Chapter

Mary, Militant and Maternal

Porter-Szücs Brian

in Faith and Fatherland

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780195399059
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199896844 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195399059.003.0010
Mary, Militant and Maternal

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Polish Marianism gains much of its power from the way it links seemingly contradictory models of femininity together within a nationalist framework. On the one hand, Mary is a powerful, sometimes militant protector of Poland; on the other hand, she is an exemplar of feminine domesticity. She guides the nation to victory even as she demonstrates how to sustain the national hearth and home. Polish national rhetoric has shifted over the years back and forth between geopolitical ambitions and the disciplining of social relations, and Polish Marianism has smoothly shifted along with it. In Poland, Mary’s function as a model of obedience, domesticity, and compassion became a central component of her modern visage, but her royal power continues to be evoked in the struggle against the nation’s enemies. The Virgin provides an image of authority and power which poses little challenge to traditional norms of femininity—indeed, she is frequently called upon to fortify those norms. Marianism thus provides some of the glue that helps hold together two otherwise distinct strains of Polish national thought, one focused on maintaining sharply delineated gender relations and the other on attaining victory against the enemies of God and the Fatherland.

Keywords: Stefan Wyszyński; Pope John Paul II; Karol Wojtyła; Marianism; Częstochowa; Matka-Polka; feminism; domesticity

Chapter.  14869 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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