By J.E. GUERCIO
What's in a name? Plenty, when it concerns the dogma of the Catholic Church.
Recent research of the large painting of Mary in the Rectory parlor has revealed that the name Assumption of the Virgin after the 17th century Spanish artist Murillo is actually The Immaculate Conception of the Virgin. There are over twenty known versions of The Immaculate Conception by Murillo and his studio. Ten of these are easily found on the internet in museum collections. Of these ten, one is the source of the copy in the Rectory parlor.
The original The Immaculate Conception is presently in The National Gallery of London, England.
In defense of the "printed word" on page 76 of the book Cradle Days of St. Mary's at Natchez by Bishop R.O. Gerow where he referred to the painting as a "beautiful painting of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin," he was referencing the sequence of four letters written by Bishop Chanche from 1842 to 1847. Chanche did not ask for a painting--he asked the King and Queen of France for an "altar piece" and a bell. When the painting arrived in Natchez, Chanche called it "tableau de Sainteté." The name "Assumption d'aspres Murillo" had been given by the Directeur des Musees Royaux in the letter to Chanche dated 1847 February 26.
So, shall we call it for what it is? The Immaculate Conception of the Virgin after Murillo, painted in the copying studio of the Royal Museum and given by the King and Queen of France in 1845 to the First Bishop of Natchez for his cathedral (painting arriving in Natchez in March 1847).
The Immaculate Conception of the Virgin
A painting by the Spanish artist Murillo is presently in The National Gallery of London.
L- Image of painting in the St. Mary Basilica rectory.
R- Image of original painting in The National Gallery of London.