The Leaning Madonna

23 Apr

For much of the war, the town of Albert was a major focal point on the Western Front.  Smack dab in the heart of the Somme sector, the shattered city was an important landmark, staging area and transport hub for those moving around in the region.  Albert itself had a famous internal landmark, too — the Leaning Madonna.

As you can see in the picture above, a statue of the Virgin and Child dangles precariously off of the spire of the city’s church.  Dislodged by artillery fire early in the war, the Virgin seemed subsequently to have been caught eternally in the act of casting the infant Christ down to the earth rather than holding Him up in exultation.  As images go, I suppose, it’s a powerful one.

It was prophesied that, should the Madonna finally fall, the war would end. She never did, however, and it came as something of a surprise afterwards to discover that a work team from the Royal Corps of Engineers had clandestinely bolted her into place under cover of darkness. This may be illustrative of something, but I’m not sure precisely what.

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