Our Lady of Expectation

Sculptor : Juan Alberto Pérez Rojas
Date | 2022
Materials : Gilded terracotta and oil polychrome
Dimensions : 135 cm
Location : Corpus Christi Parish Church (Malaga)

Description of the work

The new sculpture of the Virgin of the Expectation made for the parish of Corpus Christi in the city of Malaga, is a round sculpture of round bulk, smaller than life size, based on the classical compositions of the Spanish Marian statuary of the Baroque period; the figure is placed on a cloud, like a footstool, with angels' heads that hover around the Virgin.

The sculptor Juan Alberto Pérez Rojas starts from the vision described by the Apostle John in the Apocalypse (Rev 12, 1-2) of the woman clothed with the sun, pregnant and in great labor pains; the composition is articulated with a classic contrapposto where the figure rests the weight of the body on her left leg, advancing the right that is somewhat higher as the foot rests on one of the heads of winged angels. On the torso, slightly leaning backwards, in an unmistakable gesture of pregnancy, the right hand rests on the chest, while the left hand rests, in a delicate gesture, on the prominent belly. The head is slightly turned to her right and presents a beautiful childlike face, typical of the Andalusian baroque tradition that used to represent the Virgin in this way. Her hair is completely unkempt, made up of hairnets that fall over her shoulders, being more forward on her left side.

The polychrome of the figure is very rich, using the traditional colors of the Blessed Virgin, blue for the mantle that shows a perimeter border of eighteenth-century inspiration composed of "C" and "S" with rocaille. The mantle falls over the shoulders and is gathered unevenly on both arms. For the tunic, knotted at the waist and that helps to enhance the modeling of the belly, has used the color light hyacinth, with similar decoration covering the lower legs and sleeves.

The flesh tones of both the Virgin and the angels are light, with greater intensity on the cheeks and hands.

As for the composition of the cloud, of rounded forms, it presents three heads of winged angels where the author shows the mastery of the modeling of the natural used in the portraits of these heads. He adapts them to the sculptural language of the imagery where he composes the loose hair, which together with the disposition of the wings, gives gracefulness to the base.

Historical data of the festival

The feast of "The Expectation" has its origin in Spain, land of Mary Most Holy. It is dedicated to commemorate the Maternity of Our Lady and we can qualify it as an "echo" of the feast of the Annunciation, which, in fact, celebrates the same mystery. At the beginning it was only a translation to December 18 of the feast of March 25. It was in the tenth Council of Toledo, in 656, with special protagonism of the then bishop of that see, St. Eugene III, who intervened in its expansion and where the fathers fixed the date of the celebration. In the acts of the said Council of Toledo we have the reason that moved the Spanish Bishops to make the transfer of dates:

"Because on the day on which the Angel communicated himself to Mary, this mystery cannot be worthily celebrated, on account of the sorrows of Lent or the paschal joys, which often fall on it, we declare and command that the eighth day before the birth of the Lord be consecrated with all solemnity to the honor of his Mother."

Thus, for several centuries, the feast of the Annunciation was celebrated in Spain on a different date than in the rest of the world. It was only in the 16th century, when the Roman liturgy was fully adopted in Spain, that March 25 was taken up again as the date of the feast of the Annunciation. The celebration of the Annunciation on December 18 ceased, but such had been for several centuries the devotion of the people to this feast, that it was deemed necessary to keep a remembrance. A new Feast was therefore instituted, that of the Expectation of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin, a title given to it by St. Ildefonso: "Expectation of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin".

This feast is also known as that of "Our Lady of Hope", due to the fact that she is awaiting her virginal birth, and of "Our Lady of the "O". The occasion of this name are the great Antiphons that are sung these days, and, above all, of the one that begins: O Virgo Virginum! (kept in the Vespers of the Office of the Expectation, without omitting for that reason the one of the day: O Adonai!).

December 18 was celebrated in Spain with great devotion. During the eight days it lasted, a solemn Mass was sung at dawn, to which all pregnant women, of whatever class they belonged, were deemed obliged to attend, to honor Mary in her divine pregnancy and to request for themselves her maternal protection.