The Ceramic Madonnas of Faenza, Italy

11 May 2013

May is the month of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The month of May was dedicated to a goddess also in the pre-Christian era. The term “May” derives from “Maius” or the month dedicated to Maia, the goddess of earth and abundance. The coming of summer has always been an occasion of celebrations in honor of Nature, which in this month shows its best with the blossoming of thousands of species of flowers.

In the Middle Age, when the cult of Mary Mother of Jesus developed, this month was associated with “Our Lady” (“Mea Domina”, which became “Madonna”), who was already the image and symbol of beauty and sublime love.

The ceramic Madonnas of Faenza

The Madonna symbolizes not only the sublime love and feminine perfection. but also the maternal tenderness and love for the family. For this reason, it is traditional to hang a Madonna (expecially a Madonna With Child, or a Holy Family) above the bed or in the living room.

Over the centuries, the image of Mary holding the baby Jesus in her arms inspired numerous artists and artisans including potters from Faenza whi were particularly devoted to the Virgin for reasons which we will explain later…

In the shops at La Vecchia Faenza-Laura Silvagni you will find a wide selection of Madonna and Child in artistic ceramics of Faenza, entirely shaped and painted by hand in our workshop.

Our Madonnas are made following the traditional technique of ceramics of Faenza which first requires the painting by brush with colours derived from minerals and metals, and then the sprinkling with “Cristallina” , a glass powder which makes the surface glossy and emphasizes the brightness of colours.

These Madonnas are ideal as a wedding gift or as a gift for a birth to wish the new family the protection of Mary.

Our Lady of Grace, protector of Faenza

Faenza has a special relationship with Our Lady. In fact, the Madonna delle Grazie has been the city’s patroness for six hundred years. In 1412, during a terrible plague, the Virgin appeared to a devout citizen named Giovanna. The Madonna was holding 7 broken arrows in her hands and promised that God’s wrath would be broken as well if the Bishop had proclaimed a fast and a devotional procession. The Bishop and the citizens fulfilled these tasks and the calamity ceased.

ater, the Faenza citizens turned to their patroness during the plague of 1600, a terrible earthquake in 1781, and the cholera epidemic of 1836. Even on these occasions the Virgin interceded for the city, which suffered few casualties among the citizens.

The Madonna delle Grazie is still represented with 7 broken arrows in her hands, a symbol of the calamities and sufferings which she spared the citizens. Often there is also the writing “libera nos a peste at terrae motus” ( save us from plagues and earthquakes) as mention of her specific “skills”.

Walking through the streets of Faenza’s city center you can admire hundreds of ceramic images of the Madonna Delle Grazie hanged above doors.

The Madonna delle Grazie of La Vecchia Faenza-Laura Silvagni ismade respecting the tradition: we painted several shapes and sizes but always abiding by the classical iconography and colours typical of artistic ceramics of Faenza.

Come and visit us and we will gladly show you our wide production of Madonnas in hand-painted ceramic!