Colm Toibin’s Virgin Mary is far from meek and mild

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RNS file photo by Nick Crettier / National 
Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

RNS file photo by Nick Crettier / National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

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(RNS) The traditional Christmas image of the Virgin Mary -- silent, obedient, observant -- has cemented a potent ideal in the Western imagination. Now the masterful Irish writer Colm Toibin puts a jackhammer to the cozy, safe, Christmas-card version in "The Testament of Mary.'' By Karen Long.

  • David

    It sounds interesting enough, but I can’t help but feel that stories likes these are blasphemous, at least in principle. Where is the cultural value in such yarns? How does it preserve the Heritage of the Holy See? I don’t see that it does.

    I’m unsettled by this trend of (supposed) Christians’ taking to Biblical figures in the same way that comic book characters are placed in alternate universes’ and timelines, drawing them with new features and in unusual circumstances.

    I’ve yet to read Toibin’s novella, but I’m unsettled by the concept in principle and how it stands to project a unknowable and dramatized image in the collective minds of its readers about the life of the Immaculate Mother and Her experience after the Crucifixion of Christ.

    There’s something just “off” about that!

  • Rev., Leslie Aguillard,RN rretired

    The entire idea of “blasphemy” is antiquated and non-productive in modern society. This books sounds fine to me. If Jesus was indeed a historical man (and not the last great permutation of the solar god of ancient times) then he had a real woman as a mother. I had thought she was cared for by Magdallan until her death, but one unprovable story is much like the next. There is nothing wrong with critical reviews of ancient beliefs especially if such beliefs are NOT engendering love, caring, compassion and cooperation among people. We need these positive things now more than ever. Enough with the bigoted hatreds and narrow minded dogmatism of the past… that is toxic and useless in today’s age.