Sacred Art - Immaculate heart

Sacred Art - Immaculate heart
The Heart of Mary—Leopold Kupelwieser (1796–1862)

Title: The Heart of Mary

Artist: Leopold Kupelwieser (1796–1862)

Style: Romantic Nazarene Movement

Medium: Oil on canvas

Colours: The artist imitates the iconographic style of painting saints. The main colours used are gold, blue, and red

Symbolism and Interpretation:

  • Gold reflects the divine light of God. The saint is one who has attained union with God in the next life and is thus illuminated by the light of God. It means that there will never be night again. The gold halo represents that they shine with the light of God from within.
  • Blue, particularly dark blue, is the colour of the Blessed Virgin Mary's garment because it represents heaven, the divine, and grace, which are all connected in Christianity, and so Mary is clothed with divine heavenly grace. Looked at from an Eastern Catholic perspective, blue also represents humanity, purity, fidelity, and hope. Thus Mary is shown to be human, pure, and faithful to God, and she is our hope since she carries the divine, Christ, the hope of mankind.
  • Red, in the Eastern Catholic tradition, represents the divine. It is shown under the blue to show that Mary, who is human, carries someone divine within her womb and thus becomes divine despite her humanity. This shows that we too can become divine by following her example. But it also represents blood, life, humanity, and sacrifice. And so Mary, who is clothed with grace, is human nonetheless. Through her, we get the life of the world. It also represents the sacrifice that she has to undergo since the colour is near her heart. Red is associated with the Holy Spirit and fire. The Holy Spirit dwells within the blessed virgin Mary, and her heart is on fire with the love of God.
  • The heart of Mary represents her love for us. We are her children, and her exposed heart shows that she gives us her very life.
  • The roses surrounding Mary's heart show her holiness and purity. It is also symbolic of the rosary, which gets its name from the rose. Mary is the mystical rose.
  • The sword piercing Mary's heart comes from Simeon’s prophecy at the Presentation in the Temple. This prophecy foretold that Mary would suffer on account of Christ. She suffered with Christ during his passion and agony on the cross in such an intimate way that was unique to her and her son.
  • The fire that engulfs her heart relates to the Holy Spirit dwelling in her and her unceasing prayer to God for us. Mary is the spouse of the Holy Ghost and the Temple of God. Mary burns with the holy zeal of God’s love, and the fire in her heart marks God’s presence there.
  • Mary's hand touches her heart, showing us her genuine love for us.
  • Her open hand shows us that she comes in peace and wants to bring us closer to herself and her son.
  • Sunbursts emanate from her halo, showing us that she is the woman clothed with the sun spoken of in the Book of Revelation.


We can reflect on the goodness of Mary and her perfection. She is the perfect creature of God. Honouring her is like looking at a work of art and standing in awe at the skill of the artist. Our praise goes not to the work itself but to the one who made it. However, in the case of Mary, our praises to her are also directed to God since he chose to be united to her in a special way with the Holy Spirit dwelling in her for all eternity. She is the tabernacle of God. Most Holy Mary, Theotokos, pray for us!