The Madonna of the Suffering Child by Sr. Stephanie Matcha

The Madonna of the Suffering Child by Sr. Stephanie Matcha

The Madonna of the Suffering Child embraces her Child Christ suffering in all humanity. And, although the artist’s chalk drawing portrays the very youngest of children, the depth of emotion expressed in each child reflects the pains suffered by people of all ages. The Madonna mothers the wounded child in each of us.


In her loving arms she caresses the emaci ated child ravaged by disease, drugs, abortion; in her mantle she wraps the abused child, victimized by physical, men tal, and sexual terror; in her love she re sponds to the hungry child anguished by malnutrition, dehydration, neglect; in her presence she contains the abandoned child clutching Mother Earth for security and comfort; in her concern she covers the naked child shamed by rejection, exploita tion, abandonment.


The Madonna is the source of HOPE for all. Her “halo” reflects the Dawn….the Rising Sun, Christ Jesus, who graces our suffering humanity and calls us to wholeness, justice, and peace.

This Madonna of Our Lady was created during the Church’s Marian Year, 1994. The medium is chalk. I was working at the Siena Francis Homeless Shelter where I witnessed suffering of many women and children. I chose to create a darker skinned Madonna because at that time the majority of pictures of Our Lady were Caucasian.  My inspiration and models were the women and children who were living at the shelter. This Madonna embraces her Christ Child suffering in all humanity and mothers the wounded child in each of us.  She embraces the emaciated and aborted child, the abused, (left to right) hungry, neglected, abandoned, and the naked child. She is our source of HOPE as her “halo” reflects the Dawn, the Rising Sun, Christ Jesus who calls us to Justice and Peace.

It is relevant today as we  have a heightened awareness of discrimination and systemic racism still present in our society and it would be safe to say children continue to suffer globally. It is of utmost importance to be inclusive of all cultures and ethnic groups in all areas, including Religious Art. Mary, Our Madonna and Mother, continues to embrace her Christ Child suffering in our humanity in 2021.