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Maria del Sochorso,

The Story

Maria del Sochorso painting

The central image is the Madonna and Christ child, accompanied by angels carrying symbols of the Passion of Christ. These include the cross and lance used to pierce Christ's side at the Crucifixion.  The Christ Child seeks protection in his mother's arms as he looks over his shoulder at the angels. His backward gaze is usually interpreted as signifying awareness of his impending fate. Two saints, probably Saint Nicholas of Tolentino and Saint Bernard Tolomei, are shown in the lower corners, gesturing dramatically towards the Madonna and Child. The combination of these particular saints and the title “Maria del Soccorso,” which means “Madonna of Help,” suggests this devotional image was painted to help protect people against the plague in Italy in the seventeenth century.