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In a pair of articles published in 1951 in Orate Fratres, Jean Daniélou, S.J., demonstrated that the Fathers of the Church interpreted the Song of Songs as a prophecy of the sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation. This interpretation fostered continuity between the Jewish liturgy, which features the Song of Songs in the observance of Passover and Sabbath, on the one hand, and Christian ritual, which gives a place of honor to the sacraments of initiation in the Easter vigil, on the other. This article traces the application of the Song of Songs to the sacraments of initiation in early Christian writers such as Hippolytus and Ambrose and in medieval writers such as Paschasius Radbertus, Honorius Augustodunensis, and Alain de Lille. These writers linked Mary as “full of grace” to the sacraments of the Church, given as means for grace. The seal given in Baptism, the signaculum placed on the heart (Sg. 8:6), the sealed fountain of the Song (Sg. 4:12), and the “Seal of Holy Mary” became closely connected with each other. The article ends with examples of how depictions of the Immaculate Conception as “Tota pulchra” (Sg.4:7) in the modern period came to inspire catechetical visual art that intermingled the metaphors of the Song with the iconography of the sacraments.


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