Maria Madre de Atocha

Color
As Shown
  • Maria Madre de Atocha
  • Mary Our Lady of Atocha
  • Late 19th Century Original Retablo Oil Painting on Tin created in Mexico.
  • Retablo dimensions are approx. 10 inches horizontal x 7 inches vertical.
  • Condition: in excellent, clean, original condition with some minor paint loss acquired over more than a century of use and devotional prayer.
  • The devotional tradition of the Santo Niño de Atocha is a rich story, both in history and in devotion. Although the Holy Child is the Miracle Worker, devotion was originally Marian. As is appropriate, before a child is asked to do something, the person requesting must first apply for permission to the child's mother. In this way, the prayers and novenas for the Child of Atocha begin with a prayer to Mary, Our Lady of Atocha.
  • According to tradition, devotion to Our Lady of Atocha and Her Miracle Child originated in Antioch, and St. Luke the Evangelist was the sculptor of the first image of mother and child. In this way, it is possible that the word Atocha comes from Antiochia. The devotion to Our Lady with that name spread quickly, and in 1162 there was a beautiful medieval statue in the Church of Santa Leocadia in Toledo. In 1523, Charles V of Spain paid a huge temple and placed the statue under the care of the Dominicans. The image of the Holy Child was detachable, and devout families borrowed the image of the child when a woman was about to give birth to her baby.
  • The devout legend of the miracle worker, the little Santo Niño, arose in Spain. In Atocha, a suburb of Madrid, many men were in prison because of their faith. As the jailers did not feed the prisoners, the families brought their food. At one time, the Caliph issued an order that no one except children of twelve years or younger could bring food to the prisoners. Those who had young children could keep their families alive, but what would happen to others? The women of the village begged Our Lady, asking her to help them find a way to feed their husbands, children and brothers. Soon, the children returned to their homes with a strange story. A young boy visited and fed the prisoners who had no young children to feed them. None of the children knew who he was, but the little bowl of water he was carrying was never empty, and the basket was always full of bread to feed all the unfortunate prisoners who had no children of their own to bring them food. He would arrive at night, passing by the guards who slept or smiling kindly to those who were awake. Those who had asked for a miracle to the Virgin of Atocha began to suspect about the identity of the little boy. As a way of confirming it, the shoes of the statue of the baby Jesus were worn out. When they were replaced by new ones, those were also worn out. After Ferdinand and Isabella expelled the Moors from Spain in 1492, people continued to invoke the help of Our Lady of Atocha and her Holy Child. 
  • Note from Brian: I purchased this Retablo early on in my collecting from my beloved friend, scholar and Master Dealer James Caswell. There was such a charm to this compelling image; the freshness and gentility of the Virgin, the seeming movement that was captured in the painting, as if the Virgin and the Beloved Nino were hurrying off to help the next petitioner, the next person in need. The gentle sweet expression of the Infant in his Pilgrim's Finery. It was all together very potent in the image's charm. Coupled with the story of the Miracle of the Nino of Atocha miraculous visits to prisoners in need, I had to have it! I believe Caz only had it available for a 1/2 day before I snatched this little gem of a painting.


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