If you subscribe to the Magnificat Missal, you saw this portrait of Our Lady by Diego Velazquez in this month's issue. It is one of my favorites. It shows how deeply belief in Mary's Immaculate Conception penetrated the Church two centuries before it was declared in 1854 by Pope Pius IX.
Often in religious art, Mary is looking up to heaven, but here her head is bowed in humility and reverence for God. Her gown is simple and the color muted. The only indication of her royalty is the crown of stars over her head and the gold trim on her mantle. This rendition of Mary seems to me to express her profound humility and modesty despite her exalted role as Queen of heaven and earth. May we learn from her to always desire God's will in our lives recognizing that everything we are and everything we have is by His grace. O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.
Prayer to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
O God, who by the Immaculate Conception
of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
did prepare a worthy dwelling place for Your Son,
we beseech You that, as by the foreseen death of this, Your Son,
You did preserve Her from all stain,
so too You would permit us, purified through Her intercession,
to come unto You.
Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, world without end.