“Mary is also the one who obtained mercy in a particular and exceptional way, as no other person has.”
– St John Paul II, ‘Dives In Misericordia’
Icons are said to be ‘written’ rather than just drawn or painted. This writing of an Icon expresses, in a visual way, particular themes or truths of the faith, depending on the particular Icon in question.
One very famous Icon is known as ‘Our Lady of Tenderness’, although it was originally called ‘Our Lady of Vladimir’. I have a copy of this Icon, which I bought in Oxford, England, and it is pictured here. In it, the Child Jesus is seen gently touching or stroking the cheek of His Mother, the Blessed Virgin.
It is a very beautiful and touching moment that is captured or written in the Icon. Such a normal and every-day thing – a child reaching out to the mother, touching her, and the mother responding accordingly. It is something we see all the time. Here, of course, the Child is Jesus and the Mother is Mary.
I said that an Icon visually expresses a theme or truth of the faith. And so it is here.
This particular Icon says something about the relationship between the Lord and His Mother, that deep intimacy which exists not only at the human level but also at the mystical level. This Mother and this Son are entirely inseparable in the work of Redemption – the Lord achieveing it, His Mother united perfectly to Him and supporting Him with all the love of Her Heart and with the perfect fullness of Her will.
But there is something more.
The place taken here by the Child is our place, too. We are called to have that deep and intimate relationship with the Blessed Virgin, for She is our Mother in the order of grace, as certainly as She is His Mother in the order of nature.
Believing this, let us place ourselves in Her arms and with all the love in our hearts, gently come close to Her Immaculate Heart with the perfect confidence of little children.