ave mary coverI begin telling that I enjoyed reading this book very much. I was amused, surprised, interested and much more again. That is a non-fiction work that can also be catalogued like a religion book, but unfortunately or luckily, it contains a dash of female protest, rather a critique that today we would call “feminism”. Then, this feminist book, titled Ave Mary,
was written by Italian writer Michela Murgia. I just read the Italian version of the book and I suppose the English version is not available in the bookstores, yet. Anyway, I wanted to review it, because the topic discussed is very original, current and burning, namely the role of women in the Catholic Church. I would like to say, inside every religion. But women have ever had a role in a religious community?
This is the question the author tries to answer. According to the author, the religious role of women was literally invented by the Church. Maybe to create a matching female genre to compare to the big and powerful male genre in which God was identified. But God is only a pure spiritual being who can be both male and female. Unfortunately, since the main folk opinion has considered God as a male being, the Church thought about how to create a related female figure. And behold that here it is also creating the subtitle of the book, namely,”Ave Mary and the Churh inventend a woman “. 

The original subtitle is in Italian, I tried to translate in order to make the work understandable for you. The woman invented by the Church has been just the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus. Without denying the importance and the spiritual role of the Virgin Mary in the history of the human salvation based on the plans of God, over the centuries, according to the author, the Virgin passed from the mother of Jesus to a real Goddess, as it is proved by the further names of this female figure: the queen of the Heaven, the queen or the comforter of the plagued, when, according to the Holy Bible and the Gospel, the unique comforter of the plagued is the Holy Spirit.

In short, from a simply mother, this anyway great woman became a Queen to be worshipped nearly more than Jesus and God. I must admit that the point of view of Michela Murgia is really shocking, as well as quirky and gripping. Moreover, thanks to a vibrant writing, the text of this book drags us into a world made of battles and persistent female suffering, where the role of the women was always the one as a wife and a mother and never as a protagonist like other men.

If from a side, the Virgin Mary served to forget the murky figure of Eve, the first sinner woman, the tempter who forced first man Adamo to eat the forbidden fruit, from another one, she was used by the Church nearly to impose a forced role where women have to only be mothers, wives or at least virgins and nuns, seen that the Virgin Mary, according to the religious dogma, always remained virgin in spite of giving birth a son.

Hence, the author writes that while men can always choose their role and what they want in life, the role of the woman is always confined inside the narrow border between to be a whore or a nun. But also men are husbands and fathers, but they were also regarded as politicians, doctors, philosophers, especially when the Church decided to start a sanctification procedure. Men can be holy also inside their job, women, instead, can be declared holy only as nuns or mothers.

To support and foster this opinion, the author brought several examples and quotes you should read in the book. At last, what remains about a woman is a sad comparison between Eve, the tempter, and the mother of Jesus, the Virgin. Is it maybe that someone, (some man) forgot women are also much more? The author lets us understand like this. Priests perhaps won’t like this book because they’ll consider it like a blasphemy, but what I can tell before finishing this review is that this book is extraordinary for its courage, for telling without shame and veils what millions of women would have desired to say over the centuries, but that they were prevented to express. Really great book, with a fluid and excellent writing. Absolutely to be read.

2 Replies to “Review of Ave Mary by Michela Murgia”

  1. John

    I never found any attention-grabbing review like yours.
    It is really a beautiful piece. Keep doing your excellent work, dear reviewer!

    • Rosalba Mancuso

      Thank you so much John.
      Your appreciation encourages me to continue writing book reviews that are interesting for readers.

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