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Book Reviews

Angelo Scola, Maria, la donna (The Woman Mary)

Angelo Scola, Maria, la donna (Mary the Woman. The Mysteries of Her Life), Cantagalli Editore, Siena 2009

This is a book for everyone, a book about someone everyone looks up to, Christians as well as Muslims, because of her place in human history. The new book by Card Angelo Scola, Patriarch of Venice, was years in the making and is for all those who, faced with the Virgin of Nazareth, will allow themselves to be provoked by the question caused by her full and complete humanity and the mysteries that dramatically touched her life.



If in the beginning we see the author’s desire to deepen his personal experience of putting his trust in Mary—something which has been with him since boyhood when he was taught to recite the Hail Mary on his knees and give himself over to her—, the well-searched and very charged chapters that follow cover one after the other, the days in the life of the woman of Nazareth, her words and actions. They provide an opportunity to reflect on the mysteries that touch her: the Immaculate Conception, her nativity, the Annunciation, Elisabeth’s visitation, the Holy Family, Our Lady of Sorrow, the Assumption, etc. This way we can broaden the sense and substance of woman’s genius in our reality and existence. Taking a page or two from John Paul II, Scola re-proposes two fundamental features of the “prophetic genius of the woman”, the primacy of love and the special trust God places in her for each human.


Citing Von Balthasar, Scola says the woman stands for others. If God is the Other par excellence, then she sets the pace and shows the path towards God. Here is the secret of the sexual difference, something no one can overcome.


In some way, the Patriarch’s belief that Mary and her story are still relevant in today’s world is something provocative that can tell something to the younger generations of the third millennium, a time characterised by very rapid and often painful transformations. Mary shows how decisively women can contribute through their genius based on freedom, simplicity and creativity.


For this reason, Mary of Nazareth is a point of reference that is still relevant, as irreplaceable today as it was in the past. From an actual personal and communal experience, this book tries to offer convincing evidence of that.


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