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"Soul Sisters: Late Medieval and Renaissance Nuns’ Devotion to the Nursing Madonna image"

Updated: Jan 12


Candlemas Eve Lecture in Honour of the late Dr Cathy Oakes

1st February 2023 at 7pm (UK)


As we welcome the New Year, we look forward to our first online event of 2023 and hope you will be able to join us.


We have invited Dr Cecelia Dorger, whose research focuses on Medieval and Renaissance sacred art, to give our Candlemas Eve lecture on 1st February 2023 at 7pm GMT (01:00 pm CT; 02:00 pm ET). This event is organised in honour of our late colleague Dr Cathy Oakes, who was an art historian and one of the founding members of the Centre for Marian Studies. Cathy was an expert in medieval Marian iconography and her untimely death in 2019 remains a great loss to our charity on both a personal and academic level.


As a tribute to Cathy, Dr Dorger will give a presentation entitled "Soul Sisters: Late Medieval and Renaissance Nuns’ Devotion to the Nursing Madonna Image". She will focus on Seated Madonna Nursing (Uffizi Gallery)* which is found among the surviving drawings of Suor Plautilla Nelli (1524 – 1588), known as the first Renaissance female painter and one of the few women discussed by Giorgio Vasari in his Lives of Painters, Sculptors and Architects. Dr Dorger will discuss the questions raised by the existence of this exquisite (but rebellious) image. Her paper will examine the motives for nuns’ devotion to the Madonna lactans motif and how, as imitators of Mary, nuns used the image in prayer to establish an intimate reciprocal relationship between Christ and the devotee.


Having recently retired from a long career teaching art history at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, Dr Dorger is now an adjunct professor at the Mount St. Mary Seminary and School of Theology in Cincinnati, Ohio. Dr. Dorger is a four-time recipient of the Donald Payton Graduate Award in Art History and twice the recipient of the Frederick and Elizabeth Cressman Scholarship from the University of Louisville. Her awards include four Mount St. Joseph University outstanding teaching awards and an Ohio Magazine’s Excellence in Ohio Education Award. Some of her publications about the Madonna lactans image can be found in Chicago’s Newberry Library Center for Renaissance Studies selected proceedings publication, and in the International Marian Research Institute’s publication, Marian Studies.


This event will take place via Zoom. If you have not already done so, please click the button below to register for free.




*In compliance with Decree Law no. 83 of 31/05/2014 clause 12.3 turned into in Law no. 106 of 29/07/2014, the reproduction of artworks is free only if realized for non-profit activities, for study, research, free manifestation of individual thought, creative expressions, support of the knowledge of cultural heritage. It is also free to spread the reproductions by any means except they be furtherly reproduced, also indirectly, for profit activities.

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