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October 27, 2003

Dramatic Photographs of European Madonnas On Display At Smith

Images of Mary and Pilgrims are Centerpiece of Events Examining the "Idea and the Image of the Mother of God"

Editor's note: High-resolution digital images of six of the exhibition photographs are available. Contact Marti Hobbes at (413) 585-2190 or to request photos that are on view at

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. -- Europe is home to thousands of shrines to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, dating back to the earliest centuries.

Eighty-one dramatic photographs of European Madonnas by internationally recognized photographer Janusz Rosikon will be on public display at Smith College from Nov. 13 to Dec. 12 as part of a series of events at the college examining the influence of Mary in European culture.

"The Madonna and the Christ Child are, arguably, the most sacred icons of Christian culture," notes Dean of Religious Life Jennifer Walters. The exhibition and related events, she says, are designed to examine "why the idea and the image of the 'Mother of God' has captured the religions and artistic imaginations of believers and non-believers for ages."

Associate Professor of Religion Vera Shevzov, who teaches a course on "Images and Cults of Mary," describes the photographs as "some of the most renowned images of Mary in Western European culture." The stories behind these images, Shevzov points out, "were often tied to profound personal, local, or national histories."

"Madonny Europy/Madonnas of Europe" will be on display at the Helen Hills Hills Chapel, Elm Street and Round Hill Road, from Nov. 13 through Dec. 12. The chapel is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Admission is free. The chapel is wheelchair accessible.

"Madonny Europy/Madonnas of Europe" was presented for the first time at the International Mariological and Marian Congress in Rosikon's native Poland in 1996 and has been exhibited around the world, including stops in Vilnius, London, Oxford, Paris, Frankfurt and some 60 Polish cities. The vivid color images, some as large as 3 x 4 feet, have been viewed by more than 110,000 people.

Four other free, public events are planned in conjunction with the exhibition.
At 4 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 12, in Wright Hall Common Room, Rosikon will present a slide lecture about the creation of the "Madonny Europy" exhibition.

At 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13, in Helen Hills Hills Chapel, University of Chicago historian Rachel Fulton, author of "From Judgment to Passion: Devotion to Christ and the Virgin Mary, 800 to 1200," will present a lecture titled "The Virgin in the Garden, or Why Flowers Make Better Prayers."

At 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 16, there will be a Catholic Mass at the Helen Hills Hills Chapel which will include a dance performance by Brooklyn Ballet dancer/choreographer Lynn Parkerson. Parkerson will dance to the Rosary Sonatas by 17th century composer Henrich Biber. Each Sonata is based on a scene from the birth, life and resurrection of Christ, as seen from the perspective of Mary. Parkerson's choreography for Rosary Sonata #7 is drawn from American Sign Language, specifically the signs for the prayer "Gloria Patri."

At 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 21, in Helen Hills Hills Chapel, the renowned Folger Consort will present "Illuminations," a concert and multimedia presentation of two famous medieval Spanish collections. All songs are from the 13th-century "Cantigas de Santa Maria, a collection of more than 400 songs praising the Virgin Mary and recounting her intercessions on behalf of sinners and those in need.

For more information about these events, call the Helen Hills Hills Chapel at (413) 585-2750.


For More Information

Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Marti Hobbes
News Assistant
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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