Oil paintings by Sr. Marie Pierre Semler, M.M. (1901 – 1993)

Our Lady of the Night – Original created in 1934


Our Lady stands in the night upon our world.  It is that night which brought in tangible form the dawn of our salvation.  In the cold, quiet, silence of the nights darkest hour Mary brought to us the Life that is our Light.  He rests, “The Ancient of Days”, in the cradle of her arm with one tiny hand raised in benediction between heaven and earth.  The light of the star mingles with the light radiating from the Infant Christ, and is guided within the folds of Mary’s mantle to shine upon the earth.

The natural light that floods our earth and casts a shadow that we call night, is but a figure of that supernatural light which is Christ, penetrating all things, and casting no shadow for it is in our darkness as penetrating all things, and casting no shadow for it is in our darkness as well as in our light.  It is He, the creator of light who mingles these two lights, who sent forth Epiphany’s star to proclaim His coming and by it drew kings into His presence from the far reaches on the earth.  It is He who in tender mercy created Mary, our Mother, and placed Himself in her hands that she might be a lamp to our feet as we journey through life’s night.  She who is filled with His light, wears a dark mantle; the mantle of the cross, the cross of humble everyday life, in poverty and service to others.  Through the shadowing of this mantle could be seen, only here and there, a bit of light from within as we see the stars in the painting glow dimly through its outer surface.  It is only when Mary draws aside her mantle and the hand of the “Light of the World” is raised in benediction that we may hehold something of the exalted glory in Mary’s hidden life.  It reaches  “from end to end mightily, and ordereth all things sweetly.” Wis. 8-1.

“She is the brightness of eternal light, and the unspotted mirror of God’s majesty, and the image of his goodness.” Wis. 7-26.

The Divine Shepherdess – Original created in 1938


She who carried in her arms the “Lamb of God” is called the Divine Shepherdess, because she was chosen by the Triune God to shepherd the divine. The Lamb who was “in the midst of the throne” came to earth, and placed Himself and His mother in the midst of shepherds.

John the voice in the wilderness, beheld Christ and said: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sins of the world. ” John 1:29.  When the Good Shepherd willed to be slain as a meek lamb for the sins of the world and assume the Mystical Body of which we are the members, His shepherdess became ours, and we became her flocks.  When He approached that last hour, dying a victim for the life of His sheep, the Divine Shepherdess stood beside Him and knew all the agony tht His love for His flock had brought upon Him.  And having there, at the throne of charity, been appointed by Him the mother of al, she rejoices to bring us into the fruitful meadows of her Son, that we may have life and have it more abundantly for it has pleased God that she dispense to His flock divine grace.  She promises us through wisdom: ” I will water abundantly the fruits of my meadow.” Ecc. 24:42.  In every way of life, in every part of the world, she guides them with the authority of the Shepherd for He has placed His staff in her hand, and He is the seal upon her heart, the seal upon her arm.  In the meditations of their hearts her grace may fall as gently and more imperceptibly than the snowfall upon the fleece, and the storms and thorns of life’s labours yield grace under her healing touch. “For in her is the beauty of life, and her bands are a healthful binding.” Ecc. 3:31.  “Come to her with all thy mind, and keep her ways with all thy power.” Ecc. 6:27. For “her ways are beautiful ways and all her paths are peaceable.” Prov. 3:17. She seeks the lost sheep who have wandered far, and in the evening of life are close to their last hour.  She would dispel the darkening shadows with light that springs forth contrite love. Of them the Good Shepherd was mindful through His prophet: ” If thy sins be as scarlet, they shall be made white as snow: and if they be red as crimson, they shall be white as wool.” Isa 1:18.

The radiance of a star in the heavens revealed to Wise Men His coming into the world.  They followed the light from far over the earth, and found the “Light of the World. with His mother, resting on a bit of straw in a manger.  He is the day star that must arise in our hearts and fill them with the light of charity.  He will lead us from the vales to the mountain top, to the throne of our Father, whose “mercies are new every morning.” La. 3:23.

Our Lady of the Snows – Original created in 1935


We liken the purity of Mary’s soul to the light-filled whiteness and beauty of snow as it comes down to us from the heavens with a freshness all unsullied.  She is the Snow Vestal, the Snow Virgin, the Snow Queen.  She is all this because her heart is immaculate.  In this painting she is also depicted as Our Lady of Advent.  The star on her breast tells of the unborn Light within her, for a star in the heavens will proclaiim  His coming.

Her snow crystal halo, the center of the cross-shadowed halo of Christ, vails the sun.  The sun is the symbol of the divine light that enlightens the minds of men.  Our gazing upon it must be veiled.  Man cannot gaze upon God and live.  He came to us veiled through Mary.  It is the sun that brings moisture to rise from the earth into the firmament from which snow falls, christals reflecting light under the warm rays of the sun, melt into cool refreshing water, symbolizing grace.  So Mary ,the Lady of the Snows was invisibly drawn  above all mankind, and when brought to light under the rays of the divine “Sun” the human and the divine melted into the grace-filled waters of eternal life.

The Archangel, Gabriel, in the Annunciation drew aside, as it were, the mantle concealing the whiteness of Mary’s soul which was concealed from human eyes as the snow is concealed in the shadows of night, and brought the joy of her pure light to rise among us.  Her purity brought God to be tabernacle within her, unseen and unknown among men.  Gabriel kneels with bowed head in adoration of the divine Presence.

The hem and sleeve of Our Lady of the Snow’s tunic bear a lily motif, the symbol of chastity.  It is significant of her corporeal purity, for the lily bulb is rooted in and grows out of the earth to be crowned with a flower that is chaste both in whiteness and design, beautifying its stem and root as Mary’s soul, conceived without sin lent beauty to her material form.

The crown of the Snow Queen rests upon snowy hair that bespeaks the purity of her sorrow, for purity reigned in her agony beneath the cross of her Son as it did in the joys of His advent.

“The most high hath sanctified his own tabernacle.”  Psa. 45-5

Mother of Light – Original created in 1936


The “Light of the World” with the sun for His halo, sleeps on HIs mother’s breast, and He, the creator of heaven and earth, holds fast to a fold of her tunic. She is truly His mother, and truly can we call her our Mother, for we receive from her hands divine life and light.

The sun radiating its light serves as His halo, because we have in the suns warming, strengthening and enlightening power upon the material world a figurative portrayal from the hand of God of the action of divine light in the supernatural order upon the weak, dormant and earth-bound souls of mandind.  The rising and setting sun forms the motif adorning the hem of His mother’s tunic, for she by her consent to be His mother, brought to us the dawn of our salvation, the beginning and end of all things, the resurrection unto life eternal.

Her light is that of Wisdom and Love.  The Wisdom that was the old law and divine Love which is the new law given us by her Son.  In these infinite vistas of light she walks above the luminaries of our heavens, for they are but one of the means by which our souls may be guided upward into the realm of divine light.

The heavens show forth the glory of God, and the firmament declareth the work of his hands.”  Psa. 18:2.

“Thy sun shall go down no more and thy moon shall not decrease; for the Lord shall be unto thee for an everlasting light.” Isa. 60, 20.

Mystical Rose – Original created in 1937


The red rose is a symbol of love and suffering.  The two are inseparable and they are held in the hand of God.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom. ” Ecc. 1:16. “The love of God is honorable wisdom.”Ecc. 1:14.  “To whom hath the discipline of wisdom been revealed and made manifest?  And whom has understood the multipliciy of her steps? ” Ecc. 1:7. We apply what is said of wisdom to her whom we call “Mystical Rose” whose ways are those of wisdom and love, and who was chosen to be the mother of her Creator.

“There is one most high Creator Almighty and a powerful king, and greatly to be feared, who sittith upon his throne, and is the God of dominion.  He created her in the Holy Ghost, and saw her, and numbered her, and measured her.  And he poured her out upon all his works, and upon all flesh according to his gift, and hath given her to them that love him.” Ecc. 1: 8, 10. She walks upon the golden path of union with God which is wisdom and love.

“Wait on God with patience: join thyself to God, and endure, that thy life may be increased in the latter end.” Ecc. 2:3.  For gold and silver are tried in the fire but acceptable men in the furnace of humiliating.”  Ecc 2:5. Out of this golden path and, as it were, out of the dawn, grows a mystic vine upon which blooms the mystic rose in triple design symbolizing and forming the halo of the woman who “cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array.” Cant, 6:9.

In the heart of the mystic rose design, and in the lining of her garment is the gold of unity.  Behind and around this center of gold, and in the delicate veil upon which rests her Creator, is the white of purity.  In the outer petals and in the inner garment is the rose color of joy. Scripture places upon her lps this description: “As the vine I have brought forth a pleasant odour; and my flowers are the fruit of honor and riches.  I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope.  In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue.” Ecc.2: 23,25.  “I took root in an honourable people, and in the portion of my God his inheritane, and my abode is in the full assembly of saints.” Ecc.24: 16. “From the beginning and before the world was I created, and unto the world to come I shall not cease to be, and in the holy dwelling place I have ministered before him.” Ecc. 24:14.  The mantle is of the blue green of rose leaves, which bespeake truth and hope. “Ye that fear the Lord, love him, and your hearts shall be enlightened.” Ecc. 2:10

“I was exalted like a palm tree in Cades, and as a rose plant in Jericho.: Ecc. 24:18.

Our Lady of the Mountains – Original created in 1938


 “With thee is the fountain of life, and in the light, we shall see light.” Psa. 35:10. “Thou hast visited the earth, and hast plentifully watered it; thou  hast many ways enriched it.” Psa. 64:10.

On the mountain of God, near the source of the fountain of living water, the light of the incarnation shines forth in Our Lady (symbolized by a five pointed star, befitting the five glorified wounds of her incarnate Son) and is reflected in the head of the mountain stream flowing from the mountain top down over the earth to refresh and renew life for all who thirst.  In their need all may come and drink as does the hart when it pants for the fountains of water.  “He that thirsteth let him come: and he that will, let him take the water of life freely.” Apoc. 22:17.

Our Lady of the Mountains who stands at the source of the spring is our Mother.  Her vision and her light penetrate the mists, and her heart overflows compassionate love.  She gave us the first intimation of this as she stood one day beside her Son, who is the Fountain of Life, at a wedding feast in Cana.  She brought to His hearing a temporal, human need of the bridal party, and in the fulfilling of that need, divine light was given and divine power revealed.  He changed water into wine, and in so doing has given, not only joy to the bride and groom but to us, something of a foreshadowing  of His own union with His Mystical Bride the Church, to which He looked forward with desire, saying on the eve of his Passion :”With desire have I desired to eat this pasch with you.” Luke 22:15.  Through one of His prophets He said: “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will hear.”. .  When the time came, and the crimson rivers flowed upon the earth at Calvary; the Mountain of Myrrh, Mary again stood beside the Fountain of Life, and there became our Mother, and as a true mother she enlightens all through the waters of Wisdom.  “I make doctrine to shine forth as the morning light and will declare it afar off.  I will penetrate to all the lower parts of the earth,…and I will enlighten all who hope in the Lord.”  Ecc.24:44,45.  Each day this wedding miracle is set before us at the Morning Sacrifice; from dawn to dusk around the world, flowing from generation to generation, water and wine are consecrated and become One.

The light of the star shines forth from Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart wherein lies her hidden glory.  The dark mantle represents the myrrh of life: the dying to self in her poverty, her suffering and her service to others.  There is only a slight trace of the joy that is hidden within, depicted in what we see of the rose colored lining.  The white tunic, and the star that rests upon her heart and is the basis of her halo, gives us a hint of her glory.