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

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