Padre Pio’s favourite painting of Our Lady: its Christmas significance
This depiction of Our Lady of Grace is painted on the wall and ceiling behind the altar in the church of San Giovanni Rotondo, where Padre Pio had his ministry. In the painting, Baby Jesus is reaching for his mother’s milk, which represents grace. We are also the children of Mary, and may partake of this grace.
At Christmas, the very centre of our celebration is that the Virgin Mary gave birth to Christ who is God and therefore the creator of all graces. The Blessed Mother is the Mediatrix of all graces, since Baby Jesus grew in her womb, and was nurtured from her milk and loved by her embraces: all of this is portrayed in Padre Pio’s favourite painting.
In the majority of crib scenes we do not see Our Lady or Baby Jesus wearing crowns. At the time, such honours of regal coronets had not been bestowed on the child in the manger and his humble mother. But in Padre Pio’s favourite painting, Our Lady wears the golden crown signifying that she is queen and Baby Jesus wears a smaller fit-for-a-baby crown. It is our tradition in Europe that the wife of the king is the queen, but in Jewish law the queen was the king’s mother. So, in effect, Our Lady was made a queen when she became Jesus’ mother.