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Ancient Pagan and Modern Christian Symbolism
by Thomas Inman, M.D. (1874)
Pagan and Christian symbolism

Fig. 118

Figure 118 is a copy of the medal issued to pilgrims at the shrine of the virgin at Loretto. It was lent to me by Mr. Newton, but the engraver has omitted to make the face of the mother and child black, as the most ancient and renowned ones usually are.

Instead of the explanation given in Ancient Faiths, Vol. ii., p. 262, of the adoption of a black skin for Mary and her son, D'Harcanville suggests that it represents night, the period during which the feminine creator is most propitious or attentive to her duties. It is unnecessary to contest the point, for almost every symbol has more interpretations given to it than one. I have sought in vain for even a plausible reason for the blackness of sacred virgins and children, in certain papal shrines, which is compatible with decency and Christianity. It is clear that the matter will not bear the light.


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