Acculturation: The Asian Mother Mary

The staple of every altar in the home of our Roman Catholic friends and family are Jesus, Mother Mary and St Joseph (if he was lucky to be a part of a Holy Family image or statue.  The poor man is often forgotten).

The most common portrayal of Mother Mary is of course that of her apparition in Fatima, Lourdes and the 15th Byzantine painting of Our Lady of Perpetual Succor.

I grew up with images of Mother Mary who had her flowing blonde (or light brown) hair covered with a white shawl as her blue eyes stared out of the picture frame. This were probably the images passed down by European missionaries who propagated the faith in this region.

Thus, I found it fascinatingly odd to see the mother of Christ adapt the culture, clothes and features of the communities in several Asian countries I visited.

Well, I shouldn’t be too surprised, my name is after all the Italian form of Mary which like her image also comes in different variations – Maryam, Miriam, Marie, etc.

But what is fascinating is the beautiful depiction of Our Lady in the elegant traditional costumes and clothes of the various communities.

Below are some of the images and statues I have had the privilege of viewing.

Some are on my altar today – confusing the daylights out of those who have a conservative and traditional view of religion 😂.


Javanese Mother Mary (Bought this at St Laurentius Church in Bandung, Java)
Thai Mother Mary (Bought this at the Assumption Cathedral in Bangkok)
A portrait of Mother Mary and at the St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Bali
Our lady of Nha Trang Vietnam
Our Lady of La Vang, near Danang in Vietnam wears an elegant Ao Dai (Pix from Wikipedia)
Cambodia MM
Cambodian Mary with the child Jesus @ St John’s Catholic Church, Siem Reap.
Mother Mary in a saree. Source:




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