September 25th is the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of “Divine Shepherdess”.
The “Divine” in Divine Shepherdess is NOT NOT NOT divinizing her, but rather saying that she was the caretaker, the shepherdess of THE LAMB, which is exactly correct: she carried Him, bore Him, nursed Him, raised Him, and then was present at His Ritual Slaughter. She is the Shepherdess of the Divine Lamb.
The iconography of the Divine Shepherdess almost always involves a wide-brimmed hat, usually of straw, preferably with a ribbon, but not exclusively. As a daily hat-wearer, and the bigger the better as far as I’m concerned, you all can imagine that I’m VERY enthusiastic about this little-known feast.
Here is a short blurb about the origins of the Feast and its iconography, followed by select images of the Divine Shepherdess (I love how Our Lord gets His own little hat, too!), followed by me piously emulating her with my head coverings. 😇🙏🏻
Madonna, Divine Shepherdess, Spain (1703)
In 1703 Mary was given the title Divine Shepherdess, bestowed upon her by Father Isidore of Spain after a vision in which the Blessed Mother appeared to him as a shepherdess.
Father Isidore was born of a rich and noble family of Seville, in 1662. He was the pride of his family and looked upon as a prince among his associates. At the age of nineteen he entered the Capuchin Order. He was devoted to Our Lady from childhood and much more so after entering the religious life. After completing his studies he was sent to a monastery in Cadiz. Here he with Father Feliciano erected small shrines to Our Lady along the roadways. They taught the people how to sing the rosary walking along the street. This custom Father Isadore brought with him on returning to Seville. In such a worldly atmosphere this came as a surprise to the people. Cantina and tavern loungers found themselves sliding out the taverns and joining him, to become part of the sheepfold of Mary.
During one of these street tours Christ’s words, ‘I am the Good Shepherd” flashed across the Father’s mind. That night he had a vision of the Blessed Virgin. She appeared as a young shepherdess with a crook in her hand and a large straw hat falling over her shoulders. The next morning the priest hurried to an artist’s shop in a suburb of Seville, telling of his vision; he gave Miquel de Tovar, the artist, an order that a picture be painted of Our Lady as she had appeared to him. “Our Lady,” he said, sat on a rock under a tree. Her face radiated divine and tender love. Over a red tunic she wore a jacket of white sheepskin such as shepherds wore; from her shoulders hung a blue mantle. A large straw hat, held by a ribbon, dangled over her left shoulder. Near her right hand was a shepherd’s crook, symbolic of the love and care she gives her children. In her left hand she held a rose, while the right hand rested on the head of a lamb, which had sought shelter in her lap.
BIG STRAW HATS, LADIES!!!!