Admiring Mater Admirabilis at Sacred Heart Greenwich

Admiring Mater Admirabilis at Sacred Heart Greenwich

Every school of the Society of the Sacred Heart shares a unique connection to Our Blessed Mother Mary, who is also known as Mater Admirabilis. At Sacred Heart Greenwich, Mater Medals are physical reminders of this particular connection. In addition to the fresco that hangs in every Sacred Heart hallway, the sophomores at Sacred Heart received their Mater Medals Friday, October 13 after a special blessing and ceremony during the Mother-Daughter Liturgy. 

The original fresco of Mater Admirabilis at the Trinita in Rome. Katie McCabe ’18

Religious of the Sacred Heart Pauline Perdrau was a young French nun and talented artist who painted a fresco of Our Lady in 1843. At first, her Mother Superior, Josephine de Coriolis Coriolis, hesitated to commission her because she knew Sister Perdrau was unfamiliar with the techniques of fresco painting. However, Sister Perdrau prayed to Mary until she was granted permission to paint, according to sofie.org. 
At that time, the sisters thought the colors were too vivid, so they covered the fresco with a cloth. Over time, the paint dried and the vibrancy dampened, making the colors of the painting transform into beautiful muted shades of blue and pink for Mary. 
Sacred Heart students are encouraged to emulate Mater as she appears in Sister Perdrau’s fresco. Mater, whom Sister Pedrau portrays as a young woman, models studiousness, tranquility, reflection, and purpose.  Similarly, Sacred Heart students aim to focus on their studies while also exhibiting the compassion and contemplation which Mater Admirabilis represents in the painting. 
Sister Pedrau’s portrayal of Mater also resonates with Head of the Upper School Mrs. Jayne Collins, who was unfamiliar with Mater Admirabilis before joining the Sacred Heart community.
“When I first came to Sacred Heart I had not heard of Mater Admirabilis – I had heard of Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Sorrows, and many other titles given to Our Blessed Mother. I was so struck by the simple story of a young nun and her painting and her attempt which at first did not seem to be successful to create the fresco of Mary as a young girl – engaged in her world, yet reflective and radiating with love and joy,” Mrs. Collins said. “She is a model in all Sacred Heart schools now. She is a model of a woman of strength and faith, a woman of compassion and joy.”
Sacred Heart presents sophomores with necklaces that feature images of Mater, which are called Mater Medals. The sophomores receive the medals because the Mater painting depicts Mary at a similar age to their own. 
The Mater Medal depicts the image of Mater Admirabilis on the front and an image of the Christ the Redeemer Statue, located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on the back. Daisy Steinthal ’19

Juniors who have already received their Mater Medals feel the presence of Mary throughout their lives.
“In receiving my Mater Medal last year, I admired Mary for her role as a mother to all of us. Representing purity, knowledge, and love for God she is seen as the ultimate role model for me as a student of the Sacred Heart,” junior Hilary Hoover said. “My Mater Medal today is a symbol of Mary’s presence in my life offering me courage, hope, and strength in everything I do. It is a representation of not only the qualities of a Sacred Heart girl but what we strive to imitate in our lives beyond our years here at school.”  
-Morgan Smith, Staff Writer