There’s a Very Direct, Very Colorful Line Between the Virgin Mary and the Police

Ladies and gentleman, start your angry e-mails!
There’s a Very Direct, Very Colorful Line Between the Virgin Mary and the Police

Discussing cops and Christianity in the same article? Am I stupid? What could my email inbox ever have done to me to deserve such an avalanche of fury and creative grammar? Before the doxxing commences, let me say that the interesting link here is based on a shared facet of the two that (at least I hope) won’t inspire a bumper-stickered truck to hang a right behind the back wheel of my car and send me spinning off the freeway at 80 miles per hour. 

All of which is to say, we’re about to embark upon a topic that’s never inspired any anger or violence in America: color.

Oh god, wait. Not like that. Not in a “of their skin but by the content of their character” way, but in a very literal, art school, paints-and-dyes way. The thread the two share that I want to look at is literal: the fact that both are iconically represented decked out in the color blue, and wondering why that is, along with a couple more famous figures and groups that have claimed that particular primary color as their pigment of choice.

Time to do a who’s who of a few famously blue-hued dudes.

Virgin Mary

Public Domain

Her drip was also immaculate.

If you find yourself staring at paintings of the Virgin Mary and her little messianic morsel in a museum, or church, or the basement of a religious-leaning psychopathic killer, you’re probably seeing a very consistent color palette. Mary is almost always wearing blue. Given that it’s not like we have pictures to go by, why? Well, choosing a color to work in back in those days’ wasn’t a matter of hrrmm-ing at a ProCreate palette or flitting fingers over Crayola offerings.

Certain colors were more expensive than others, with the color blue, frequently made of the gemstone lapiz lazuli, fetching a particularly pretty penny. Sort of like the saffron of the color spectrum. Because it wasn’t something anybody was daubing around with abandon, it became something reserved for only divine and noble figures. If you wanted to get painted in a blue fit, you needed to be somebody important, like, you know, the Mother of God. If you’re that kind of divine, you might just end up with your very own blue like Mary did, named, straightforwardly enough, Marian blue.



You can hear the overtime in this picture.

The boys in blue and their precious thin line are another group so linked to the color that it’s practically a synonym. If you’re an authority superfan, it’s the color you bleed, or slap over a Punisher logo in Canva. So when and why exactly did the police end up outfitted in that particular color? Well, much like actual police work, it’s something that there’s plenty of dramatic tales and embellishment about, when the reality is vastly less exciting.

One popular myth repeated even by some reputable sources is a play on color psychology. They say that the color blue has been shown to inspire feelings of peace and safety, all part of a great and careful psy-op. That sure sounds like a lot of thought went into it, except that the first police force, and their blue uniforms, were established in 1829, and I doubt they gave a plague-ridden rat’s ass what colors were connected to feelings. The big reason they chose blue: Most soldiers wore red and white, and the Rifle Brigade had claimed green jackets in 1800, so they picked blue to avoid confusion with the military. Confusion among the public, I mean, unlike the confusion experienced by many modern U.S. police officers, where they’ve convinced themselves that they are the military.

U.N. Blue Helmets

Public Domain

It also looks great on anybody.

Speaking of violence, let’s go the opposite way, to an organization that actually deserves the given nickname of “peacekeepers”: the United Nations. Ground forces deployed by the U.N. in the service of establishing peace during and after a conflict are known as “Blue Berets” or “Blue Helmets.” They’re deployed to conflict zones with the agreement of all parties in order to help a transition back to peacetime.

I won’t do you the dishonor of asking if you know why they’re called that. It takes only the most basic understanding of context clues to know that it’s because their helmets, berets and sometimes body armor are emblazoned with the U.N.’s trademark blue. That blue itself was chosen as the U.N. saw blue as the opposite of red, which they considered the color of war. Its use on uniforms extends beyond branding, though, as the trademark light blue also lets its wearers be easily identified, even from great range, as off-limits. Pull the trigger with a big ol’ blueberry in the center of your sniper scope, and buddy, you just earned yourself a big-time war crime.


Public Domain

Also makes him easy to pick out in illustrations.

Rocketing back to the religious world, there are some other figures that are represented in blue. Where the Virgin Mary is portrayed with it as symbolic outerwear, however, Hinduism has gods portrayed as blue from tip to tail even in their birthday suit. Specifically, the god Vishnu, one of Hinduism’s all-time head honchos, is portrayed with blue skin.

Though this might have some connection with the divine nature of blue that I covered in Mary’s paragraphs (Maragraphs?), it also has a direct bit of symbolism. His skin is often described as not just blue, but “sky blue”; this isn’t just colorful language, but a direct bit of meaning. It’s meant to represent his omnipotence, that he is as infinite as the blue sky, and according to some sources, the oceans. We now know that neither the sky nor the ocean are infinite, but hey, no need to repaint a bunch of temple walls about it. It looks nice!

The Blue Man Group

Galeria de Leo Pinheiro

(pipe sounds)

Because of the paint.

Eli Yudin is a stand-up comedian in Brooklyn. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @eliyudin and listen to his podcast, What A Time to Be Alive, about the five weirdest news stories of the week, on Apple PodcastsSpotify or wherever else you get your podcasts.

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