Our Madonna von Ravensburg or Our Lady of Refuge Statue is a depiction of Mary holding her cloak wide open to welcome laypeople and clergy alike. This depiction originated in the 13th century during the time of the Black Plague. The artist was inspired by a legal code which guaranteed safety and protection from prosecution to all who found shelter under the cloak of a famous person such as a king or queen.
The original carving of this reproduction is in the Kunstmuseum in Berlin, Germany.
Known most commonly as “the Virgin of Mercy,” the Madonna von Ravensburg or Our Lady of Refuge Statue depicts Mary holding her cloak wide open to shelter royalty, clergy, and laypeople alike. This depiction of Mary is inspired by Legal codes which guaranteed safety and protection from prosecution to anyone who sought shelter under the cloak of a king or queen or other person with authority. Known in Germany as the Schutzmantelmadonna (Sheltering-cloak Madonna), in Italy as the Madonna della Misericordia (Madonna of Mercy), and in France as the Vièrge au Manteau or Vierge de Miséricorde (Virgin with a cloak or Virgin of Mercy), Our Lady of Refuge is a powerful and comforting image for those in desperate need.
Hand-carved Wooden Statue
Measuring 20 inches high, this hand-carved wooden statue is a most fitting gift from a donor or parish community to a church or chapel, especially one under the patronage of Our Lady of Refuge. Each statue varies in detail and shades of color including garments and skin color.
Icon of God’s Maternal Love or “Mother Hen”?
Those seeking shelter under Mary’s cloak are usually depicted on their knees and on a much smaller scale than Mary. They come from every segment and class of Christian society: kings with royal crowns, bishops with mitres, and even popes bearing the papal tiara , and most often, the local townsfolk. Our Lady of Refuge was a devotion practiced widely in Europe, often before a votive portrait. Martin Luther, the leader of the Protestant Reformation, mocked the Schutzmantelmadonna as a “hen with her chicks.” Yet Our Lady of Refuge, the Virgin of Mercy, can also be interpreted respectfully as an icon of God’s maternal love for us: “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you…” (Isaiah 66:13).