In this ancient window, Jesus is saying, “Hail, holy Mother!”
The medieval window at Fairford (in the UK) which depicts this scene is intriguing in the details it portrays, which seem to correspond to the description given by Ignatius Loyola in the Spiritual Exercises. Ludolf described Mary as seated at home when Jesus appeared to her, and rising at the sight of her son. Ignatius, in introducing the first contemplation of the Fourth Week of the Exercises, instructs the retreatant to envisage, ‘the house where our Lady was, studying it in detail, her room, the oratory, and the rest’. In the Fairford window, the forefront shows the risen Christ with his wounds and, traditionally, holding a tiny cross, to show that he had overcome it, with his hand raised to indicate he is speaking. Looking at him in wonder is his mother, an elderly, frail figure robed in traditional blue and joining her hands in awe. Behind her one can identify what appear to be the entrance to a bedroom with a glimpse of the bed, and a space which could be an oratory with a lectern and book facing the window.
What I find fascinating in the window is the scroll which comes from the mouth of the risen Christ containing the salutation, Salve, Sancta parens – ‘Hail, holy mother’. These words, which open the traditional Introit verse of the Common Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary, put beyond any possible doubt the fact that Jesus is here appearing to his mother, despite the silence on this in the gospels (and Ignatius tells us during the Fourth Week of the Exercises to use our common sense here).”