|Mary, Mother of God, appearing as Our Lady of Grace.|
In our discussion of holy figures who are barefoot, we begin with Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. Mary was not chosen first out of religious preference, but because among holy figures who are barefoot, she represents the most powerful presence among a majority of the world's people, as Catholicism is the largest single religious sect.
Also, Mary stands out among other Christian figures, since every other one we see portrayed in some art form seems to appear in sandals at some point, even Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ usually is almost barefoot in representational pictures of him; if he is not barefoot, he is wearing sandals. Sandals may have been the normal shoe in the Middle East during his time on Earth, but why then, would artists n the cold nations of Europe still portray him in sandals in countless paintings.
Sandals do, after all, embellish the appearance of the feet. The most important images of Jesus in the Christian world are of the barefoot, risen Christ. He rose triumphantly from the dead, but his wounds were still visible to all. Pictures of this image don’t show the wound in his side, despite its allegorical significance; it is covered by his tunic. We see his palm raised to give blessing, usually without the wound even though his hand was pierced, but the picture typically does show the wounds on his feet. Art is in the eye of the beholder, but it can be accepted that his feet remain to appear wounded in order for him to maintain the human connection between God and sinner.
Mary, as in the Mother of God, as which she is most widely known. In some Matriarchal contexts, she is the Mother God, the female incarnation of God or the Christian co-redeemer. In every case, she is always barefoot.
The holy mother Mary appears barefoot everywhere. No where do we ever find her shod, not in any picture or any statue.
When we see a statue of Our Lady of Grace, we see Mary standing barefoot on top of the world. As the birth-giver of Jesus, She is clearly a symbol of holy power. And Christian scriptures state that she is the only human being besides Jesus himself to be born without "original sin" and to be raised body AND soul to heaven when she departed this Earth.
As Mary stands barefoot upon the top of the world, her physical position already shouts of goddess-like stature without looking more closely. She is barefoot like all of the pagan goddesses known in Europe in pre-Christian times. And look more closely and see her holy stature is further emphasized by the fact that a poisonous snake lies bleeding beneath her bare feet*
Her indisputable power, holy and goddess-like is clearly demonstrated here. What ordinary human could step on a poisonous snake and kill it, even with shoes on? She is barefoot, and indisputably powerful that she could squash the snake without fear or hesitation in her ability to do so.
The image of Our Lady of Grace has clear, decisive meaning to Christians. The bible prophesized that a pure departure from evil, and a pure representative of good world come and be the gate through which redemption, and the representative redeemer would pass. The holy woman, Mother Mary is the Holy gate, and the redeemer, of course, is Jesus.
Perhaps the western world deemed being barefoot as too god-like for ordinary humans and sinners? Scholars could probably make an indefinite debate of this point. But what we know for sure is that holy figures, in the Christian world and in the realm of every other religion are almost always barefoot.
*The snake symbolizes evil in the bible as the serpent who tempted Adam and Eve. Pagan scholars debate that the snake may have been chosen as the symbol of evil to de-emphasize the snake's previously-revered status as a holy symbol in the pagan world before the coming of Christ. Regardless of one's stance on the holiness or un-holiness of the snake, it does not diminish Mary's position of holy power for the purpose of this image.