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Re: FEAST - Two Celebrations for Today (Jan. 1): Mary, the Mother of God; the Circumcision of Jesus


Gordon Plumb <[log in to unmask]>


medieval-religion - Scholarly discussions of medieval religious culture <[log in to unmask]>


Fri, 1 Jan 2016 05:35:50 -0500





text/plain (218 lines)

medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Image of Circumcision in stained glass roundel of c.1500 now in St 

Oswald Malpas in Cheshire:

Malpas, St Oswald, Cheshire, nV, 1c, Cologne area, c.1500:


and detail:


Gordon Plumb

-----Original Message-----

From: John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

To: MEDIEVAL-RELIGION <[log in to unmask]>

Sent: Fri, 1 Jan 2016 10:14

Subject: [M-R] FEAST - Two Celebrations for Today (Jan. 1): Mary, the 

Mother of God; the Circumcision of Jesus

medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and 


In the general Roman Calendar 1. January is the feast of Mary, the 

Mother of God.  Greek Orthodox churches celebrate the Synaxis of the 

Holy Theotokos on 26. December.  Neither date works as an anniversary 

of the adoption of Mary's designation as Theotokos ("Mother of God") by 

the Council of Ephesus (held in June and July 431); both bespeak rather 

a desire for a specifically Marian commemoration within the octave of 

the Nativity. Whereas this feast is attested from sixth-century Rome, 

for most of the western Middle Ages 1. January was principally the day 

of the Feast of the Circumcision, a fourth-century feast in the east 

that seems to have been adopted in Rome in the seventh or eighth 

century and that lasted on the general Roman Calendar from the latter's 

late sixteenth-century inception until its revision of 1969.  The 

circumcision of Jesus, mentioned only circumstantially in the revised 

Roman Martyrology's _laterculus_ for today's Solemnity of Mary the 

Mother of God, remains a focus for the feast of the Circumcision 

celebrated on this day in Byzantine-rite churches and, as that of the 

Naming and Circumcision of Jesus, in churches of the Anglican 

Communion.  According to Luke 2:21, a traditional reading on this 

feast, Jesus' circumcision on the octave of his birth was the occasion 

of his naming.  Re-titled and re-imagined as that of the Holy Name of 

Jesus, the feast so construed is celebrated on 1. January in yet other 

churches and on 3. January in the Roman Catholic Church.

Herewith some links to period-pertinent images of the Circumcision of 


a) as depicted in the late tenth- or very early eleventh-century 

so-called Menologion of Basil II (Città del Vaticano, BAV, cod. Vat. 

gr. 1613, p. 287):


b) as depicted by Nicholas of Verdun on an enameled plaque of his late 

twelfth-century altarpiece (ca. 1181) for the abbey of Klosterneuburg 

near Vienna:


c) as depicted in a number of mid-thirteenth- to late fifteenth-century 

illuminations in manuscripts now in French collections (images 



d) as depicted in a panel of the late thirteenth-century Life of Mary 

and Infancy of Jesus window (w. 6, panel 18) in the église 

Saint-Sulpice in Saint-Sulpice-de-Favières (Essonne):


e) as depicted in a late thirteenth-century copy of French origin of 

the _Legenda aurea_ (San Marino, CA, Huntington Library, ms. HM 3027, 

fol. 16r):


f) as depicted in the late thirteenth-century Livre d'images de Madame 

Marie (ca. 1285-1290; Paris, BnF, ms. Nouvelle acquisition française 

16251, fol. 23r):


g) as depicted in an initial on a detached leaf, from an early 

fourteenth-century antiphoner from Regensburg, in the Walters Art 

Gallery and Museum, Baltimore (Walters ms. W 754AV):


h) as depicted by the Master of the Tree of Life in a detail of his 

mid-fourteenth-century Tree of Life fresco (ca. 1347) in the basilica 

di Santa Maria Maggiore in Bergamo:


The painting in its entirety:


i) as depicted in the later fourteenth-century Breviary of Charles V 

(ca. 1364-1370; Paris, BnF, ms. Latin Latin 1052, fol. 36v):


j) as depicted in a later fourteenth-century copy (ca. 1370-1380) of 

part of Vincent of Beauvais' _Speculum historiale_ in its 

French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Paris, BnF, ms. Nouvelle 

acquisition française 15940, fol. 26v):


k) as depicted by Giovanni di Benedetto and workshop in a late 

fourteenth-century Franciscan missal of Milanese origin (ca. 1385-1390; 

Paris, BnF, ms. Latin 757, fol. 291v):


l) as depicted in the very late fourteenth- or earlier 

fifteenth-century Breviary of Martin of Aragon (Paris, BnF, ms. 

Rothschild 2529, fol. 141v):


m) as depicted in an earlier fifteenth-century copy of Guillaume de 

Deguileville's (or Degulleville's) _Pèlerinage de vie humaine_ and 

other writings (betw. 1426 and 1450; Paris, BnF, ms. Français 376, fol. 



n) as depicted (lowest register) in the earlier fifteenth-century Hours 

of Jean de Montauban (ca. 1430; Rennes, Bibliothèque de Rennes 

Metropole, ms. 1834, fol. 47r):


o) as depicted by the Masters of the Delft Grisailles in an inserted 

earlier fifteenth-century grisaille in a later fifteenth-century Hours 

of the BVM from Naples (ca. 1440; Den Haag, KB, ms. 135 E 23, fol. 53v):


p) as depicted by Beato Angelico in a mid-fifteenth-century panel 

painting (ca. 1451; from his Armadio degli Argenti) in the Museo 

nazionale di San Marco in Florence:


q) as depicted in a later fifteenth-century glass window panel (ca. 

1460-1470) from Köln in The Cloisters Collection of the Metropolitan 

Museum of Art, new York:


r) as depicted in a later fifteenth-century glass window (ca. 

1467-1469; w. 2) in the cathédrale Notre-Dame in Évreux:


s) as depicted by Michael Pacher in a panel painting on a wing of his 

later fifteenth-century St. Wolfgang Altarpiece (center completed, 

1479; wings completed, 1481) in the Wallfahrtskirche St. Wolfgang in 

Wolfgangsee (Land Salzburg):


t) as portrayed in polychromed wooden figures from a later 

fifteenth-century altarpiece from Brabant (ca. 1480) in the 

Bode-Museum, Berlin:


u) as depicted by the Elmelunde workshop in the late fifteenth-century 

paintings (ca. 1481) in Fanefjord Kirke, Fanefjord, Vordingborg 

Kommune, Sjælland:


v) as depicted by a follower of Willem Vrelant in an illuminated 

initial in a late fifteenth-century Hours of the BVM (ca. 1490; Den 

Haag, Museum Meermanno, ms. 10 F 1, fol. 98v):


w) as depicted by Hugues Le Coq (possibly from cartoons by Pierre 

Spicre) in a late fifteenth-century tapestry of the Life of the BVM (in 

five separate segments, of which the last is dated 1500) in the 

collégiale Notre-Dame in Beaune:


x) as portrayed by Jörg Ratgeb in an earlier sixteenth-century fresco 

(ca. 1514-1521; restored, 2009) in the cloister of the former Carmelite 

monastery in Frankfurt am Main:


y) as portrayed by Jean Soulas in an earlier sixteenth-century set of 

stone sculptures (1521-1535) on the choir screen of the basilique 

cathédrale Notre-Dame in Chartres:


z) as portrayed in polychromed wooden figures on an earlier 

sixteenth-century altarpiece from Antwerp (ca. 1535) showing scenes 

 from the Life of the Virgin and the Infancy of Christ, now in the Museo 

Civico d'Arte Antica (Palazzo Madama) in Turin:



John Dillon


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