Our Lady Says Farewell to Christ,
Painted by Piotr Stachiewicz (1858-1938),
Painted in 1894,
Oil on wood
© National Museum of Krakow
The Immaculate Heart of Mary
Every year the parents of Jesus used to go to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up for the feast as usual. When they were on their way home after the feast, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem without his parents knowing it. They assumed he was with the caravan, and it was only after a day’s journey that they went to look for him among their relations and acquaintances. When they failed to find him they went back to Jerusalem looking for him everywhere.
Three days later, they found him in the Temple, sitting among the doctors, listening to them, and asking them questions; and all those who heard him were astounded at his intelligence and his replies. They were overcome when they saw him, and his mother said to him, ‘My child, why have you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you.’
‘Why were you looking for me?’ he replied. ‘Did you not know that I must be busy with my Father’s affairs?’ But they did not understand what he meant.
He then went down with them and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority. His mother stored up all these things in her heart.
Reflection on the painting
The Catholic Church celebrates the memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary the day after the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We describe the heart of Jesus as being sacred, because his heart reveals the heart of God, a heart of pure love. We describe the heart of Mary as Immaculate because her heart is pure and given over in complete love to her Son, accepting the mission from his Father.
Mary gave her heart completely to her Son. When we give our hearts to someone, it completes us but also makes us vulnerable. When the person we love is upset, or hurt, or suffers or leaves these earthly shores, we are hurt and upset too. The Gospel reading today describes how Mary suffered when she lost Jesus for three days…. and how much more suffering was to come, because of giving her heart completely to her son.
Our painting by Polish artist Piotr Stachiewicz, executed in 1894, depicts Mary saying farewell to her Son. She is holding Jesus close to her immaculate heart. She caresses his head and he kisses her right hand, being grateful for all she has done. His walking staff and water flask are ready to be picked up for Jesus to be on his way. Whilst this scene is not described in any biblical passage, it depicts Jesus before leaving for his final journey to Jerusalem, which he knows will lead to his Passion and death. Saint Joseph is standing quietly, discreetly in the background. This painting illustrates tenderly how Mary, by giving her immaculate heart to the Father and her Son, would endure all the suffering to come… with grace and with love.
Share this Gospel Reading
Did you like this Gospel reading and art reflection?
Join in the discussion about this artwork & Gospel reading
Readings related to Luke 2:41-51
Join our community
In addition to receiving our Daily Gospel Reading and Art Reflection, signing up for a free membership allows you to: