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The Mystery of the RosaryMarian Devotion and the Reinvention of Catholicism$
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Nathan D. Mitchell

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780814795910

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814795910.001.0001

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Reframing Representation

Reframing Representation

(p.47) 2 Reframing Representation
The Mystery of the Rosary

Nathan D. Mitchell

NYU Press

This chapter examines how the rosary and Marian devotion were reinterpreted within early modern Catholicism. It focuses on Caravaggio's images of Mary to highlight the role of visual perception in shaping religious practice. His work displayed a visual solution to what late sixteenth-century naturalists called “the defect of distance” by altering the relation between subjects and spectators. Caravaggio's Marian images rewrote traditional biblical narratives with often surprising, even scandalous, results. He allowed Mary to be a woman, real and accessible, a holy woman whose unique role in the history of salvation requires us to see her as fully “carnal, human, … heavy with a sense of sleep, sex, birth and death”.

Keywords:   rosary, early modern Catholicism, Catholics, Marian devotion, Caravaggio, visual perception, religious practice

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