Significant Images of Mary

Graduation Date

Spring 2005

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Granting Institution

Notre Dame de Namur University

Program Name

Art Therapy


Lizbeth Martin, PhD

First Reader

Richard Carolan, EdD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Roseanne Murphy, SND, PhD


The purpose of this historical thesis is to aid art therapists in recognizing the importance of a feminine or maternal figure, such as The Virgin Mary, in their client’s artwork. Understanding spiritual and/or religious figures, especially a universal mother figure, are crucial to art therapists in incorporating these into the therapeutic process. It is important to understand a client’s devotion to mother and/or Mary by understanding Mary and the mother archetypes in clients’ work and how the mother image or symbol has evolved in the Western culture. Therefore this thesis examines feminine goddess figures and Jungian theory, and then Mary, the greatest mother of all, reviewing and discussing different historical images of Mary and other maternal figures. The Virgin Mary is a powerful and significant person in history and culture. In looking at the role of the Virgin Mary in images, art therapists may find a link to issues of various types of attachment behavior. Being aware of this will enable the therapist to evaluate, to treat, and to help the client to live a healthy life. The theoretical foundation used is Bowlby’s Attachment Theory, and Jung’s work on archetypes and symbols. Using a survey, this thesis explores whether images of Mary are strongly associated with attachment and in what ways images of Mary might indicate different styles of attachment.