A friend of mine recently recounted her visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and of her captivating encounter with an medieval carving representing the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with her cousin Elizabeth.
It’s a fascinating article:
This sculpture represents a joyous encounter between two holy women, who are connected through their gestures. The Virgin Mary tenderly places her hand on the shoulder of her cousin Elizabeth, who raises her arm to her breast to declare, “Who am I, that the mother of the Lord should visit me?” (Luke 1:43). Soon after Mary learned of her miraculous conception of Jesus, she traveled to see Elizabeth, who was also expecting a child, the future John the Baptist. Carved in walnut, the figures are each inset with crystal-covered cavities, which may have originally held images of their infants. Created for a female audience, this is one of many splendid works of art from the Dominican convent of St. Katherinenthal. The original paint and gilding are almost completely preserved.
Albeit brief, the interviews are well worth the listen as well, regarding the symbolism in the carvings. “For the medieval audience, the two rock crystals are the most important element of the image.”
Christendom… it produced many beautiful things, many beautiful lives. It’s well worth a return.