Anonymous portrait of Mary Ward, Osterhofen



The Painted Life is a series of fifty paintings which illustrate significant events in the life and faith journey of Mary Ward. These paintings are displayed at the Convent of the Congregation of Jesus in Augsburg, Germany, together with other artefacts owned and used by Mary Ward. These include a pair of shoes, which she wore on one of her journeys on foot across the Alps to speak with the Pope about her Institute. From Mary Ward’s own letters we know that two of the paintings – Image 24 and Image 29 were painted during her own lifetime; the rest, authorized by Winefrid Wigmore, Mary Poyntz and the other early companions, were painted in the second half of the 17th century. Experts consider the fifty paintings to be the work of at least five different painters. The Text of the narrative beside each painting is courtesy of Loreto Normanhurst, Australia.

Images of the Painted Life are courtesy of:
© Copyright by Geistliches Zentrum Maria Ward, Augsburg
Foto: Tanner, Nesselwang

The Text of the narrative beside each painting is courtesy of Loreto Normanhurst, Australia.


The Painted Life - Images 1 to 10

Click on images to enlarge


The first word that Mary Ward uttered was “Jesus”, after which she did not speak again for several months.





In her tenth year, Mary was urged by her parents to marry a young man by the name of Redshaw, who was distinguished both by his riches and his noble birth. She prayed fervently to God, imploring Him to prevent this marriage, if it were not to His glory and for the good of her soul. Her prayer was heard.



In her tenth year, Mary had such a serious fall that she lost the power of speech. She thought within herself: “Oh, how gladly would I die if only I could once say the saving Name of Jesus.” As she pronounced it, she became quite well again and her heart was filled with such sweetness and love of God, that to the end of her life she never forgot it.



In the year 1595, when Mary was in her eleventh year, on the feast of the Annunciation, a great fire broke out at her father's mansion at Mulwith. She was not alarmed, but remained in a room, saying the rosary with her sisters until their father came to fetch them.



When Mary was in her twelfth year, she was again urged by her parents to accept a very suitable offer of marriage, from a gentleman but the name of Shafto. She insisted on refusing this proposal, esteeming that God alone was worthy of her love.



When Mary was thirteen, the devil came to her under the appearance of Francis Carle, her father's manservant. He was on horseback and read out a letter to her, supposed to be from her father and containing strict orders that she was to put off first communion until she received further instructions.



In her thirteenth year, after overcoming many obstacles, Mary prepared with great zeal and devotion for her first communion, on which occasion she received much light and knowledge from God.




When Mary was in her thirteenth year, on account of the war threatening to break out, she was sent to stay with a relative. She was frequently urged to consent to a betrothal with a young gentleman named Eldrington, of distinguished birth and other eminent qualities. But her heart was so caught up in divine love that she could not consent to any earthly love. She was so afflicted at being pressed to marry that she fell dangerously ill and her father was obliged to fetch her home.



One day, when Mary was fifteen, she sat sewing with her cousin Barbara Babthorpe, while a devout workman, named Margaret Garrett, told them of the severe punishment inflicted on a religious whose conduct had given scandal. On hearing this story, Mary received so much light from God on the excellency of the religious life that she decided to embrace this state of perfection.


When Mary was sixteen and read the lives of the holy martyrs, she was seized with such a burning desire to follow their example that she felt only martyrdom itself could satisfy her longing, until our Saviour revealed to her interiorly that what He required of her was spiritual rather than bodily martyrdom.


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