The Virgin and Child before a Firescreen, ca. 1440, Robert Campin
There is an actual devotion to Mary's breastfeeding?! I have been journaling on the topic of breastfeeding recently but had not decided when to start posting about it here. Clearly this painting and information was my sign that the time is now! Some readers might recall that what prompted me to pray to Mary for the first time in my life last fall was a night of insomnia, when I was full of anxiety about the plight of women, especially as relates to breastfeeding in society. I nursed my only child for a full 4 years before she began to ween. For La Leche League members, this type of extended breastfeeding is not unusual and is considered to be quite normal. But for most of American society, seeing a woman nursing her child is not something people are generally used to or comfortable with, even when the child is a newborn. I was met with a lot of tension and resistance in my own family of origin for my nursing practices. That night when I prayed to Mary, continuing strain over my mothering style was still an issue, and I was feeling depressed about the situation, although breastfeeding was no longer the problem of the day. When I prayed to Mary, I fell immediately asleep.
I don't know what prompted me to pray to her in the first place, but the next day she invited me to meet her at the Catholic Church in my town, where I discovered her Rosary garden, and she began that day to be my spiritual mother. I think it is going too far to say that her milk literally has the same saving qualities as Christ's blood, but I think that comment above is meant in a more poetic way. Christians throughout the ages have had mystical experiences with Mary's milk, and the contemplation of its spiritual implications could be truly edifying. I am going to continue to research this devotion to Our Lady of the Milk (Nuestra Senora de la Leche) . I'll leave you for now with this prayer: