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In the Catholic Church especially, but also other denominations, Mary (ie, mother of Jesus) is often depicted with a blue mantle.

Does anyone know the origin of this, and what it is meant to mean?

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The blue mantle of Mary seems to have originated around the year 500 AD and is of Byzantine origin. Most sources seem to point to this date as the Byzantine origin of the color blue of Mary's mantle.

Why Does the Blessed Virgin Mary Wear Blue?

In many artistic portraits of the Blessed Virgin Mary, she is depicted wearing a blue mantle. Why blue?

In first century Galilee, Mary’s clothing would probably not have much color. It would have been more flaxen-wool colored. Villagers may have used available plants to produce some modest dyes. Purple and blue were reserved for the rich and ruling classes because plants for those dyes were more rare. Red was used for the Roman army because plants producing red dyes were readily available.

As Mary has appeared throughout the centuries, she has worn different colors and styles of clothing.

•Our Lady of Fatima (1917) appeared to the children wearing a gown and mantle of white with gold trim and a crown.

•Our Lady of Lourdes (1858) appeared to Bernadette wearing a simple gown and mantle of white with a blue sash.

•Our Lady of Guadalupe (1531) appeared to Juan Diego wearing a gown of rose and a mantle of blue with gold stars.

Fr Johann Roten SM, director of the Marian Library-International Marian Research Institute at the University of Dayton (a Catholic college) wrote: “Mary’s dark blue mantle, from about 500 AD is of Byzantine origin and is the color of an empress.”

Blue has been a color associated with royalty, peace, and nature (sea and sky). So it makes sense that artistic renditions of Mary portray the Queen of Heaven and Earth in blue.

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The Book of Numbers 4:6 discribes a blue cover that was to be placed over the Arc Of the Covenant.

Then they are to cover the curtain with a durable leather, spread a cloth of solid blue over that and put the poles in place (Numbers 4:6).

Mary, the Mother of the 2nd Person in the Trinity, the mother of God, is considered to be the arc of the New Covenant and often portrayed with a blue covering.

Those things that the Arc of the Old Covenant had within it, the Words of God, the Staff of the High Priest, and the Manna, are fulfilled in the New Covenant and Perfected in Mary who within her was the True Word of God, the True High Priest and the True Bread of Life.

CCC 2676 “Rejoice … O Daughter of Jerusalem … the Lord your God is in your midst.” Mary, in whom the Lord himself has just made his dwelling, is the daughter of Zion in person, the ark of the covenant, the place where the glory of the Lord dwells.

What the Catholic Church passes on and teaches throughout Salvation History is what it displays in it's art.

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  • This is an interesting answer. But it's unclear whether this is based on official Catholic teaching and tradition or whether it is your personal idea and take on the question. Can you provide quotes and references from Catholic sources to show that this is a teaching or tradition of the Catholic Church—or of some other Christian denomination that also depicts Mary in blue, and may have its own distinct history and tradition behind this? – Lee Woofenden Dec 8 '16 at 19:40
  • @LeeWoofenden I hope that helps a little, as far as sacred art and the intentions of artist, I believe Razinger had something in "The spirit of the Liturgy" but I'm not sure if he mentions the vail directly. I'll do a little more searching. – Marc Dec 8 '16 at 19:52
  • Interesting indeed is your answer. Although not all an answer in a traditional point of view, it could certainly have some genuine insights considering that in the Litanies of the Virgin Mary, she is invoked under the title: Ark of the Covenant, pray for us. – Ken Graham Dec 8 '16 at 20:54

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