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Dramatic photographs of European Madonnas

"The Madonna and the Christ Child are, arguably, the most sacred icons of Christian culture," notes Dean of Religious Life Jennifer Walters. The exhibition and related events, she says, are designed to examine "why the idea and the image of the 'Mother of God' has captured the religions and artistic imaginations of believers and non-believers for ages."

Images of Mary and Pilgrims are Centerpiece of Events
Examining the "Idea and the Image of the Mother of God"

-- Europe is home to thousands of shrines to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, dating back to the earliest centuries.

Eighty-one dramatic photographs of European Madonnas by internationally recognized photographer Janusz Rosikon examining the influence of Mary in European culture.

"The Madonna and the Christ Child are, arguably, the most sacred icons of Christian culture," notes Dean of Religious Life Jennifer Walters. The exhibition and related events, she says, are designed to examine "why the idea and the image of the 'Mother of God' has captured the religions and artistic imaginations of believers and non-believers for ages."

Associate Professor of Religion Vera Shevzov, who teaches a course on "Images and Cults of Mary," describes the photographs as "some of the most renowned images of Mary in Western European culture." The stories behind these images, Shevzov points out, "were often tied to profound personal, local, or national histories."

"Madonny Europy/Madonnas of Europe" was presented for the first time at the International Mariological and Marian Congress in Rosikon's native Poland in 1996 and has been exhibited around the world, including stops in Vilnius, London, Oxford, Paris, Frankfurt and some 60 Polish cities. The vivid color images, some as large as 3 x 4 feet, have been viewed by more than 110,000 people.

Janusz Rosikon fragment of speach:
I am a photographer by profession but a pilgrim at heart . What is a pilgrimage you ask? From the beginning of time people have been searching for signs from the heavens. In certain places miracles happen, a sign that God exists. It is to these places that pilgrims come to thank God for gifts, ask for acts that are impossible to achieve with only the human hand, TO PRAY. Many of you have probably never heard about pilgrimages because they are not part of today’s pop culture. Yet, In Europe, twenty five million people go on such pilgrimages every year! I would like to share with you my photographic journeys on the oldest pilgrim tracks of Europe. Traveling, which is so common nowadays, was only an option at the beginning of our civilization in the form of a pilgrimage. No matter in what state of health, people felt an unusual need to find themselves in places with a particular presence of God. Places where amazing things had happened.

I would like to start our pilgrimage in the closest European point to the US, the port from which Columbus sailed, In Fatima, Portugal.

I arrived at midnight, and after a long trip I dreamed of going to bed. When I saw thousands of pilgrims still prayng my weariness disapeared.

In 1917, this little unknown village became the location of the most important proclamation. The Virgin Mary spoke to three Portuguese children, but Her message was addressed to all humanity. She urged people to repent for their sins and to reform their lives.

The children said ‘She was dressed in white, brighter than the sun. ‘The lady in white’ asked Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco to come back five more times, on the thirteenth day of each month. She also instructed them to say the rosary every day, in order to pray for an end to the First World War. One of those children is still alive - Mother Lucia.

Pilgrims approach the Chapel of Revelations by crawling on knee along a six hundred and sixty foot long special marble path..This path, polished by the knees of millions of pilgrims, shines like beautiful marble in palace. I took this picture when I kneeled to walk with the others. The lady that you can see was moving very quickly, and her rosary is contradicting the laws of physics...

When on the 13th of December 1995, I've presented the project of the book the Madonnas of Europe, to Pope John Paul II in Vatican, today's situation would never come to my mind. From that day I've traveled 90,000 km, which is the distance from Toronto to Vancouver times 30, and twice that by plane. In other words I could make the tour of the world 5 times.
Out of these trips the album Madonnas of Europe has been created. It shows a different Europe from the one we know and see in press releases, news, etc. I crossed Europe all the ways possible and everywhere those thousands of people come to share their happiness, sadness, to thank and to ask, just to be closer to Mary. That's what is the connection to all pilgrims, and that, of course, not only in Europe, but also here, in Canada, where the sanctuaries play a big role in the history of your country. Focus yourselves on how do people show their feelings in different countries. In the countries full of sun, people express their feelings by singing, dancing, screaming, and the revealed joy. But how different that is when we find ourselves in the cold and rainy places. People keep most of their feeling to themselves; no matter if it's joy, or sadness, they pray in silence. One is still common; they all seek the peace, security and Mary's love. People always look for new paths, but finally they walk on those, which already have been taken by pilgrims, who meet from all nations for two thousands years.
 

Dramatic photographs of European Madonnas