The Virgin Blanca and Baby Jesus — Still Smiling This Advent Season After 700 Years

Virgin Blanca. Baby Jesus and Mary statue in the Cathedral at Toledo, Spain. Photo by Barbara Newhall

The Romanesque Virgin Blanca of the Cathedral at Toledo, Spain, dates to the 13th century. Seven hundred years old, she’s witnessed war and conflagration — and still she smiles. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Advent starts today. This Sunday is the first day of the waiting that Christians do — if they’re not too busy shopping and hanging up Christmas lights — during the four weeks leading up to Christmas.

What are they waiting for? For a little light to shine on Earth. For things to fall into place, for the painful things that don’t make sense to make some sense. To be loved. For a smile from the Universe.

Here’s part of the lectionary that many Christian congregations will be reading today. It’s from Hebrew scripture. Really, really old words set down in Jerusalem that still resonate 2500 years later.

Isaiah 64

O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,
so that the mountains would quake at your presence–

as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil . . .

The Virgin Blanca — All Smiles

Christmas is coming. What will it be like? I’m thinking, no quaking mountains, no tears in the firmament. But lots of simple, joyful moments like the one between the smiling baby Jesus and his smiling mother that I spotted in the Cathedral at Toledo, Spain, last month.

It’s the Virgin Blanca, a 700-year-old Romanesque statue that, like the passage from Isaiah, has something to say to the twenty-first century.

More Baby Jesus at “Christmas Eve in Mexico — It’s All About the Baby Jesus.”


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