Laundry Madonna

Yesterday, I was at the Catholic bookstore, and I found a holy card with an image of the Madonna and Child that I had never seen before.

laundry madonna3

Isn’t that great? Mary’s doing laundry, and Jesus is playing on the ground while He waits for His clothes to dry.

Apparently this image is called the Polish Madonna (not to be confused with the Black Madonna of Częstochowa), and I can barely find any information on it online, including the name of the artist. I know nothing about art, but I would guess it’s from the 20th century.

What little I can find online includes this, which is identical across several sites:

“This charming picture depicts Our Lady hanging laundry while the infant Jesus sits nearby. Polish legend has it that the bright warmth of the sun must shine upon the earth on Saturday, if only for a brief moment, in remembrance of Christ’s infancy when on that day Mary would wash immaculately clean his swaddling clothes so that Sunday might find delight in witnessing the baby God in pure and fresh-scented dress.”

This somewhat corresponds to what the lady at the bookstore told me, which was that there’s a Polish legend that the sun always shines on Saturday, if only for a few minutes, to recall the Blessed Mother doing laundry during the Flight to Egypt. I’m always fascinated by the folk-traditional aspects of Catholicism: these unwritten things that hark back to a time before the masses were literate, and the only records are oral.

As a convert from Protestantism, I don’t yet have a strong Marian devotion, so these unusual depictions appeal to me. I love this picture because it is so real: what mother hasn’t had a naked baby running around beneath her feet as she tries to get his clothes clean enough to put back on him?

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