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The Busted Halo Question Box
Ask our spiritual experts virtually anything!
This is the place where you can ask all of those burning questions that you wouldn't dare ask in person. We will post questions here (using your byline only with permission); we guarantee an answer to everyone.

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Our readers asked:

Where did the title “Madonna” come from for Mary?

Ginny Kubitz Moyer Answers:

“Madonna” is an Italian term meaning “my lady.”   It has been used for Mary since late medieval times, and helps to emphasize the relationship between Mary and those who honor her (its French equivalent is “Notre Dame,” or “Our Lady.”)

The term is very familiar to art historians.  Traditionally, the name “Madonna” is used for images of Mary holding the infant Jesus (do a quick Google search to see hundreds of examples of “Madonna and Child.”)  More rarely, it’s used for images that depict Mary without Jesus.   Though it was initially used only for Italian art, it has since become an accepted term for Marian art from all cultures.

The Author : Ginny Kubitz Moyer
Ginny Kubitz Moyer is the author of the award-winning book Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God. She lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area and blogs at randomactsofmomness.com.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Isabella Marie Patawaran


  • Sam Greer

    I dont understand if Jesus was Jewish why did he start the catholic church instead of just being Jewish?

    • Rachel Dennison

      you obviously don’t know much about Jesus. Jesus was a Jew, yes but he came to save the world, from the culture and the law…Being a Jew is not just the religion it is also the area/family you come from. The Catholic and Christian church came about from the followers of Jesus.

      • Isabella Marie Patawaran

        right…super like ;)

    • William Inglis

      Christ preached to only the Jews. It was after most of them had failed to respond that the Church moved to include Gentiles. All of the first converts were Jewish.

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