ANDREA DEL SARTO
Holy Family (Barberini)
If God had not decreed that the Incarnation of His Son should take place in the womb of a virgin, we should never have had that masterpiece of grace and loveliness, the Most Blessed Virgin; we should never have had her smile or her maternal caresses. Therefore, we love and honour Mary because she is the Mother of God, the Mother of Jesus; and loving her in her relation to God, our devotion to her only makes our love for God, for Jesus, deeper and more tender. "Mater Dei, Mater Creatoris", Mother of God, Mother of our Creator, we invoke her in the litany. These two titles which seem to be contradictory, actually express a unique synthesis because Mary, although a creature, is really the Mother of her Creator, the Mother of God's Son to whom she has given a human body: the fruit of her flesh and blood is the Son of God in whom and by whom all things were created. Here we understand more than ever how Mary's dignity reaches the threshold of the infinite. "God could make a bigger world or a wider sky, but He could not raise a pure creature higher than Mary, for the dignity of Mother of God is the highest dignity that can be conferred on a creature" (St Bonaventure).