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#132606 11/21/02 12:14 PM
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Why is the Theotokos always depicted with her hair covered? The only other Saint I have seen this way is her mother, Anna.

John

#132607 11/21/02 02:21 PM
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Simply because this was the cultural rule and norm, particularly for a married woman. If you look at traditional iconography most women saints they have covered heads.

With love in Christ,
Mark monk and sinner.

#132608 11/21/02 09:17 PM
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Thank you Father, I know you are right.

But I ponder if there may be more to it than just this, perhaps approaching dogmatic levels of significance. Let me explain (this is based on my conjecture, I can find no direct reference.)

I am struck by the fact that every icon of the Theotokos has her hair covered, including today's icon of the Presentation, and the Annunciation. The fact that these two icons: before and at the betrothal, if you will, also have her in the dress of a married woman. If the stars represent her perpetual virginity, than I ponder if the covering represents her perpetual betrothal ("the ever blessed and glorious lady, the Mother of God, and ever-Virgin, Mary"). The implication would be that Mary was not the winner of some lottery ("any womb would do") but was chosen before all time.

I also ponder if this symbolism represents fidelity, marital chastity, and as such, serves as typology for the relationship between the bride and the bridegroom.

If the iconic rule was not so rigid, I could also understand occasional icons depicting flowing hair as a representation of her beauty (as depicted in Song of Songs), of her strength, of her freedom in giving permission, or even her Virginity.

John

#132609 11/21/02 10:49 PM
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Let us not forget also that covering is/was a sign of obedience and modesty.

Sharon

#132610 11/23/02 01:39 PM
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Hi Sharon;

Yes, but what is it about obedience and modesty that leads us to a greater understanding of this Divine Mystery?

I am struck by the fact that the three women that are always depicted like this are: Mary, Anna, and Elizabeth (I had previously forgotten about Elizabeth). For all of them their sanctity is inextricably linked to their fruitfulness. Their fruitfulness arose as a special favor from God. They were thus fulfilled in their Motherhood.

There is a rigidity, dispassion, that always is depicted in iconic faces. This is to demonstrate an interiorization of one's emotional life. The spiritual truth is within, not without. This is not to deny the importance of intimate relationships within our lives but rather to demonstrate their fulfillment. Icons, especially of the Virgin, use other techniques to show intimacy: the flexion of the neck, the turn of a hand, and so on.

So I propose that this covering of the hair similarly demonstrates fruitful fidelity, a Maternal intimacy that a guy like me just cannot understand.

John

#132611 11/23/02 01:48 PM
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Perhaps this can better explain what I mean about this Maternal fidelity and fulfillment. The following is Anna's lament regarding her barrenness and comes from the Protoevangelion of St. James, Chapter III:

And as she was looking towards heaven she perceived a sparrow's nest in the laurel. And mourning within herself, she said, "Wo is me, who begat me? and what womb did bear me, that I should be thus accursed before the children of Israel, and that they should reproach and deride me in the temple of my God: Wo is me, to what can I be compared? I am not comparable to the very beasts of the earth, for even the beasts of the earth are fruitful before thee, O Lord! Wo is me, to what can I be compared? I am not comparable to the brute animals, for even the brute animals are fruitful before thee, O Lord! Wo is me, to what am I comparable? I cannot be compared to these waters, for even the waters are fruitful before thee, O Lord! Wo is me, to what can I be compared? I am not comparable to the waves of the sea; for these whether they are calm, or in motion, with the fishes which are in them, praise thee, O Lord! Wo is me, to what can I be compared? I am not comparable to the very earth, for the earth produces its fruits, and praises thee O Lord!"

The fruitfulness of Anna, and Elizabeth, and Mary was borne of their fidelity. Because of their faith, they were blessed with an intimacy, maternity, of a special kind.

John

#132612 11/23/02 10:25 PM
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GLORY TO JESUS CHRIST!
GLORY TO HIM FOREVER!

Also remember that in most cultures, an adult female of the commuity dressed entirely different that a female child of that community. In short, wearing this type of head-covering signified that Mary was an adult and thus able to make her own decisions.

In many cultures, the passage from childhood to being a functioning, contributing adult member of the village or community occured during the wedding ceremony. In many Slavic communities, removing the bridal veil or headpiece, re-arranging of the bride's hair and the capping or placing of a "woman's cap" on the bride's head signified that she was no longer a child but rather an adult member of the village community.

I'm sure there is such a custom among the Jewish and Middle Eastern communities that has been handed down from time immemorial.

That's how I interpret the veil that is shown in the ikons. These holy woman were adults who used their own judgement to submit to the will of God.

The least servant

mark


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#132613 11/25/02 03:23 PM
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Fr. Dr. Deacon John wrote:

"Yes, but what is it about obedience and modesty that leads us to a greater understanding of this Divine Mystery?"

Uhh. - sometimes this internet business fosters missed communication - no way to see raised eyebrows or little grins. Father Deacon, were you serious when you asked this? Or just funnin'?

Sharon

#132614 11/26/02 12:13 AM
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Thanks Mark, I find that helpful.

No Sharon, believe it or not I am serious. Why is modesty important? I think this is a relevant question for our time. The answer may be obvious to you, but I really question if it is to many many people today.

That is the point I was trying to get to. Fidelity leads to fruitfulness. The problem is that these days, one is more likely to be "fruitful" as a result of immodesty and immorality.

Marital fidelity is hardly a necessity for reproduction! Many would falsely conclude that there was nothing special about these three women. They were just rather infertile.

What is missed is the analogical language of God. In each of these three women, their maternity represented more than just becoming Mothers. Their progeny were "special gifts" of God's favor; an external and visible sign of an internal and invisible intimacy with God. In short, for these three women, their childbirths were sacraments.

Their "sacramental childbirths" are somewhat approximated, albeit incompletely, by all childbirths, and especially those that arise from a true marital and covenantal relationship.

Another thought I had was that their childbirths were simultaneously human births and baptisms all rolled into one.

Thus, their modesty was not merely some type of religious fashion statement. Like their Motherhoods, their modesty was a sacramental display of fidelity borne of internal intimacy. Spiritual fruitfulness then rendered human fruitfulness and the salvation of all mankind.

John

#132615 11/26/02 02:32 PM
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I would just say that modesty and obedience (that AWFUL word, "obedience" - we Americans will have none of it!) are necessary components of the spiritual life - being directly contrary to the Mama of all sins - pride.

Just as we have to get rid of the head noise before we can hear the Silence, we have to get **ME** out of the spotlight so that we can see Him with eyes of faith and love.

BTW, I'd look at not just the event of birth in thee women, but how they spent the 9 months building their babies. Scripture is rather stingy about details, but we know that each prayed and praised God. You are a father - you well know that Mom's doings, eatings, activities & attitude have a lot to do with how well a pregnancy goes, and (even in this overmedicalized, stupidly interventionist nation) how birthing goes too. These three women were faithful throughout.

Sharon
(who has the head covering thing down pat, but is still working on the obedience & modesty stuff...)

#132616 11/26/02 02:46 PM
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Dear Mother Sharon,

Baruch haShem Adonai!

I think that the iconography of Miriam the Mother of Jesus portrays her in a more masculine role with her head covered - please do tell me if I'm off my rocker.

She is not only portrayed with head covered but also with the Tzitzith or tassel-strings dangling from her robes - is this not something reserved only to males in Judaism?

Both men and women are portrayed with heads covered as a sign of worship of God in the Eastern tradition.

Do you think I'm off my rocker?

Alex

#132617 11/26/02 04:39 PM
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ALex,

I am not familiar enough with what was or wasn't proper to know whether fringes were reserved ONLY to male garments, so I can't comment intelligently.

As for whether or not you are off your rocker - well, entirely sane people are SO dull....

wink

Sharon

#132618 11/26/02 05:06 PM
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Dear Mother Sharon,

Shalom Aleichem!

Yes, I agree totally!

I am thrilled with the fact that our Latins here are showing definite signs of being interesting and exciting after all! smile smile

Alex

#132619 11/26/02 06:16 PM
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huh??? biggrin

Angela


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