Mary for all people

Belligerently beautiful, Queen of all fat women, Defender of the unloved.

Virgin of Kiev, c. 6th Century

Penelope Dent’s poem My Fat Virgin, describes and praises the Virgin Mary as  a large, jolly, motherly figure, eating pork pies. Ildelphonsus of Toledo gives a  more traditional reflection of the annunciation.

At the ecumenical evening celebration of readings, images and Music in Honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary we heard these pieces, as well as exaltations of the name of Mary, of Mary teaching her child to walk, the frustrated mother with a naughty child, Mary the voice for the liberation of the poor and marginalized. Readings, images and music spanned the centuries; voices and music from the early to the medieval church, and the 17th century to our contemporary world, tracing the devotion to and challenge of Mary throughout history.

The Medlock Singers gave a wonderful performance of Hildegaard of Bingen’s  O Viridissima Virgo  and the breath taking Ave Maria by the polish composer Lukaszewski amongst other pieces.

 Max Ernst: The Blessed Virgin Chastising the Infant Jesus Before Three Witnesses. 1926

Perhaps the most striking and somewhat moving element of the evening was the reminder of the figure of unity that Mary is. We were pleased to welcome Muslim friends who recited from the sura about Maryam in the Qur’an – highlighting the reverence for Maryam in the Qur’an. We heard music from the the organist and Deacon Artur Bobikyan from Holy Trinity Armenian Orthodox Church and were pleased to welcome friends from his church. There were Christians from across different traditions, and locations.

Mary – a figure of contention for some but a symbol of stability, nurture and unity for many more. Mary – honoured as Queen of Heaven but moreso perhaps as woman, mother, humble servant of God and example to all people of down to earth, very human, devoted motherly love and care

Mary for all – Click here for the images from the evening.


On Sunday 29th May at 6pm there is an Interfaith Evening with Christian and Muslim speakers on the role of Mary in Christianity and Fatima in Islam followed by refreshments and question and answers. Do come along if you can.

About stchrysostoms

St Chrysostom’s is an Anglican (Church of England) parish church in Manchester, UK. We’re an inclusive, diverse and welcoming faith community rejoicing in our Anglo Catholic tradition, where people of many differing backgrounds make friends. Find our Facebook group at
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