Remember when I posted about whether or not the name Pearl is Marian? I said, “I couldn’t find any title/appellation referring to Our Lady that included “pearl” anywhere (if any of you can prove me wrong, I’d be beyond delighted!).”
I’ve been proven wrong! And I’m as beyond delighted as I could possibly be! A reader noted in a recent email to me, “I think pearls have been associated with the Virgin Mary — they’re used in art work of the Madonna to symbolize her purity” (thanks Laura!), so I looked it up and lo — she’s right!
“Pearls, Unicorns, and Lilies: Symbols of Feminine Purity in the Renaissance” discussed this explicitly, with lots of good sources:
“The pearl was imbued with many of its implications in the context of paintings of the Madonna. Through representations of the Virgin Mary pearls came to be associated with faith and chastity. The pearls used to adorn the Virgin were not necessarily the pearls one would see in everyday life. These were larger, perfectly round, and flawlessly white with a beautiful luster, while normal pearls may have irregular shapes and lack the Virgin pearls’ snow-white sheen. The perfection of the pearls served to mirror the Christian perfection of the Virgin Mary.
“Mary’s virginity is one of her most frequently discussed attributes. Her purity was highly contested, and supposedly confirmed by Pope Pius IX in a declaration of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception in 1854. Even Mary’s own conception was highly debated, in regards to whether she was immaculately conceived by Saint Anne and Saint Joachim. In short, Mary’s virginity and purity are her main attributes, and the items used to adorn her serve to further this message.”
Do you know what this means? If Pearl can be considered a Marian name, then Margaret can as well, since Margaret comes from margarita, the Latin word for pearl! That same post quoted above connects Mary and Margaret as well:
“In addition to the Virgin Mary, one saint in particular became associated with pearls. Saint Margaret—whose name is markedly similar to the Latin word for pearl,margarita—was known for her purity and chastity, as well as for being the saint invoked most frequently during childbirth … It is not a coincidence that the chaste saint is named for a pearl … Jacobus de Voragine described Saint Margaret as being “named after a highly refined white stone known as margarita, small and filled with virtues. Thus the blessed Margaret was white due to virginity”.“
I mean, I suppose it seems somewhat of a stretch to suggest Pearl and Margaret could be considered Marian names, but I don’t know … if the intention is there — the intention to name a little girl after Mary and focusing on her purity as represented by pearls, which is also translated as Margaret — it doesn’t really seem that much different from naming a little girl after Mary and focusing on her purity as represented by the name Virginia, or Lily, or Rose.
What do you all think? Do you agree that Pearl and Margaret/Marguerite/Margarita/Mairead can be considered Marian, in light of this info about pearls?