forever, but mostly at the hour of my death do I dedicate myself to thee. To thee do I dedicate my body and soul, all my happiness and hope, all my sorrows and sufferings! I offer my life and the end of my life to Thy holy hands so that through Thy merits all my deeds and acts go according to Thy holy will and according to the will of Thy sweetest Son! Amen. Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn, Virgin-Mother Most Humble, Mother of Mercy and Patroness of Lithuania, pray for us!