Raphael’s Madonnas

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Raphael’s Madonnas: Images for the Soul

Includes a Lecture by Rudolf Steiner: “The Mission of Raphael in the Light of Spiritual Science” (Berlin, Jan. 30, 1913; CW 62)

Ultimately, the Madonna is the supreme representative of the Eternal Feminine for Western souls—the wisdom of Sophia, the compassion of Kwan Yin. Divine, cosmic, earthly, and human, she is primordial, contemporary, and still to come. Once and future, she is an evolving mystery, as we are, suggesting that our destinies are linked in ways beyond telling. We may strive toward her. We may discover her inwardly, feel united with her in a new way, in our own fashion, and find it healing. As the poet Novalis affirmed:

Mary, in a thousand images
Adorably I see you shown
But none of these can show
As my soul beholds you.

These images should be approached with reverence, an open heart, and an open mind, humble unknowing, vulnerability, and gratitude. The images will speak for themselves, in the moment, in a mode appropriate to your needs (even if you are unaware of them). In the pure encounter, something will happen. Let Raphael’s vision become vision in you. Hold it in your heart. Take it into sleep. Thumb through the book, the image that calls you will find you. Perhaps it will be a different image each time. Make it a daily practice and improvise.

Or simply enjoy the images. They will transform you anyway.

(Image shown: Madonna della seggiola, c. 1514, oil on wood, 28 in., Palazzo Pitti, Florence)

C O N T E N T S:

  • Introduction by Christopher Bamford
  • Raphael’s Madonnas (44 color images)
  • The Mission of Raphael in the Light of Spiritual Science (lecture by Rudolf Steiner)
  • Index of Images

About the Author

Raphael (née Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, 1483–1520) was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance. His work is admired for its clarity of form, ease of composition, and visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur. Together with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, he forms the traditional trinity of great masters of that period. Raphael was enormously productive, running an unusually large workshop and, despite his death at 37, leaving a large body of work. After his early years in Rome much of his work was executed by his workshop from his drawings, with considerable loss of quality. He was extremely influential in his lifetime, though outside Rome his work was mostly known from his collaborative printmaking.

Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) was born in the small village of Kraljevec, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now in Croatia), where he grew up (see right). As a young man, he lived in Weimar and Berlin, where he became a well-published scientific, literary, and philosophical scholar, known especially for his work with Goethe’s scientific writings. At the beginning of the twentieth century, he began to develop his early philosophical principles into an approach to systematic research into psychological and spiritual phenomena. Formally beginning his spiritual teaching career under the auspices of the Theosophical Society, Steiner came to use the term Anthroposophy (and spiritual science) for his philosophy, spiritual research, and findings. The influence of Steiner’s multifaceted genius has led to innovative and holistic approaches in medicine, various therapies, philosophy, religious renewal, Waldorf education, education for special needs, threefold economics, biodynamic agriculture, Goethean science, architecture, and the arts of drama, speech, and eurythmy. In 1924, Rudolf Steiner founded the General Anthroposophical Society, which today has branches throughout the world. He died in Dornach, Switzerland.

Christopher Bamford is Editor in Chief, Emeritus, for SteinerBooks and its imprints. A Fellow of the Lindisfarne Association, he has lectured, taught, and written widely on Western spiritual and esoteric traditions. He is the author of The Voice of the Eagle: The Heart of Celtic Christianity (1990) and An Endless Trace: The Passionate Pursuit of Wisdom in the West(2003). He has also translated and edited numerous books, including Celtic Christianity: Ecology and Holiness (1982);Homage to Pythagoras: Rediscovering Sacred Science; and The Noble Traveller: The Life and Writings of O. V. de L. Milosz (all published by Lindisfarne Books).

Additional information

Weight 13 oz
Dimensions 5.5 × .5 × 8.5 in


Christopher Bamford






November 2016






CW 62


Lindisfarne Books


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