Fr H, with an interesting observation. I, too, am confused by people who refer to Our Lady as the Madonna, which means 'the My Lady', but perhaps Father is right.
From Fr Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment
Isis had, as one of her Names, polyonumos (there ought to be a special term for words which help to validate themselves), and it occurs to me that manynamed appears to be true also of our blessed Lady, the Theotokos ... and I'm not just thinking of the Akathist Hymn or the Litany of Loreto.
I recall, a few decades ago, we put a statue of our Lady up in Lancing College Chapel. Somehow or other, somebody contrived that a little plaque was set into the side of the plinth explaining that This statue of the Madonna was given by etc..
I know Italians do refer to the Mother of God as La Madonna, but am I alone in finding the English phrase with the definite article a little odd?
My theory is that the usage carries a subliminal message of "This object is to be seen as merely an expression of a convention within Art History. On no account should you jump to the the conclusion that you should or might or could have a relationship with the person to whom this artefact relates."
Some readers will recall the Great Chesterton Compromise.
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