The grotto of miracles where statues pray to each other. Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin, Dubrovnik, Croatia. 2009

As a piece of visual communication, I find the iconography in the photo below, confusing.

 

 I mean to say, “what’s going on”?

A statue of what I presume to be Mary, or maybe it’s supposed to be a pilgrim, praying to Mary in a fake grotto where crutches have been left behind. Is the big statue (with it’s back to the viewer) meant as a way to communicate to the illiterate that they should pray in the direction the statue is facing?

If statues are supposed to represent some sort of Christian idea, rather that being idols, why are people encouraged to pray towards them? Most people I’ve seen praying in churches, tend to do so with their eyes closed, which would mean that they can’t see what they are praying towards. Perhaps the statues give the devout something to focus their thoughts on before they shut their eyes.

I’m guessing that the crutches have been left by people whose prayers have been answered. It would be interesting to see how many crutches would be collected if those who prayed, but didn’t receive blessing, had to leave their equipment behind as punishment for being unworthy of divine intervention. Which reminds me of the following exchange from the movie, “The Island”:

Lincoln Six-Echo (played by Ewan McGreggor): What’s “God”?
McCord (played by Steve Buscemi): Well, you know, when you want something really bad and you close your eyes and you wish for it? God’s the guy that ignores you.

To me the grotto is almost like one of those chain mails that circulate in our e-mails every now and again. Read the message, believe you will get something and then pass it on.

Oh, and by the way, the polyptych behind the altar is by Titian.