This day was really a reflection on how our journey can be influenced by Chevalier’s journey. Hans and Johannes presented some good historical and biographical data on which to draw contemporary conclusions.

It was good to talk about the French preoccupation with Marian apparitions, although I still don’t quid understand why they all happened. They do seemed have twin sources, in the declaration of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception and in the ongoing threat to the French church. The fact remains that, from Lourdes until the end of the Century, there are over twenty Marian apparitions. What is most interesting is that, even though Fr Jules was certainly influenced by Saint Margaret Mary, he was not particularly concerned with the growing devotion to Mary of itself, because his mariology was particularly Christological. That explains his care over the image of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart: Mary had to be honoured in her relationship to Jesus.

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Incidentally, neither order of sisters are Marian because of the focus of the devotion on the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

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The small details about the statue tell us a great deal about Chevalier:

  • he rejected the idea of a baby Jesus, he wanted to show Jesus as young adult, old enough to be going about his Father’s business but young enough to still be a relationship with his Mother.
  • Mary has to look at Jesus.
  • her arms show Jesus to the world, while his reveal his Sacred Heart and point to her as the source of his humanity.
  • Chevalier made very French, 19th Century assumptions. Rome warned him from using terms like ‘queen’, but Chevalier’s usage was based on the belief, from French law, that a queen was always subordinate. His understanding of maternal love was based on power, the ongoing role of a mother in the life of the family, so the child has the obligation to give obedience to the mother as a matter of right).

As Hans points out, there is enough Scripture on which to base a theology of Mary in a modern context, but we should understand the culture of Chevalier’s time so we can keep faith with his essential vision. He saw humanity as called to follow Mary in showing Christ to the world. Pretty good insight for a simple country priest.