Symbolisms of Saint Mary
 

In this discussion, we will focus on the symbolisms of Saint Mary, most of which come from the Old Testament. There is no woman about whom the prophets prophesied more about than the Virgin Mary. Many of her symbolisms are recited in the the various liturgical hymns especially the Sleeba and Kyamtha namaskaram.

The Burning Bush - The burning bush appeared to Moses in Exodus 3:2.  Again it was said of Christ that He is a "consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29). The fire burning inside the bush is a symbol of Christ and the bush itself symbolizes the Virgin.

The second stanza of the hymn "Dhanye Maathave' sung before the Holy Qurbana shows this symbolism.
Dhanye Maathave

സീനായ് ശൈലത്തില്‍ - മുശാ ദര്‍ശിച്ച

മുള്‍ക്കൂട്ടം കന്യേ! - നിന്‍ ചിത്രം തന്നെ

മാതാവേ! മുള്ളായ് - കണ്ടാന്‍ നിന്‍ദേഹം

തീ തീണ്ടാഞ്ഞോരാ - പ്പത്രം കന്യാത്വം

ഹാലേലുയ്യാ - ഹാലേലുയ്യാ

അന്തര്‍ഭാഗാഗ്നി - ഗര്‍ഭസ്ഥന്‍ ദൈവം.

Seenai Sailathil - moosha darsicha

Mulkkoottam kanye! - nin chithram thanne

Maathaave! mullai - kandaan nin deham

Thee theendaanjora - ppathram kanyaathvam

Haaleluiah - Haaleluiah

Anthar bhaagaagni - garbhasthan daivam.

Translation of the hymn:
Bush which Moses saw - upon Mount Sinai
was your right symbol - O! holy Virgin.
Leaves that did not burn - do sure represent
Your virginity; your body was bush;
Haleluyyah Haleluyyah
Fire in the bush, God - who did dwell in you. 

The Golden Pot of Manna - The manna is a symbol of Christ, who is the live bread who came down from heaven. Everybody who eats from Him lives by Him, and He is also the bread of life (John 6:32, 48). Since Christ is compared to the manna, Saint Mary is compared to the pot of manna, who carried this celestial bread inside her.

The Rod of Aaron that Budded - The Virgin miraculously "sprouted and carried the buds of life", (Numbers 17:6-8), as did Aaron's rod. A rod, of course, has no life in it that can produce blossoms and yield fruit, except by a miracle. This symbolizes the Virgin, who could not sprout or produce fruit, except through a miracle.

The Ark of the Testimony - This title refers to the sanctuary that God told Moses and the Israelites to build for Him in Exodus, Chapter 25. The ark was made of acacia wood that cannot be moth-eaten, and was covered with gold from inside and outside (Exodus 25:10, 22), which is a symbol of the purity and greatness of the Virgin. Christ was inside the Ark of The Testimony, and thus the Virgin is called the Ark of the Testimony because she carried Christ in her womb.

The curtains of Solomon - The curtains of Solomon (Soshapha of Shleemon or Urumaal of Shleemon) are the curtains of the temple of Jerusalem. This curtain was lavish in their opulence and beauty. This curtain was used to cover the holy of holies in the temple. Similarly the Virgin Mary was the cover for the true holy of holies; our Lord Jesus Christ.

The hymn 'Manna Nikshepitha Cheppum' (മന്നാനിക്ഷേപിത ചെപ്പും), from the intercessory prayer to the Theotokos talks about all these comparisons.

Manna Nikshepitha Cheppum 

മന്നാനിക്ഷേപിത ചെപ്പും

അഹറോന്‍ തന്‍ കിളുര്‍ത്ത വടിയും

ഉള്‍ക്കോണ്ടോരു നിയമപ്പെട്ടി

ശ്ലേമൂന്‍ തന്നുറുമാലുമിവ

       നിന്‍ സാമ്യം ദൈവജനനി

       അസ്പഷ്ടം നിബിയന്മാരും

       സ്പഷ്ടം ശ്ലീഹന്മാരും

       നിന്‍ സുതരഹസ്യം കാണിച്ചു

സതതം സ്തുത്യനാകുകയാല്‍

നിന്നുടെ സൂനു മ്ശീഹായെ

ഞങ്ങളെന്നും വണങ്ങുന്നു.

Manna nikshepitha cheppum

Aharon than kilurtha vadiym

Ulkkondoru niyamappetti

Shlemoon thann-urumalumiva

            Nin saamiyam daivajanaee

            Aspashtam nibiyanmarum

            Saspashtam sleehanmarum

            Nin sutha rahasyam kaanichu

Satatam stutyana-kukayaal

Ninnuda soonu Masheehaye

Njangalennum vanangunnu

 

The City of God - The prophecy of the following Psalm is realized in her: "Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God" (Psalm 87:3). It is also said of her, "the city of the great king." Also, certain prophecies which were said about Jerusalem are realized in her: "And of Zion it will be said, this one and that one were born in her; and the most High Himself shall establish her" (Psalm 87:5).

In the hymn 'Mosha Chamachoraa Pedaka' from the Noon Prayers of Sleeba Namaskaram talks about the symbolism to the Ark (pedakam) and also to the City (Puram).

Mosha chamachoraa pedaka

മോശചമച്ചൊരാ - പേടകദൃഷ്ടാന്തം

മറിയാമേ! ശ്ലോമ്മോ

ജീവജലത്തിന്‍ മുന്‍കുറിയാം

റൂഹാ തന്‍ ശോശപ്പാ ശ്ലോം

ഐശായന്‍ ദാവീദുക്തം

- സ്ഥിരമാം പുരമേ ശ്ലോമ്മോനി-

ന്നുദരത്തീ - ന്നുദയം ചെയ്തീശന്‍

Mosha chamachoraa pedaka drushtandam

Mariyamee! Shlommo-

jeevajalathin munkuriyam

Rooha than Shoshappa Shlom

Ishayan Daaviduktam

- sthiramaam purame Shlommo-nin-

-nnudarathee-nnudayam cheytheeshan

 

Translation of the hymn:
Peace thee Mary -
Ark of mysteries, That Moses did make 
Thy symbol as veil divine, That contained water of life
Peace to thee that strong city - Magnified by King David
Jesse's son; God came forth from thee!

The shut Gate in the East - This is the gate that Ezekiel saw, in which the Lord said, "This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter by it, because the Lord God of Israel has entered by it therefore it shall be shut (Ezekiel 44:1-2). The prophet saw the glory of the Lord at his gate which is in the East, and the house was filled with it (Ezekiel 43: 2, 4, 5). This gate symbolizes the virginity of Saint Mary who was from the countries of the East (Nazareth); and how this virginity remained sealed.

The Enclosed garden and the sealed fountain - Solomon talks about the enclosed garden and the sealed fountain in Songs 4:12. The enclosed garden and the sealed fountain came to represent the Virgin St Mary, whose hymen remained unbroken even by child birth.

The symbolism of the shut gate in the east, the enclosed garden, sealed fountain and the city of God can be seen in the hymn "Mohana Sundara Naamangal" from the midnight prayer of Shleeba Namaskaram.

Mohana Sundara Naamangal

മോഹനസുന്ദരനാമങ്ങള്‍ - നല്‍കീ പൂര്‍വ്വീക നീതിജ്ഞര്‍
കന്യക ദാവീദിന്‍ മകള്‍ മറിയാമിന്നായ്.
’പൂട്ടിയ വാതിലി’ തെന്നേവം
ഹസ്ക്കീയേലോതി:
’പൂട്ടിയതോട്ട മടച്ചോരു-
റ്റെ ന്നേവം ശ്ലേമൂന്‍’:
പുരി യെന്നേവം ദാവീദും
ജാതികളെപ്പോഷിപ്പിപ്പാന്‍
വിത്തില്ലതെ മുളച്ചൊരുനല്‍ - സസ്യം താന്‍ മശിഹാനാഥന്‍;
തല്‍സ്മൃതി മാനിച്ചന്‍ ഊഴിയിലും മേലും