AND THIS STONE SHALL BE GOD’S HOUSE (Genesis 28:22)
The statue of Our Lady Queen of Peace situated in the grounds of St James church at Medjugorje was created by the Italian sculptor Dino Felici ((1931-2002). Erected in 1987, it stands just over seven feet in height and is a focal point of prayer for the millions of pilgrims who visit the village of claimed apparitions of the Virgin Mary.
Compare the image of the Virgin with that of a drawing by the Italian polymath Leonardo da Vinci made sometime between 1504 and 1506. (source: Royal Collection Trust)
The likeness is remarkable – hardly a coincidence.
Bring the light of my Son and keep breaking the darkness which all the more wants to seize you. Do not be afraid. Through the grace and the love of my Son, I am with you.
Part message to Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo, March 2, 2020
Leonardo’s drawing was most likely inspired by a woman known as Simonetta Vespucci. She features in some of Sandro Botticelli’s paintings, most notably the Birth of Venus (born from the foam of the sea), and Venus and Mars.
Simonetta (née Cattaneo) originated from Porto Venere, in the province of La Spezia that is part of the Italian region of Liguria. In 1469 she moved to Florence to marry Marco Vespucci at the age of 16. Her husband was a distant cousin of the explorer Amerigo Vespucci whose name the term ‘America’ is derived from.
Simonetta was famed for her beauty, and when she died at the early age of 22 she was carried in an open coffin through Florence for all its citizens to admire.
Porto Venere is said to derive its name from a Roman temple dedicated to the goddess Venus. The town is close to the city of Carrara, less than 30 miles, famous for its marble quarries. Michelangelo’s statue of David is made from Carrara marble. So too is the statue at Medjugorje of Our Lady Queen of Peace.
Dino Felici hailed from the region of La Spezia. He was born at Ortonova (30 miles each way from Porto Venere and Carrara) but spent the last 30 years of his life living and working in Carrara.
So was the outstanding beauty of Simonetta Vespucci, as captured by Leonardo and other artists of his generation, the inspiration for Dino’s sculpture of Our Lady Queen of Peace? As said, the likeness is remarkable and inspired.
What is not so widely known is that Botticelli’s Birth of Venus is a representation of both Eve and Mary as Mother of the Church. She is shown naked as representing Eve and tilting as representing a Church in danger of collapsing – a pointer to the voice of God requesting St Francis to “Go and rebuild my church which, as you see, is falling down.”
Botticelli’s inspiration for the tilting Venus was a drawing of Ecclesia (the Church) from the Portfolio of Villard de Honnecourt.
Finally, this message of Our Lady, given through the Medjugorje seer Maria Pavlovic-Lunetti, warns of the destructive nature of evil against the Church and Christian life.
Dear children! Today again I would like to say to you that I am with you also in these troubled days during which Satan wishes to destroy all that my Son Jesus and I are building. He desires especially to destroy your souls. He wants to take you away as far as possible from the Christian life and from the commandments that the Church calls you to live. Satan wishes to destroy everything that is holy in you and around you. This is why, little children, pray, pray, pray to be able to grasp all that God is giving you through my coming. Thank you for having responded to my call. (September 25, 1992)