The Gospel Of A Grieving Mother


Claire Cameron celebrates Colm Tóibín’s The Testament of Mary, praising the way the novelist “fit his story in between what we know and how we feel,” resulting in a story about Jesus and his followers that powerfully resonates with our own experiences of grief and tragedy:

We know the Bible. In Tóibín’s telling, the writers of the gospel were attempting to tell a story about redemption. When they hear Mary’s version of the crucifixion, they discount it and go on to write about a resurrection instead. We feel a mother who has lost her son. Tóibín’s intimate approach makes Mary feel more credible and human than the other versions of her we’ve come across before, whether they be in a crèche, a church or on a piece of toast. To her, the crucifixion was a horrific tragedy and this intuitively feels right. No parent could see the torture and death of his or her child in any other way.

(Image: “The Madonna in Sorrow” by Giovanni Battista Salvi, via Wikimedia Commons)