Calling Names: Friend or Faux?

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Calling Names: Friend or Faux?

Symbolism behind Madonna's name and her daughter, Lourdes' name; plus our big conclusion!

A Portrait of the Madonna

She might upset alot of Catholics, but her name is downright Holy. The Madonna is a Roman Catholic title for Mary, mother of Jesus. It comes from the Italian "Mia Donna" which means "My Lady". There are many art works with the title The Madonna or similar titles like Madonna and Child, often depicting Mary caring for Jesus as a baby or toddler. It's a tough name to live up to, and in a way she has. She may not have given birth to the messiah, but she certainly took over the world in her own way. Strong women need strong names, so I suppose Madonna took her name seriously. For her conformation name, she chose Veronica, to add to her two Christian names, Madonna Louise, as "a tribute to St. Veronicia"(1). Madonna takes her first name quite seriously and constantly plays with the images of the Virgin and the Whore. This is seen in the titles of her first four albums: Madonna, Like a Virgin, Like a Prayer, and The Immaculate Collection.

A Portrait of "the" Madonna.

Though some religious fanatics have called her an anti-Christ, when it came to naming her baby daughter in 1996, Madonna decided to keep the tradition of religious names alive for the females in her family. In February 1858, a 14-year-old local girl, Bernadette Soubirous claimed the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to her in the remote Grotto of Massabielle. A statue of Our Lady of Lourdes was erected at the site in 1864. Over the years, Lourdes has become one of the world's leading Marian shrines. Yearly from March to October the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes is the place of mass pilgrimages from Europe and other parts of the world. The spring water from the grotto is believed by some to possess healing properties. An estimated 200 million people have visited the shrine since 1860, and the Roman Catholic Church has officially recognized 68 miracle healings(2).


Why Madonna & Religion are Enemies:
Though I hate to say it, since I am a Madonna fan, but the woman does exploit religion. When she was making her Like a Prayer video she knew it was going to upset Christian's, without a doubt, and she played that to her best advantage, just as she's done with all the controversies around her. Madonna has exploited religion and sex constantly throughout the years, so I have to say that if you are a really conservative Christian or Jew, and you hate Madonna, I really can't argue with you, there's nothing conservative about her, and she's used sex and religion to promote herself for years.


Why Madonna & Religion are Friends:
Would you know what Kabbalah was if it wasn't for Madonna? I wouldn't! Madonna might exploit it, but she always shines light on religion and gives it tons of free publicity. She's turned half of Hollywood into Kabbalahists (which frankly, is a lot better then them all being Scientologists), and in a way she's kind of made religion cool. When I was a kid and I saw the Like a Prayer video, I thought wearing a cross was cool, and fashionable, and because of Madonna sporting a cross became fashionable; and even though Jewish people got upset over the Hebrew scripture in her Die Another Day video, after the video came out Hebrew scripture became more popular than Chinese characters in the tattooing market. She makes religion cool.

In the end there are always going to be people who hate Madonna, and people who love Madonna; of course most people on the love side of the spectrum probably won't be devout Christian's (well minus my grandma...but that's another story). She has always used things like religion and sex to her advantage, but on the other hand she also seems to be interested in them and have knowledge about them, so whether or not you think she's a friend or a faux to religion is really up to you.

1. Guilbert, Georges-Claude. Madonna as a Postmodern Myth.
McFarland and Company Publishing, 2002. pg. 92
2. Kaufman, Suzanne K. Consuming visions : mass culture and the Lourdes shrine.
Publication info  Ithaca : Cornell University Press, c2005.