Maritain on the Church, con.

“And it is the Church of here below, the Church in her state of earthly pilgrimage, which is thus represented. The woman who symbolizes her is crowned with thoms, in order to show that all through the ages and until the end of time she ‘completes’ (as to the application, not as to the merits) ‘that which is lacking in the sufferings of the Savior.’ And her eyes shed tears, — she is bathed in tears, — which indicates that the immaculate Bride takes upon her, in imitation of Christ, the offenses of her innumerable members, and does penance for them. Her head is the symbol of the highest authority in the Church of the earth, the authority of the Vicar of Christ, bishop of Rome, with, immediately below him, the world episcopate. Her feet are bare because she is poor, bloody because of the thorns in the midst of which she advances here on earth, vigorous nevertheless because God assists her and protects her on the way.”
Maritain sketched this “icon” as he calls it to express his account of the Church. “The author,” he says, “has endeavored to unite in a same image the two great symbols which St. Paul uses in speaking of the Church, that of mystical Body and that of Bride, and he has asked, in order to be able to present worthily this image, the help of his friend Jean Hugo. . . . [The] illustration which I would have desired in colors, and in which the woman with extended arms who represents the Church is surrounded completely with a great nimbus (which I imagine of gold) formed by the face of the Lord Jesus; which recalls to mind that of the human person of the Church Christ is the human — divine Head, caput supra omnem Ecclesiam, (St Jerome’s translation), as St. Paul says in the Epistle to the Ephesians (1.23), — He is the Head or the Leader of the Church, but ‘above her.’
from, On the Church of Christ, chap 5, The Church, Plenitude of Christ

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