By Elizabeth Prata
El Panecillo is a tourist attraction in Quito Ecuador. I was in Quito some years back and I snapped a photo of the famous statue. Then I messed with it in Photoshop and it came out like this:
Kind of end of the world doomish, don’t you think? I always titled it in my writings or categorized it in my files as “Angel of Quito”. Here is my original:
But before I even was saved, or knew Jesus, or knew the background of the statue, I was interested in it. I learned that it was called “The Woman of the Apocalypse.” But then I learned even more about the statue and what I learned made me sad. Because it is all wrong, I tell you, all wrong. Here’s the scoop.
The statue is not of an angel. It is of Mary, Jesus’s mother and termed in Catholic circles, The Madonna. Traditional iconography of Madonna statues is that she is standing on the globe and stepping on a snake, which indeed she is in the Quito statue. More unusual, are the wings. Madonnas are not typically adorned with them. The circle above her head is the circle of twelve stars as referred to in Revelation 12:1–18. Protestants usually interpret the verse describing the woman with 12 stars as mother Israel and her 12 tribes of sons.
However the iconography that the Catholics ascribe to Mary is heinous in the extreme. For example, transferring the commonly understood interpretation of the woman as a sign of Israel, to her instead being Mary is very bad. Secondly, the twelve stars are the tribes, but to Catholic tradition, she is Mary, Queen of Heaven. “The Catholic teaching on this subject is expressed in the papal encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam, issued by Pope Pius XII. It states Mary is called the Queen of Heaven because her Son, Jesus Christ, is the King of Israel and heavenly King of the Universe. The Eastern Orthodox churches do not share the Catholic dogma, but have themselves a rich liturgical history in honor of Mary. The title Queen of Heaven has long been a Catholic tradition, included in prayers and devotional literature, and seen in Western art in the subject of the Coronation of the Virgin, from the High Middle Ages, long before it was given a formal definition status by the Church.” (source).
There is only one Monarch in heaven, Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Mary, of course, is not royalty and her station as shown above the world is a false elevation of who she really was: a forgiven sinner just like us.
Worst of all are the iconic depictions of her stepping on the snake. In Genesis 3:15 we read, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” This is the prophetic pronouncement from God to Adam and Eve in the garden of the coming hope, Jesus Christ. Switching HIS work to crush sin and death (Dan 9:24; Rev 20:14) to Mary’s work is idolatry in the extreme.
As Matthew Henry said in his commentary of the crushed snake and bruised heel, “A gracious promise is here made of Christ, as the deliverer of fallen man from the power of Satan.” Mary does not deliver us from sin, though the cumulative iconography and traditional teachings of the Catholic Church is that she does.
So all that time when I was in Quito and I had been looking at this iconography in statuary and paintings, I never knew how wrong it was. After having snapped the photo and worked with it on my computer, I never knew how dishonoring it was to the Lord. But now that I am saved, I detected immediately the erroneous parts that made up a dastardly whole.
I don’t quite know what I’m trying to say here, other than how easy it is to be deceived. As a non-believer of course, the things of God make no sense and that person is not expected to be able to detect the nuances or differences between true and false doctrine, symbols, or idolatry vs. true worship. But as an unsaved person, I absorbed those false views, and after salvation I had to work at dispensing with the false notions that had littered my mind and heart.
Even Christians though, are often fooled by religious works that mirror something that seems full of truth but isn’t really. I have been surprised lately when mentioning some of the false things contained within Roman Catholicism, that fellow believers are not aware that they are even false in the first place, never mind being able to point to the bible on how or where.
Please always stay within the Word, in prayer, and in fellowship with Christians in these troubled days. We need each other, the false is everywhere and the true is harder to find. Bless His name, though, because on the Last Day, He will not be hard to find. He is coming in great power and glory (Rev 1:7) to demonstrate in power and glory (Mt 24:3) that HE IS FAITHFUL AND TRUE! (Rev 19:11). He is the only true God and there is no other. (Is 45:5).
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