The Our Lady of Refuge Figurine is a comforting modern update of a centuries-old representation of Mary. Made of solid bronze, this figurine shows Mary welcoming people into the warm embrace of her cloak. At about 2.25″ high and 3 ounces in weight, this piece weighs about the same as a lightweight watch. The size and weight of the figurine makes it suitable as a comforting pocket prayer piece, or as an adornment to a desk or nightstand as a reminder of Mary’s strength-giving comfort.
Mother Hen or Icon of God’s Maternal Love?
Those seeking shelter under Mary’s cloak are often depicted kneeling and are by necessity shown on a much smaller scale. They may come from segments of Christian society, with royal crowns, mitres, and even a papal tiara in the front rows, or they may represent only the local townsfolk. Our Lady of Refuge, or the Virgin of Mercy, was a widespread devotion in Europe, often as a specific form of votive portrait, and especially in Italy from the 13th to 16th centuries. The Lutheran Reformer Martin Luther mocked the Schutzmantelmadonna as a “hen with her chicks.” But Our Lady of Refuge, the Virgin of Mercy, can be interpreted even more easily and respectfully as a special pathway to God, as an icon of God’s maternal love for us: ”As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you…” (Isaiah 66:13).
Our Lady of Refuge has Many Names
Most commonly know as “the Virgin of Mercy,” the Our Lady of Refuge statue usually depicts Mary holding her cloak open to shelter clergy, laypeople, and royalty alike. This depiction of Mary is inspired by legal codes which guaranteed protection and safety from prosecution to all who found shelter under the cloak of a person with authority such as a king or queen. Our Lady of Refuge is known by many names: 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). This solid bronze piece is a most appropriate gift for a confirmation, birthday, first communion, and ordination.