The Immaculate Conception

Church of St. John the Baptist, Treviso, Italy

The moon is an unambibuous indication that this is an Immaculate Conception image. It refers to Revelation 12:1, "And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars," which from the the 17th century onward was taken to refer to the Virgin Mary as "Immaculata" (free of the stain of Original Sin).

However, several indications suggest the statue may have originally been a representation of Mary's assumption into Heaven. The moon is larger in proportion to the figure than is usual in Immaculate Conception images, as if it were a later addition to the sculpture. There is no circlet of stars behind the head. The shaping of the mantle as if blown by the wind is sometimes seen in Assumption images but only rarely in those of the Immaculate Conception, where Mary's hands are almost always pressed together in prayer, not held palm-out in an open gesture as here.

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Photographed at the site by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.