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Friday, April 26, 2013

The Virtue of Chastity

The statue, The Virtue of Chastity in Rome, Italy, is of a bare-breasted woman who holds an open rose in her left hand and in her right is grasped the horn of a unicorn.  This is the image of chastity.  The unicorn has its roots in Christianity.

Her breasts are the image of a woman breast-feeding-the nourishment representing the outpouring of her love.  The rose is a symbol of the feminine mystery and the unicorn horn a symbol of the masculine mystery.  Her outstretched hands represent her desire to bring the two mysteries together in creative harmony.

The unicorn seems intent on reaching the rose, but he must be guided by the fair maiden if he is to honor the rose and not violate it.  The rose is a symbol of the beauty of love, divine love.  Chastity allows us to discover the beauty of loves potency and strength.  The rose symbolizes the tenderness of love.  The maiden holds the rose gently as if to indicate the delicacy of chastity.  The horn symbolizes power and danger and must be held firmly.

If it is properly harnessed it can be the "horn of salvation," a source of healing.  This is an animal that demands respect: it can gore you or save your life depending on one's reverence for its power.  The maiden guides the unicorn's power rightly.

The maiden who has "captured the unicorn" evokes an image of Eros that is properly disciplined but nevertheless wild.  Wildness directed upwards launches one into infinity.  One then shares in the mystery of the fire of divine love.  Disciplining Eros is true freedom.  One is no longer a slave to their desires- one becomes a slave to God.  Chastity reveals God's mad love.

Reference~ Fill these Hearts by Christopher West