The figure of the Nursing Madonna was adored in thirteenth century Italy and her popularity rapidly spread throughout medieval Europe.
Her history stretches back to the Near East, to Coptic Egypt and, indeed, as far back as the Pharaonic representation of Isis and Horus.
Much ink has been spilled on the historical development and the iconographical implications of the Nursing Madonna. There is a question of the appearance of this motif in Early Christian and Byzantine art, and its liturgical implications for the Byzantine rite. There is also the possibility that the motif originated spontaneously in Italy on impulse to return to nature. This talk will trace the history of this much beloved image from its first appearance in Egypt, through Coptic art into Syria and Palestine, and its importation into Italy from Palestine during the Crusades.