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Rome Reports

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Century-old original painting of “Madonna of the Streets” still lost

This endearing image reflects both the vulnerability and kindness of a young mother. Perhaps that is why it’s among the most popular religious items, sought after by first-time mothers.

“Sales of this item are very high. People love it because it’s simply gorgeous. Her face is beautiful.”

“This particular image became part of a tradition in Italy. Mothers place a copy of it, in their child’s crib. Blue for boys and pink for girls.”

While the image itself is popular, the history behind it, is not. At its very core, it represents motherhood. The artist, Roberto Ferruzzi, first introduced it at the Venice Biennale art exhibit in 1897, where it became an instant hit. The source of inspiration was a photograph of a humble young woman, who was carrying her brother in her arms.

The name of the young woman is believed to be Angelina Cian. She never outright expressed her role in the world-renowned image, but one of her daughters, who was a nun, discovered it years later.

The original print was eventually lost. The town of Luvigliano, where the artist passed away is now trying to recover it. Until that day comes, the search for the iconic image that so many people link to Our Lady and a young mother’s love will continue.

Translation: Melissa Butz