Inspired through Art: Mary and the Burning Bush by Nicholas Froment, 1476

Authored by Linus Meldrum in Issue #3.1 of The Catechetical Review

King René of Anjou, a fifteenth century nobleman, commissioned the French Renaissance painter, Nicholas Froment, to complete an image of the Virgin Mary for the Carmelite Church at Aix-en-Provence in southern France. The king requested that the triptych include two side panels depicting himself and his wife Jeanne de Laval, which would accompany the center panel of the Virgin. The center panel is a complex narrative that features Mary as the subject. It provides us with a rich set of visual experiences that help us to know not only who Mary is—as a literal person—but also how deeply the medieval theologians cultured encouragement toward devotion to Mary. Nicholas was commissioned to select the relationship of Mary to the Burning Bush encountered by Moses on Mount Horeb, the mountain of God in chapter three of the book of Exodus.
The history of art also gives examples. Here in this image of Mary, present at the encounter of Moses, is an angel and God on Mount Horeb. The artist is relying on typology to make a connection between the bush, supernaturally preserved from losing its identity as a living piece of nature and Mary as the Virgin, preserved in her virginity while still being Mary, Theotokos—the bearer of God.

The rest of this online article is available for current subscribers.

Start your subscription today!

This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting

Articles from the Most Recent Issue

Editor's Reflections: Leisure – God's Plan for Us
By Colleen Rainone
Free “ Life is what happens when you are making other plans.” How often people have said this with a wry smile as they cope with an untimely interruption to their well-ordered (or not-so-ordered), scheduled events. This phrase came to mind again, when Editor James Pauley informed me that he was losing his battle with a persistent cold, which developed... Read more
The Spirit of Leisurely Catholicism
By James Gaston
Free When I happened to mention to my wife that I was writing an essay about leisure, the following dialogue took place: Wife: “You can’t do that.” Me: “Why not?” Wife: “You don’t know anything about it. You’re working at something all the time.” Me: “That is somewhat true, but leisure isn’t really about what one does when one is not working. It’s... Read more
El espíritu católico del descanso
By James Gaston
Introducción Cuando le comenté a mi esposa que estaba escribiendo un ensayo acerca del descanso, se suscitó el siguiente diálogo: Esposa -No lo puedes hacer.- Yo -¿Por qué no?- Esposa -No sabes nada acerca de eso. Estás siempre trabajando en algo.- Yo -Hay algo de cierto en lo que dices, pero el descanso no trata precisamente de lo que se hace... Read more


Watch Tutorial Videos

We've put together several quick and easy tutorial videos to show you how to use this website.

Watch Now