Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Perhaps, one of the most intriguing and unusual representations of the Virgin Mary is that of Our Lady of the Light. It is an advocation that is very popular in Italy, Portugal and Mexico, under the name “La Madre Santisima de la Luz”. In the Philippines, Nuestra Snra. De la Luz is venerated as the patron of Cainta, Rizal ("Ina ng Kaliwanagan"). But in this depiction, she is more popularly known as “Salvacion”.

What is so extraordinary about this iconography is the fact that it was inspired by a vision of a holy woman in Palermo, Italy in 1722. When my antique dealer called me, he had a hard time describing the image to me. First, the elements of the tableaux have become separated. But once he went on with his description, it became clear that what he had was a rare Salvacion tableaux—which had about 6 separate components. (Think of buying 6 santos for the price of one!)

The main image is that of the Virgin with a blue mantle, carrying Child Jesus in Her arms..

 Overhead, Two Flying Angels hold a crown aloft, ready to be placed on the Virgin’s head. The winged duo were ingeniously stuck into the top of the Virgin’s head with a wire.

To the left, a Kneeling Angel holds a basket of flaming hearts (now missing), as an offering to the Virgin..

To the left, a Man or a Soul is shown, being snatched away by the Virgin…

..from the jaws of Satan, (looking very much like a Garuda's face here) thus giving meaning to her role and title.

The Virgin stands on a horned base (tips of the crescent moon), and on a typical ensaymada cloud base, on which a Cherub rests.

When the tin plaque was found, there was no doubt about the identity of this fine ensemble from Bohol, but bought in Bulacan for a most reasonable price.

 In my entire collecting life, I have only seen possibly less than a dozen Salvacions. I have only 2 in my modest collection, but not as complete as this. The hardwood image, I confirmed later, was of heavy molave. Some week-end whittling and a few hours with wood glue, nails, pegs and paint---and the Salvacion was saved!

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