The Apocalyptic Woman

"The Apocalyptic Woman," University of Dayton, Learning Teaching Center


Sidney Matias


The Woman of the Apocalypse appears in Chapter 12 of the Book of the Revelation. In the narrative, this woman is about to give birth and there is a dragon, often identified as Satan, who wants to devour her new-born. This dragon attacks the woman unsuccessfully three times and after the third and last try, the dragon leaves to attack “the remnant of her seed.” This male unborn is interpreted to be Jesus, who is prophesied to rule over all nations with an iron rod (Revelation 12:5). The Woman is regarded as Mary and the Dragon as Satan, although it has also been interpreted to refer to Herod The Great who attempted to kill the new born Jesus. This narrative is parallel to that of the Flight to Egypt; in both stories outside forces are trying to end the life of Jesus Christ. During the medieval period this image of Mary became more tangible when astronomers named constellations after her. The Apocalyptic Woman is described as clothed in sun, with a crown of stars and standing on a crescent moon. As depicted in hymns such as "Ave Maris Stella," our Blessed Mother is also associated with a single star. Since the 16th century, The Virgin of Guadalupe began to be associated as the Madonna of the Apocalypse. Devotions surrounding the Woman of the Apocalypse can be seen in the Twelve Star Devotion, which was typically used in parishes but then led to more extensive celebrations in monasteries.

Oleszkiewicz-Peralba, Małgorzata. The Black Madonna in Latin America and Europe: Tradition and Transformation. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2007. Print.

Santoro, Nicholas J. Mary in Our Life: Atlas of the Names and Titles of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and Their Place in Marian Devotion. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse, 2011. Print.

Researched by Luis F. Russe Gonzalez

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of the Marian Library at the

University of Dayton.