The Song of Songs of Solomon is an echo from the time before sexual love was relegated to the realm of the profane: which is why it has been so difficult for so many people to read it as a poem that is both sexual and spiritual.
As the Christian gospel spread throughout the surrounding Hellenic culture, it was blended with a dualism of body and spirit that was very uncharacteristic of Judaism. It was from Hellenism and gnosticism that Christianity picked up the notions that sexuality and spirituality are incompatible; that celibacy is more pleasing to God than marriage; that Jesus could not be both holy and sexual. But these were inversions of the earliest expressions of Christianity.
MATER CASTISSIMA MOTHER MOST CHASTE
Both symbols appear in the Song of Songs, "You are. . . my bride, an enclosed garden, a fountain sealed." (Canticle 4, 12).
- Hortus conclusus
- Fons signatus
The typical half-image of Mother and child form the crown of a tree which bears simultaneously, flowers and fruit. They are symbols of Mary's role as simultaneously virgin (flower) and mother (fruit).