MAN AT THE GATES OF HEAVEN - THE ROLE OF THE MOTHER OF GOD IN SALVATION. A STUDY BASED ON SONGS AND DOCUMENTS FOUND IN ST. MARY'S SANCTUARIES IN WIELKOPOLSKA (Polish title - below)
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(Title in Polish - 'Czlowiek u wrót nieba - rola Matki Bozej w zbawieniu. Studium oparte na piesniach i dokumentach z wielkopolskich sanktuariów maryjnych'). Texts of religious songs have not been analysed ethnologically yet. Despite a great number of them, in folklore and ethnographic literature they are not treated as documents, which allow to reconstruct the world of ideas about the 'heavenly court'. This articles attempts to analyse the perception of the Most Blessed Mother of God in the act of salvation. This study was made on the basis of religious songs, entries into memory books and inscriptions on votive offerings found in St. Mary's sanctuaries in Wielkopolska. The texts analysed by the authoress show Virgin Mary performing different functions - she saves, defends, protects, and reigns. Sometimes she acts together with Jesus, but most often she acts on her own. Excerpts from the songs reflect the 'heavenly hierarchy' in which the Mother of God takes the first place. Virgin Mary in the songs is not a submissive woman who, in obedience to God, raises God's Son but she is a resolute, strong, and merciful person, full of empathy for the human being. The analysis of the songs helps us to discover representations characteristic of folk religiosity and trace its transformations over time.
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