Wednesday, March 21, 2012


So, I bought these at a church sale the other day.

In and of themselves, they're not very special.  Just the typical lower quality religious statues you can find at the dollar store.  Usually, I pass them up, but they were only a quarter each and I already had a big box of stuff from this sale, so I tossed them in.

Does anything look strange to you?  Like maybe something is missing?

Look again.  A little closer this time.

What are the pointing at?  Where are their hearts?

If you don't know what I'm talking about, consider that most images with Jesus and Mary in this pose typically look like this:

That would be the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the left, with the Sacred Heart of Jesus beside her.  Image from here
Both of these are very traditional Catholic devotions, and one of the reasons I became fascinated with religious art years ago.  So I'm pretty used to seeing Mary and Jesus with hands on chests, pointing to their hearts.  Hearts that are missing on my two little statues.

Now, I've seen this kind of thing before.  Protestants don't share these devotional traditions, so manufacturers will block that part of the mold that has the heart in it and run some articles that they can sell in the Protestant market.  It's cheaper than making a new mold for a new product.  And you get a perfectly sellable version of Jesus and Mary pointing at, well, nothing.

I bought these at a Protestant church, so I guess there is a market for them.  But when I was growing up Southern Baptist, what religious art we had tended to be more like these:

You had your classic Jesus profile with subtle halo.

You had your Good Shepherd.

You had your Jesus at the door.  (Now I've got cheesy Paul McCartney songs running through my head.)

You had your praying hands.  (It's fascinating how many pics of tattoos come up in a Google image search for this one.)

And, other than a Ten Commandments plaque or a pic of the Bible, that was about it.  Oh, there were a few homes with a Crucifixion scene or a Last Supper, but no one that I knew anyway had "Protestant-safe" versions of the Hearts anywhere.  Wonder when someone got the idea to start trying that.  I mean, I bought it at a sale, so someone else obviously got it somewhere.  Still, the idea of a non-Catholic home with any kind of an image of Mary--heartless or not--just strikes me as odd.  My grandmother would have had none of that, let me tell you.

One of the things that appealed to me about Catholic themes in religious art is a combination of the drama and the kitsch involved.  The religious art I grew up with just seemed so plain to me in comparison with pictures of the Twin Hearts. 

Now, I know that life doesn't always fall into neat little categories.  In reality, there were and are plenty of Catholic homes that have copies or versions of everything I've listed above.  There's nothing about any of those images that brands them as "belonging" to any particular kind of church.  I just tend to think of them as "Protestant" because that's what I grew up with and how I was raised.

Take another look at my little statues:

With no heart showing, but hands still kind of clutching their chests, doesn't it kind of look like this is what they're thinking?

Just sayin'!


Roger Owen Green said...

always liked the lighting of "Jesus at the door"

Chris the Yardsale Queen said...

my favorite religious find was a breastfeeding baby Jesus from Our Lady of Le Leche shrine. I sold it but I wish I had kept a pic of it.

EM said...

Oh Chris! I have wanted one of those for my own collection forever!