Should you pay a visit to Museo del Prado in Madrid, you would have the opportunity to see many masterpieces.
Amongst them, there is a more confidential oil painting that represents the statue of the Virgin Mary, carrying the child in her left arm, and squirting milk from her breast directly in the mouth of a priest kneeling in front of her.
This painting from Alonso Cano depicts depicts a vision - called the Miracle of Lactation - that Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153)experienced.
Mary appeared to Saint Bernard in a prayer : While reciting a prayer to the Virgin Mary, the Ave Maris Stella (Hail, Star of the Sea), Saint Bernard uttered the phrase written above the Virgin's head: "Monstra te esse matrem" (which can be translated in this way :"Show yourself to be a mother"). At this point, the statue came to life, pressed her breast, and squirted milk into Saint Bernard’s mouth to nourish and wet the lips of the Saint, dry from singing her praises. With this gesture she showed him that she is the 'mother of humanity' and that she is prepared to mediate for him with her son. These drops of milk are said to be representing the gift of life.
The picture also illustrates the idea that Bernard’s preaching and eloquence were “sweet as milk.” Saint Bernard of Clervaux was a reforming prelate, a theologian, author of numerous books, and an abbot who rejected both wealth and images (for his monks he would sanction only the crucifix. St Bernard of Clairvaux, great promoter of the cult of the Virgin, is an important religious and ecclesiastical figure of the twelfth century. He was one of the most influential members of the Cistercian order and in his painting, Alfonso Cano represents the saint in white Cistercian habit, one of his attributes. A second version describes how Bernard fell asleep during a prayer. Mary appeared and put her breast into his mouth in order to receive the wisdom of God.