The Woman Clothed with the Sun
Though she only shows up for one chapter and runs off almost as quickly as she came, the Woman Clothed with the Sun is definitely worth a look. Not to mention she's got some pretty sweet threads. Let's review:
• She is clothed with the sun. Obvs.
• The moon is under her feet. Nice footwear.
• On her head, she wears a crown of twelve stars (12:1). Kind of puts the others to shame, doesn't it?
Even by heavenly standards, this woman is pretty amazing. So who is she?
The Woman most likely represents the Christian church. After all, the church is often symbolized as a lovely lady or even a mother, so she can be the bride of Christ at the marriage banquet later.
The other tipoff is that she's pregnant and, when we meet her, she "crying out in birthpangs, in the agony of giving birth" (12:2). The church is going through some pretty tough stuff at the moment as well. They're trying to "birth Christ" into the world—and, as we know, it's not going so well at the moment. Especially since there's a giant, scary red Dragon hanging around.
After the Woman is introduced, we get our first view of the Dragon, and the two are set up as adversaries from the beginning. In fact, the Dragon is standing in front of the Woman waiting for her to finish giving birth so he can gobble up her child (12:4). We're guessing that isn't part of her birth plan.
The Woman is sort of a parallel to Eve from Genesis, while the Dragon is identified with the Serpent from the Garden of Eden. After the Woman gives birth and her child is whisked away to safety, the Dragon goes after her. First, she sprouts wings and flies away from him—convenient (12:14). Then, he tries to drown her in a flood, but the Earth does her a solid and swallows it up (12:16). This is one resilient lady. William Blake likes her so much, that he did a series of famous paintings featuring her along with the Dragon and the beasts of Revelation.
The Woman is solidly in the good column to the Dragon's evil. Like Eve before her, the Woman has to do battle with an evil serpent, except, this time, the lady comes out on top. Too bad Eve wasn't crafty enough to sprout wings while she was talking to that tricky serpent.
Unfortunately, the Woman doesn't actually get to do any sort of victory dance over the Dragon. She escapes through the help of outside forces and hides where the Dragon can't find her, but she isn't the one that delivers the final crushing blow to the Dragon. That one is left up to the angelic armies in Heaven.
Our Lady of Other Interpretations
Roman Catholics often see the Woman as a stand-in for the Virgin Mary. After all, she does give birth to a Christ-like child who is taken up into Heaven. It also fits in with Mary's title as "Queen of Heaven." That's about the end to the parallels, but it didn't stop Peter Paul Rubens (1620s) from doing an awesome painting of the Virgin Mary stomping on the head of the Dragon all while cradling a baby in her arms. Talk about a supermom.