Madonna della Salute (Madonna Salus Infirmorum)

The Italian title is generally taken to mean "Our Lady of Health," while the Latin means "Our Lady Health of the Sick." But another tradition traces the name to the Virgin Mary's complaining to Pope Gregory the Great that "you no longer come to salute me." Both the Italian Salute and the Latin Salus can also mean "salvation."

The painting on the left is a late exemplar located in Rome's Santa Maria Maddalena, in the chapel of St. Camillo de Lellis, patron saint of nurses and founder of what is now known as the Order of Ministers to the Sick. As in the much older examplar in the Basilica of Cosmas and Damian (also in Rome), the Christ Child points to his mother with his right hand while his left hand caresses that of his mother.

Another exemplar in stained glass, modeled after the Maddalena Madonna rather than the one at Cosmas and Damian, is in the Sanctuary of St. Camillo in Milan. In Venice, the style of the exemplar in the Church of the Madonna della Salute bears a distinct Greek influence: Two angels and the Greek abbreviations MP ΘU and IC XI flank Mary's head, she is more clearly pointing to the Child, and both have elaborate crowns. Although Mary's face is turned partly to her left, the eyes themselves gaze directly at the onlooker, as in Hodegetria icons.

More of portraits of the Virgin Mary

Photographed at Santa Maria Maddalena by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.