Journalist's Quest at Heart of New Series

Local Rosie Goldsmith has lifelong fascination with Virgin Mary

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You can hear 'Thoroughly Modern Mary' on BBC Radio 4 from Monday June 7th to Friday June 11th every afternoon at 3.45pm.
Rosie Goldsmith, Presenter, with her collection of Virgin Marys
Rosie with some of the statues in her collection
Rosie with Anne WiddicombeRosie with Ann Widdecombe



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Rosie Goldsmith (Goldsmith Avenue resident, appropriately enough) has a life-long fascination for the Virgin Mary and has a sizeable, eclectic collection of her own statues, pictures and 'Mary memorabilia' of this hugely significant religious figure.

Rosie is a journalist specializing in arts and international affairs. Over 20 years’ working for the BBC she has travelled the world, covering events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall and the revolutions in eastern Europe, and also presenting flagship shows like Front Row and Crossing Continents.  Today Rosie combines broadcasting  with curating and chairing arts and literature events in Britain and abroad. 

On June 7th-11th Rosie is presenting a new series on BBC Radio 4. ‘Thoroughly Modern Mary’ is about the Virgin Mary in modern life: in religion, but also in politics, the arts, psychology, feminism and cyberspace. 

You may not believe in her but you cannot ignore her: Mary is the most important woman in the world, a cult figure in the Catholic Church who relates to the big questions in our lives, but also a pivotal figure in Islam. She is a symbol of faith, hope and charity; of beauty and motherhood, but also of superstition and propaganda.

Mary arouses both fervent devotion and deep scepticism. Millions still flock to worship her statues and shrines. Others see her as a tool for the suppression of women and of political nationalism. Or she's a figment of wild hallucinations. Her face is on T-shirts and jewellery.

Modern-day apparitions have been spotted in fruit bowls and pieces of toast and filmed on mobile phones. Thousands of websites are devoted to her on the internet. The series asks why the Virgin Mary is so important in today's world and whether this Modern Mary is a force for good or bad. With the world’s religions in turmoil – through war, scandal and drastic drops in numbers of believers - can Mary heal the divide and unite the faiths? 

The series is lively, thought-provoking and interwoven with personal anecdotes from Rosie herself, whose passion for Mary has taken her around the world.  Not Catholic or religious, Rosie is fascinated by her power and the hold she has over people.  

Her search for answers has led Rosie to talk to Richard Dawkins, Susie Orbach, Ann Widdecombe, Marina Warner, Miri Rubin and Oliver McTernan on why they believe in or reject Mary.  

An expert on 21st century CyberMary explains how the internet is today the most powerful weapon in whipping up Mary fervour. A pregnant Muslim student at Oxford enthuses about Mary’s mother role. At the Knock shrine in Ireland a woman tells Rosie about her vision of Our Lady and how, she says, Mary cured her as she was dying. At Easter in Seville we hear about the intense veneration of their Mary – the Macarena. And a group of children in Walsingham tell us simply that she’s the most beautiful woman in the world.

You can hear 'Thoroughly Modern Mary' on BBC Radio 4 from Monday June 7th to Friday June 11th every afternoon at 3.45pm.




May 25, 2010