Saturday, December 16, 2023

Mary, the First Tabernacle

Without a doubt, the page from our new book that garnered the most attention was this one. I've witnessed collective gasps, "wowwww," and exclamations of delight when people first spot the image of Mary as the First Tabernacle with little Baby Jesus in her womb.

Shari has told me that it was the first illustration cemented on her mind during her initial read-through of my manuscript. She was struck by the lines:

Mary was set apart and prepared to be the mother of the Messiah. She was pure and holy, filled with grace, and had a heart completely in tune with God’s will... What wonder and awe she must have felt to know that God’s promises were being fulfilled with her fiat, her yes. Imagine the nine months Mary waited like a living tabernacle with Jesus growing within her. Mary knew that hidden in her womb was the Light of the world.

I certainly am not the one who came up with this imagery. So along with a coloring page version of the illustration from our book, I thought I would share with you some wisdom from the Church and the Saints about Mary, the First Tabernacle:

  • In his 1976 address at the Eucharistic Congress, Fulton Sheen called her "Mary, the Tabernacle of the Lord." He said: The Word was made flesh and tabernacled within her. In a certain sense, it was Mary’s first Holy Communion, for she had within herself the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ.
  • Fulton Sheen also wrote: How to find Christmas peace in a world of unrest? You cannot find peace on the outside but you can find peace on the inside, but letting God do to your soul what Mary let Him do to your soul what Mary let Him do to her body, namely, let Christ be formed in you. As she cooked the meals in her Nazarene home, as she nursed her aged cousin, as she drew water at the well, as she prepared the meals of the village carpenter, as she kneaded the dough and swept the floor, she was conscious that Christ was in her, that she was a living Ciborium, a monstrance of the Divine Eucharist.
  • St. Gregory the Great said, Mary, you are the vessel and tabernacle containing all Mysteries.
  • St. Peter Julian Eymard wrote this beautiful reflection on St. Joseph adoring Jesus before his birth: Words cannot express the perfection of his adoration. If Saint John leaped in the womb at the approach of Mary, what feelings must have coursed through Joseph during those six months when he had at his side and under his very eyes the hidden God! If the father of Origen used to kiss his child during the night and adore the Holy Spirit living within Him, can we doubt that Joseph must often have adored Jesus hidden in the pure tabernacle of Mary? How fervent that adoration must have been: My Lord and my God, behold your servant! No one can describe the adoration of this noble soul. He saw nothing, yet he believed; his faith had to pierce the virginal veil of Mary. So likewise with you! Under the veil of the Sacred Species your faith must see our Lord. Ask St. Joseph for his Lively, constant faith.
  • St. Margaret Mary Alacoque said: Every time you visit the Church for the love of Christ, His heart draws us in an embrace of sheer delight. The tabernacle is like Mary’s womb wherein dwells the same Christ who reigns above, adored by angels, He who enters our bodies and souls.
  • And Pope St. John Paul II said: If we wish to discover in all its richness the profound relationship between the Church and the Eucharist, we cannot neglect Mary, Mother and model of the Church…Mary can guide us toward this most holy sacrament because she herself has a profound relationship with it.
  • This Vatican document includes a beautiful explanation of Mary as the New Ark of the Covenant: The Virgin Mary is the living shrine of the Word of God, the Ark of the New and Eternal Covenant. In fact, St. Luke’s account of the Annunciation of the angel to Mary nicely incorporates the images of the tent of meeting with God in Sinai and of the temple of Zion. Just as the cloud covered the people of God marching in the desert (cf. Nm 10:34; Dt 33:12; Ps 91:4) and just as the same cloud, as a sign of the divine mystery present in the midst of Israel, hovered over the Ark of the Covenant (cf. Ex 40:35), so now the shadow of the Most High envelops and penetrates the tabernacle of the New Covenant that is the womb of Mary (cf. Lk 1:35).

 Click here for the Mary, the First Tabernacle coloring page:

You may also like this Mary, Mother of the Eucharist Coloring Page and mini shrine:

You can read more about the Blessed Virgin Mary and her role during Advent in All about Advent & Christmas: Sharing the Seasons of Hope & Wonder with Children. These coloring pages were made in cooperation with Shari Van Vranken of Catholic Paper Goods using artwork from our new book!

You can find it at The St. Paul Center here or on Amazon here. It's also available as an ebook in both places if that's more your style! 

Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, pray for us!

And you can find all of the free resources linked in this post:


  1. I love it! But the link for the coloring picture doesn't work.

    1. So sorry, I didn't get a notification for this comment! It should open as a pdf now, and if anyone else is having trouble you can copy and paste this link into your browser: