We continue our May series of modern images of Mary…
Tattoos, and other body art, are often used to express identity – be it expressing one’s loves, or family or ‘tribe.’
In this striking photograph by the American photographic printmaker Delilah Montaya, a prisoner kneels before iron bars. On his back is a large tattoo of Our Lady of Guadalupe, an image popular with Mexicans and with the Latinos of the United States.
For many peoples of Nuhuatl (Aztec) culture such an image is seen as a protective skin. The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe brought, and continues to bring, comfort and protection to indigenous Mexican peoples.
In this provoking print the image of Mary is taken out of church, away from popular piety. The image speaks of both ancient and modern protections. Here we are challenged to see Mary as the protector and comforter of those who are on the margins, the lowly, the imprisoned – the mother of liberation. As we look at the prisoner the image of Our Lady is placed firmly before us, causing us to reflect upon Mary’s compassion before making judgement.