Mary Magdalene as Orantes by Marko Rupnik

Mary Magdalene as Orantes by Marko Rupnik.
This posture is not a lamenting pose but is called the orans pose, meaning “prayer” in Latin. The archetype of the woman with arms raised is referred to as Orantes, and may have been a borrowed image from ancient Goddess worshipping societies such as those in ancient Sumer and Crete. Orantes figures prominently in funerary art dating back to the Roman catacombs of the 2nd and 3 rd centuries, AD. She is always feminine in gender and has been interpreted in a variety of ways such as denoting prayer, the soul in a state of peace in paradise, or as a figure transmitting peace to the bereaved. Margaret Starbird suggests she probably represented the Goddess as psychopomp, one who acts as mediator between heaven and earth assisting the soul on the journey into the afterlife. Her spiritual power and purpose arises out of her role as a high priestess. Mary Magdalene is often depicted as Orantes. She is depicted in the orans pose in numerous representations of the crucifixion and entombment in iconography and paintings of the Renaissance.

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