I know this does not directly connect to our readings or Julia Margaret Cameron, but when I was reading Mavor’s chapter on Cameron and the Madonna images she created I was reminded of another kind of Madonna image, one of which had appeared in my hometown in 2003.
The image is said to be caused by leaking chemicals
A US hospital has asked the Catholic Church for help after being swamped by thousands of people seeking to view what they believe is an image of the Virgin Mary in a third-floor window. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/2999172.stm)
This phenomena that appeared on one of Milton Hospital’s (Milton, MA) windows garnered global as well as national attention as it was covered by outlets from the Boston Globe to the LA Times and even the BBC (see first image and accompanying text). To connect it back to our class as well as the Mavor chapter though, its global attention suggests the power and truth we invest in images, a topic we have been discussing all semester. In June of 2003 when the image appeared thousands of people visited the hospital simply to view it. Although, as the news outlets pointed out, the Madonna image could simply have been a product of “leaking chemicals” in a window with a broken seal, the possibility of it being a “true” religious image outweighed such speculation for the thousands that visited it after its appearance. My father brought my sisters and I to see the image with our nana who suffered from chronic pain. She was raised Catholic but seldom went to church in her adult life, and at the time hadn’t been in years. However, she went with us to Milton Hospital to see the image and to hope it held some type of power. The speculation surrounding the image between science and religion reminded me of photography and its place between science and art. Mavor notes the “split in photography between science and art” in her chapter on Cameron and it was her quote about “angelic” Victorian women as those who “maintained sacredness within an age of modernist doubt” that led me to this post (Mavor, 63, 52). The Milton Hospital Madonna definitely holds a “sacred” position in the face of “modernist doubt.”