Saint Librada Argentina
Popular devotion captures the scandal of the Cross, which mixes up boundaries between heaven and earth, male and female, and sacred and profane. This mixing up is exhibited in Saint Librada, who is popular in Argentina.
According to Marcella Althaus-Reid in Indecent Theology, “Santa Librada is worshipped as the female crucified Christ of the urban poor.” She is an ambiguous Christ/Mary: female like Mary but crucified like Christ. Often she is portrayed as blonde, as Jesus tends to be. Thus, Mary transgresses the site of the Cross — like a female Jesus — while Jesus becomes a transvestite, adopting the garb and look of Mary, for instance by wearing a shawl and necklace– in a “pattern of divine transvestism.”
As a boundary crosser, “Librada’s worship originated around legal and social transgression. An old traditional prayer asks her to deliver a person from the police because she is the protector of petty thieves and bandits, who are understood in Argentinian society as thieves by necessity, not choice.” Librada, like other Santos Bandidos (Bandit Saints), are heroes for assisting the poor to take risks for their own survival, for instance by small thievery. Thus, boundaries between virtue and vice are also blurred.
Saint Librada is not to be confused with Saint Liberata, aka Saint Wilgefortis – herself gender-transgressing. She is known as the bearded Saint. See: Paris Review: the Bearded Saint
See also: bearded woman
Yolanda Lopez, a Chicana artist, produced this tripartite series of portraits (in 1978): The Guadalupe Triptych. The woman, who is depicted as a runner, is the artist herself. The picture is called:Portrait of the Artist as the Virgin of Guadalupe.
“Essentially, she [the Virgin of Guadalupe] is beautiful, serene and passive. She has no emotional life or texture of her own” so Lopez commented…..”Because I feel living, breathing women also deserve respect and love lavished on Guadalupe, I have chosen to transform the image. Taking symbols of her power and virtue I have transferred them to portraits of women I know….As Chicanos we need to become aware of our own imagery and how it functions. We privately agonize and sometimes publicly speak out on the representation of us in the majority culture. But what about the portrayal of ourselves within our own culture? Who are our heroes, our role models?” “Yolanda M. López Works: 1975-1978,” San Diego, 1978.
Amalia Mesa-Bains gives this interpretation of the series: “López’s Guadalupes are mobile, hardworking, assertive, working-class images of the abuela [grandmother] as a strong, solid nurturer, mother as a family-supporting seamstress, and daughter as a contemporary artist and powerful runner.”
On Yolanda Lopez and Guadalupe Triptych
See also: The Guadalupe Series
Alice Guy, the first female film director, produced a film (silent) on the life of Jesus. Consisting of 25 painted tableaux (typical of passion plays), together with location scenes (which take place outdoors), La Vie du Jesus (1906) is distinctive for its portraits of women.
Guy highlights Mary Magdalene’s primary role as the first witness of the risen Christ (Matt 28:7; John 20:11-18). Whether or not her themes count as “feminist,” Guy seems to go out of her way to include women in every scene–for instance, instead of Simon of Cyrene, as the one who carries the cross of Jesus (Luke 23:26), six women do. Eight women find the empty tomb (Luke 24:1-5), while many women are present at the foot of the cross.
Here’s the film (which runs 33 minutes).
The Bible in Motion: A Handbook of the Bible and Its Reception in Film
edited by Rhonda Burnette-Bletsch, See contribution by Carol A. Hebron, re: Alice Guy and La Vie de Christ, ch. 32, pp. 545-547.
See article: Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013 | Posted by Film International, Alice Guy’s La Vie du Christ: A Feminist Vision of the Christ Tale; http://filmint.nu/?p=9219
Women Film Pioneers: https://wfpp.cdrs.columbia.edu/pioneer/ccp-alice-guy-blache/