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Author Topic: Christmas’ missing icon: Mary breastfeeding Jesus  (Read 16373 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: December 11, 2012, 05:07:22 PM »

Quote
Ask anybody in the street what’s the primary Christian symbol and they would say the crucifixion,” said Margaret Miles, author of A Complex Delight: The Secularization of the Breast, 1350-1750, a book that traces the disappearance of the image of the breast-feeding Mary after the Renaissance.

“It was the takeover of the crucifixion as the major symbol of God’s love for humanity” that supplanted the breast-feeding icon, she said. And that was a decisive shift from the earliest days of Christianity when “the virgin’s nursing breast, the lactating virgin, was the primary symbol of God’s love for humanity.”

In fact, the oldest known image of the Virgin Mary is from a third-century fresco in a Roman catacomb that shows the infant Jesus suckling at her exposed breast.

From those early traces, the motif of “Maria Lactans,” as it is called in Latin, became increasingly popular – and increasingly graphic – an illustration of what the Catholic writer Sandra Miesel called “the shocking fleshiness of our faith.”
....
Whatever the obstacles, Miles thinks it would be a good thing for the culture, and Christianity, if Maria Lactans made at least a brief return to church – at Christmas or anytime.
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« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2012, 05:16:54 PM »

My wife's grandmother had one of these hanging at the top of the stairs in the house we live in now.

It has since been replaced with a "regular" icon corner for no other reason than I felt there was enough of Grandma's "old stuff" hanging around and I wanted my put my own mark on the house. 
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« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2012, 06:03:34 PM »

Icon of the Mother of God Milk-giver/Galaktotrophoussa/Mlekopitatel'nitsa:



And this one, from a Nativity fresco dating from the very late 13th century:



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« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2012, 06:32:01 PM »

I think it is all the years of breastfeeding, but all the breastfeeding icons make me cringe. It looks like Christ is biting and pulling her nipple OUCH!
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« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2012, 06:40:52 PM »

Icon of the Mother of God Milk-giver/Galaktotrophoussa/Mlekopitatel'nitsa:





I like this one a lot Smiley
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« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2012, 06:54:44 PM »

This icon type is an example of an icon which attests to Christ’s humanity. It counters the heresies which denied the full humanity of Christ.  Orthodox hymnography for the Mother of God frequently refers to her nursing the infant Christ, and the standard Gospel reading for the Divine Liturgy of any feast of the Mother of God includes Luke 11:27.

However, in proper iconographic tradition, while the Virgin’s breast is visible, it is rendered in a non-anatomical way: the breast emerges from her garments about halfway between her shoulder and where her "real" breast would be. This anatomical anomaly has been interpreted by some as an indication that iconography was a naïve art form, that iconographers "couldn’t draw or paint". Not so. The anatomical distortion was a deliberate gesture to portray a theological truth (that Christ was fully human as well as fully divine), while not risking any sensual or corrupting implications regarding the portrayal of the Virgin’s breast.
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« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2012, 07:05:52 PM »

That anatomical distortion is a distraction. And it honestly makes me *feel* her pain. It would be less distracting to do an icon with Christ latched if you want to show his face.

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« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2012, 07:06:37 PM »

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« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2012, 07:07:15 PM »

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« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2012, 02:19:57 AM »


this is my favorite one.
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« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2012, 02:36:41 AM »

Wrongly or not, I just can't help but find breastfeeding icons unsettling. Undecided
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« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2012, 02:48:05 AM »

Wrongly or not, I just can't help but find breastfeeding icons unsettling. Undecided

How much breastfeeding have you been around as an adult. We've got 3 kids and live in the progressive northwest so for me it's no big deal...women flop em out for their kiddos and a smart man just diverts the eyes! Lol!  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2012, 02:53:56 AM »

How much breastfeeding have you been around as an adult. We've got 3 kids and live in the progressive northwest so for me it's no big deal...women flop em out for their kiddos and a smart man just diverts the eyes! Lol!  Roll Eyes

Very different!  laugh

I'm not exposed to it at all here. Women that do it do so privately and/or carry breastmilk bottles around others or in public. Any kind of non-private breastfeeding is generally frowned upon, as far as I can tell.
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« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2012, 04:40:49 AM »

It won't find it's way into my home.
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« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2012, 05:06:59 AM »

I'm not exposed to it at all here. Women that do it do so privately and/or carry breastmilk bottles around others or in public. Any kind of non-private breastfeeding is generally frowned upon, as far as I can tell.

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« Reply #15 on: December 12, 2012, 08:30:12 AM »

Wrongly or not, I just can't help but find breastfeeding icons unsettling. Undecided
How do you think Jesus ate as an infant? Shocked
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« Reply #16 on: December 12, 2012, 08:30:58 AM »

Does this belong in the schlock icons thread?
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« Reply #17 on: December 12, 2012, 08:39:27 AM »

Does this belong in the schlock icons thread?

You mean the Milk-giver icons posted? No. They're not schlock. Smiley
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« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2012, 08:45:36 AM »

Wrongly or not, I just can't help but find breastfeeding icons unsettling. Undecided
How do you think Jesus ate as an infant? Shocked

Rule #374: We don't speak of anything having to do with bodily fluids when it comes to Jesus.  Wink
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« Reply #19 on: December 12, 2012, 11:16:46 AM »

Wrongly or not, I just can't help but find breastfeeding icons unsettling. Undecided
How do you think Jesus ate as an infant? Shocked
Like I said in my follow-up, it's not the act of breastfeeding that's the problem but doing so that others can see it. Tongue
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« Reply #20 on: December 12, 2012, 12:53:31 PM »

Wrongly or not, I just can't help but find breastfeeding icons unsettling. Undecided
How do you think Jesus ate as an infant? Shocked
Like I said in my follow-up, it's not the act of breastfeeding that's the problem but doing so that others can see it. Tongue
Be a man.

We have one of these icons, but had to order it from Ukraine because we couldn't find it stateside.
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« Reply #21 on: December 12, 2012, 06:33:20 PM »

The US is almost the worst about breast feeding taboos among world cultures.

I think on some level the concept that breast feeding was just for the poor that couldn't afford a wet nurse (before the advent of formula) or later to buy "real" milk in formula form has persisted for whatever reason.

Now, I don't think women should be out there with their whole breast exposed. But I don't think that seeing the top of a breast should be offensive to anyone. You see more breast on billboards, TV, magazines, movies and ads in the mall than you do a woman that is breast feeding.

Although, I have always wanted to buy one of these for a baby, just to rankle some extremely prudish people



It's just a hat folks! Wink
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« Reply #22 on: December 12, 2012, 06:35:38 PM »

I think on some level the concept that breast feeding was just for the poor that couldn't afford a wet nurse (before the advent of formula) or later to buy "real" milk in formula form has persisted for whatever reason.

....
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« Reply #23 on: December 12, 2012, 06:44:33 PM »

I do breast feed in public. It is completely ridiculous to insist that women breast feed in the bathroom, or in the car. Breast feeding in the bathroom is just gross and unsanitary. In my case it would be impossible for me to breast feed in the car or bathroom. It would require either taking all of the kids into the bathroom with me, or taking all the kids in the car and strapping them in their seats. Getting 4 kids in car seats takes at least 15 minutes. Getting from the store, to the car is at least another 15. With a baby that nurses every 2 hours, well let's just say I would never get anything done. I have used cover-ups to nurse. After a certain point they just make everything more difficult. One would have to watch very closely (and by that I mean you would have to have your face within 1 foot of my body) to see anything when I latch a baby on/off.
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« Reply #24 on: December 12, 2012, 06:47:02 PM »

I do breast feed in public. It is completely ridiculous to insist that women breast feed in the bathroom, or in the car. Breast feeding in the bathroom is just gross and unsanitary. In my case it would be impossible for me to breast feed in the car or bathroom. It would require either taking all of the kids into the bathroom with me, or taking all the kids in the car and strapping them in their seats. Getting 4 kids in car seats takes at least 15 minutes. Getting from the store, to the car is at least another 15. With a baby that nurses every 2 hours, well let's just say I would never get anything done.

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« Reply #25 on: December 12, 2012, 06:52:39 PM »

I do breast feed in public. It is completely ridiculous to insist that women breast feed in the bathroom, or in the car. Breast feeding in the bathroom is just gross and unsanitary. In my case it would be impossible for me to breast feed in the car or bathroom. It would require either taking all of the kids into the bathroom with me, or taking all the kids in the car and strapping them in their seats. Getting 4 kids in car seats takes at least 15 minutes. Getting from the store, to the car is at least another 15. With a baby that nurses every 2 hours, well let's just say I would never get anything done. I have used cover-ups to nurse. After a certain point they just make everything more difficult. One would have to watch very closely (and by that I mean you would have to have your face within 1 foot of my body) to see anything when I latch a baby on/off.

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« Reply #26 on: December 12, 2012, 07:44:01 PM »

It is important to know that in certain states breastfeeding in public is not protected by law. You can actually get arrested for doing it if the police choose to. At the very least you can be kicked out of stores and restaraunts.
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« Reply #27 on: December 12, 2012, 08:43:58 PM »

It is important to know that in certain states breastfeeding in public is not protected by law. You can actually get arrested for doing it if the police choose to. At the very least you can be kicked out of stores and restaraunts.
I think it's illegal as indecent exposure in my state, but may be wrong on that. A woman would very likely be asked to leave, though. Certain places like my university have breastfeeding-designated rooms.
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« Reply #28 on: December 12, 2012, 09:08:29 PM »

If your profile is correct, and you are in Ohio then it is protected by law. But since the indecent exposure law doesn't exclude breast feeding, there is a great deal of leeway.


http://breastfeedinglaw.com/


But with a local attitude toward breast feeding like you speak of, it is no surprise that Ohio only has 30-39% of babies still breastfeeding at 6 months.

http://www.inhabitots.com/cdc-breastfeeding-report-card-shows-best-and-worst-breastfeeding-states/
(for those offended by breastfeeding, don't look at the second page of the above article)
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« Reply #29 on: December 12, 2012, 09:23:42 PM »

If you profile is correct, and you are in Ohio then it is protected by law. But since the indecent exposure doesn't exclude breast feeding, there is a great deal of leeway.

http://breastfeedinglaw.com/

But with a local attitude toward breast feeding like you speak of, it is no surprise that Ohio only has 30-39% of babies still breastfeeding at 6 months.

http://www.inhabitots.com/cdc-breastfeeding-report-card-shows-best-and-worst-breastfeeding-states/
(for those offended by breastfeeding, don't look at the second page of the above article)
Interesting.

If you look at the comments people posted under the Ohio law page, you'll see what I mean about local sentiment.

However your second link speaks of breastfeeding in general, whereas cultural tabboo is against visual and public breastfeeding. The two might correlate, but I've known women to pump and/or breastfeed, but they do the latter in private and use bottles in public. This behavior is locally accepted as fine and/or a good thing.

Although, I heard recently of a woman sitting down in a store to breastfeed and she wasn't asked to leave, even though she was blocking up an aisle. It probably just varies.
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« Reply #30 on: December 12, 2012, 09:34:30 PM »

Unless a woman is VERY, VERY committed, they will not pump for exclusive feeding for longer than 6 months. Then women tend to give solids rather than pump because it is simply easier. Pumping is extremely time consuming. Public perceptions of breast feeding have a direct effect upon how long a woman will breast feed. Breast feeding for 2 years is recommended. If I pumped for every public feeding, I would have been pumping for about a decade solid now.


There is another issue that as a man you won't be able to understand. It takes excess milk to feed a baby a bottle. You produce enough milk for each feeding. So in order to have enough milk to skip a feed, you have to have a stockpile of milk large enough. On average a 2 month old baby eats somewhere around 3 oz every 2 hours. If you are out and about for 6 hours you need 9 oz of milk. Mom likely produces that much almost exactly. So she has to pump after every feeding. That 9 oz could take a week to a month to get. Pumping also has a direct effect on infant weight gain. Human milk, like cow milk, has a fatty component as well as a thinner component. You can pump and increase the foremilk which is thin. You can't increase the hindmilk. The hindmilk is what causes a baby to gain weight, as well as feel satisfied after a feeding. Too much foremilk causes colic, poor weight gain and a host of other issues.

Pumping takes a very, very long time. A pump can't get all the milk a baby can. I can feed my baby directly and get more down him in 15 minutes than I could from pumping for a half hour. The hormones that allow letdown are not triggered by pumping. It is depressing, isolating, and frustrating to pump.
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« Reply #31 on: December 12, 2012, 09:42:33 PM »

I think people have this idea that women produce milk like a tap. Although women produce milk continuously, we don't produce a limitless amount continuously. I can't just skip breast feeding an infant without some milk stockpiled AND discomfort. Skipping a feeding is not comfortable. Just like if you had a bladder full of 4 oz of urine for hours would not be comfortable. I am sure that you have had someone press upon your bladder while it was full. Now imagine how it would feel if that bladder was constantly brushed up against, and you were continuing to accumulate more and more urine until instead of 3 oz in your bladder you had 9 oz. Additionally, imagine if the sound of your child crying caused you to starting leaking! Women are not designed to skip a feeding without discomfort. And if you skip too many feedings, you lose supply. By feeding bottles you miss feeds, by missing feeds you tell your body to produce less milk.
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« Reply #32 on: December 12, 2012, 09:47:16 PM »

If the Theotokos had pumped for public feeding she would have had to do it ultra old school; the milking yourself into a bowl method! laugh
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« Reply #33 on: December 12, 2012, 10:05:46 PM »


I find this one kind of creepy.
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« Reply #34 on: December 12, 2012, 11:06:21 PM »

Don't tell Robert Lentz about this.
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« Reply #35 on: December 12, 2012, 11:35:03 PM »

Don't tell Robert Lentz about this.

I shudder to think what he'd do with it. Oh, wait - he's homosexual, with a predilection for painting gay blades. Though he has also painted Sts Felicity and Perpetua with lesbian intent ...
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« Reply #36 on: December 13, 2012, 08:51:18 AM »

May one breast-feed in Church?

Quote
Early this year, a Georgia [USA] woman claimed she was kicked out of worship for breast-feeding her infant. I know a bit of what she must have felt: On a family trip to St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, as I started to breast-feed my son in the sanctuary, I was whisked away by a security guard to the bathroom. Countless other Christian women, trying to feed their children without having to miss a sermon, have faced the disapproval of others who think breasts have no place in the sanctuary.

How widespread the no-breast-feeding rule is in U.S. churches is hard to say. But one thing's clear: Our squeamishness over breast-feeding has little precedent in the church. Instead, Christians have long celebrated this aspect of Jesus' early life. Church father Ephrem the Syrian wrote a collection of hymns on the Nativity, including this, which connects the humble picture of Jesus nursing from Mary's breasts to Jesus' generous provision as King of all creation:

The Lofty One became like a little child,
yet hidden in Him was a treasure of
Wisdom that suffices for all.
He was lofty but he sucked Mary's milk,
and from His blessings all creation sucks.
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« Reply #37 on: December 13, 2012, 11:23:39 AM »

Does this belong in the schlock icons thread?

You mean the Milk-giver icons posted? No. They're not schlock. Smiley
What's "milk-giver" in Greek? "Galatokos"?
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« Reply #38 on: December 13, 2012, 12:50:23 PM »


I've seen such. No one complained.

What's "milk-giver" in Greek? "Galatokos"?

Galaktotrophoussa
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« Reply #39 on: December 13, 2012, 12:54:03 PM »

Public breast-feeding was so common around where I grew up that hardly anybody gave it a thought. I mean there was nothing "counter-cultural" about it.
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« Reply #40 on: December 13, 2012, 01:05:57 PM »

Breast feeding isn't a big deal, but most I know have a cover for themselves since its inappropriate to expose yourself. I have to say that the Theotokos' exposure in those icons is wrong. At least cover her up, you can convey the same message in a better fashion.
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« Reply #41 on: December 13, 2012, 01:07:19 PM »

Breast feeding isn't a big deal, but most I know have a cover for themselves since its inappropriate to expose yourself. I have to say that the Theotokos' exposure in those icons is wrong. At least cover her up, you can convey the same message in a better fashion.
That's the point, they didn't cover themselves. Not those I saw at least.
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« Reply #42 on: December 13, 2012, 03:49:22 PM »

Unless a woman is VERY, VERY committed, they will not pump for exclusive feeding for longer than 6 months. Then women tend to give solids rather than pump because it is simply easier. Pumping is extremely time consuming. Public perceptions of breast feeding have a direct effect upon how long a woman will breast feed. Breast feeding for 2 years is recommended. If I pumped for every public feeding, I would have been pumping for about a decade solid now.


There is another issue that as a man you won't be able to understand. It takes excess milk to feed a baby a bottle. You produce enough milk for each feeding. So in order to have enough milk to skip a feed, you have to have a stockpile of milk large enough. On average a 2 month old baby eats somewhere around 3 oz every 2 hours. If you are out and about for 6 hours you need 9 oz of milk. Mom likely produces that much almost exactly. So she has to pump after every feeding. That 9 oz could take a week to a month to get. Pumping also has a direct effect on infant weight gain. Human milk, like cow milk, has a fatty component as well as a thinner component. You can pump and increase the foremilk which is thin. You can't increase the hindmilk. The hindmilk is what causes a baby to gain weight, as well as feel satisfied after a feeding. Too much foremilk causes colic, poor weight gain and a host of other issues.

Pumping takes a very, very long time. A pump can't get all the milk a baby can. I can feed my baby directly and get more down him in 15 minutes than I could from pumping for a half hour. The hormones that allow letdown are not triggered by pumping. It is depressing, isolating, and frustrating to pump.

Just to chime in, breast-feeding is not as easy as some would make it out to be.
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« Reply #43 on: December 13, 2012, 03:50:49 PM »

Breast feeding isn't a big deal, but most I know have a cover for themselves since its inappropriate to expose yourself. I have to say that the Theotokos' exposure in those icons is wrong. At least cover her up, you can convey the same message in a better fashion.
That's the point, they didn't cover themselves. Not those I saw at least.
Have to say, this is how it is still done in the Middle East. And if Muslims don't freak out at the sight of feeding breast, the Americans can get over it (btw, I still haven't. Comes from growing up in the US).
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« Reply #44 on: December 13, 2012, 04:06:13 PM »

Breast feeding isn't a big deal, but most I know have a cover for themselves since its inappropriate to expose yourself. I have to say that the Theotokos' exposure in those icons is wrong. At least cover her up, you can convey the same message in a better fashion.

It is only considered innapropriate in modern WASPy american culture.

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