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FEAST - A Saint for the Day (March 19): St. Joseph, spouse of the BVM


John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>


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


Sat, 19 Mar 2016 21:54:28 +0000





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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Joseph's cult is said to have been established in Eastern Christianity in late antiquity.  In the originally tenth-century Synaxary of Constantinople his is the first commemoration under 26. December.  Other medieval synaxaries enter him under 25. December.  Joseph's feast certainly existed in the West in the eighth century, when it begins to appear in local martyrologies, e.g. that of Tallaght (ca. 790).  The first Western record of a church dedicated to Joseph comes from Bologna in 1129.  Joseph's earliest known Office comes from Liège in the thirteenth century.  His feast on this day was adopted by some orders in the fourteenth century; it entered the Roman Calendar in the later fifteenth century under Sixtus IV.

Some medieval images of Joseph, spouse of the BVM (a.k.a. Joseph the Carpenter, Joseph of Nazareth, Joseph the Foster Father of Jesus):

a) as depicted (just right of center, next to the BVM's throne; Adoration of the Magi) in one of the late sixth- or seventh-century full-page miniatures bound into a late tenth-century gospels in Armenian (ca. 989; Yerevan, Matenadaran, ms. 2374 [the Etchmiadzin Gospel]):


b) as depicted (detail of a Nativity scene) in an early eighth-century mosaic (ca. 705) from the Oratory of John VII in St. Peter's in Rome and now in the State Pushkin Museum of Visual Art, Moscow (photograph courtesy of Genevra Kornbluth):


c) as portrayed in relief (at far right; Adoration of the Magi) on the earlier eighth-century Altar of Duke Ratchis (betw. 737 and 744) in the Museo Cristiano del Duomo in Cividale: 


d) as depicted (two images) in an eleventh-century troper from Autun (Paris, BnF, ms. Arsenal, 1169):

1) Nativity scene (fol. 3v; upper register at right):


2) The Presentation in the Temple (fol. 11v; second from right):


e) as depicted (bottom register; third from left; Nativity scene) in the earlier eleventh-century mosaics (restored betw. 1953 and 1962) in the katholikon of the monastery of Hosios Loukas near Distomo in Phokis:


f) as depicted (at left; Nativity scene) in the late tenth- or early eleventh-century so-called Menologion of Basil II (Città del Vaticano, BAV, cod. Vat. graec. 1613, p. 271):


g) as depicted (his Second Dream) in an eleventh-century fresco in Ateni Sioni Church, Ateni (Shida Kartli province), Georgia:


h) as portrayed in relief (at right in panel at upper right; Nativity scene) on the later eleventh-century wooden doors (ca. 1060) in Köln's Basilika St. Maria im Kapitol:


i) as depicted (detail of a Nativity scene) in the late eleventh-century mosaics in the katholikon of the Daphni monastery in Chaidari (Attika regional authority):


j) as portrayed in high relief (at left; the Flight into Egypt) on an earlier twelfth-century capital (betw. 1125 and 1130) in the basilique Saint-Andoche in Saulieu (Côte d'Or):


k) as portrayed in high relief (at right; the Flight into Egypt) on an earlier to mid-twelfth-century capital (betw. 1125 and 1145) in the basilique cathédrale Saint-Lazare in Autun:


l) as portrayed in relief (at far right; detail of an Adoration of the Magi) on the earlier twelfth-century Transfiguration tympanum (ca. 1130-1135) in the église Notre-Dame-et-Sainte-Croix in La Charité-sur-Loire (Nièvre):


m) as portrayed in relief in the probably mid-twelfth-century sculptures of the west portal of the basilica abbaziale di San Silvestro I papa in Nonantola:

1) an angel (at left) appears to him (at right) in one of his dreams:


2) second from left, at the Presentation in the Temple:


n) as depicted (at lower left; Nativity scene) in the mid-twelfth-century mosaics of the chiesa di Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio (a.k.a. chiesa della Martorana) in Palermo:



o) as depicted in three panels of the mid-twelfth-century Infancy of Christ window (bay 50; ca. 1145-1155) in the basilique cathédrale Notre-Dame in Chartres (photographs courtesy of Gordon Plumb):

1) his Second Dream:


2) the Flight into Egypt:


3) the Return from Egypt:


p) as depicted three times in the mid- to slightly later twelfth-century mosaics in the Cappella Palatina in Palermo:

1) on the south wall of the sanctuary (his Second Dream; the Flight into Egypt):


Detail view (Flight into Egypt):


2) at right on the south arch of the crossing (part of the Presentation in the Temple):



q) as depicted (Nativity scene) in one of four panels of a full-page illumination in the late twelfth-century so-called Bible of Saint Bertin (ca. 1190-1200; Den Haag, KB, ms. 76 F 5, fol. 10v sc. 2A):


r) as portrayed in relief (at far right in the panel at left; Adoration of the Magi) in the late twelfth- or early thirteenth-century sculptures of the facade on the cattedrale di San Donnino in Fidenza:


Detail view (after cleaning):


s) as depicted (his Second Dream) by Toros Roslin in the later thirteenth-century Walters T'oros Roslin Gospels (a.k.a. Sebastia Gospels of 1262) from Armenian Cilicia (1262; Baltimore, Walters Art Museum, ms. W.539, fol. 17r):



t) as depicted (at right; the Marriage of Mary and Joseph) in a panel of the late thirteenth-century Life of Mary and Infancy of Jesus window (bay 6, panel 15) in the église Saint-Sulpice in Saint-Sulpice-de-Favières (Essonne):


u) as depicted (Nativity scene) in a late thirteenth-century copy of French origin of the _Legenda aurea_ (San Marino, CA, Huntington Library, ms. HM 3027, fol. 6v):


v) as depicted (Nativity scene) in the late thirteenth-century Livre d'images de Madame Marie (ca. 1285-1290; Paris, BnF, ms. Nouvelle acquisition française 16251, fol. 21r):


w) depicted (the Flight into Egypt) in an earlier fourteenth-century copy of Guiard des Moulins' _Bible historiale_ (betw. 1301 and 1326; Paris, BnF, ms. Français 152, fol. 379r):


x) as depicted in two images by Giotto di Bondone in his early fourteenth-century frescoes (1303-1305) in the Cappella dei Scrovegni (a.k.a. Arena Chapel) in Padua:

1) the Marriage of Mary and Joseph:


Detail view:


2) Nativity scene:


y) as depicted twice (his Second Dream; the Flight into Egypt) by Duccio di Buoninsegna in a front predella panel, from his dismembered early fourteenth-century Maestà altarpiece (betw. 1308 and 1311), in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo in Siena:


z) as depicted in three images in the earlier fourteenth-century mosaics (betw. 1315 and 1321) in the exonarthex of the Chora Church (Kariye Camii) in Istanbul:

1) registration for taxation:


Detail view:


2) Nativity scene, detail:



3) the Return from Egypt, detail:


aa) as depicted twice in an earlier fourteenth-century pictorial menologion from Thessaloniki (betw. 1322 and 1340; Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Gr. th. f. 1, fols. 2r, 2v):

1) at lower right (Nativity scene, detail):


2) at far left (the Presentation in the Temple):


bb) as depicted (Nativity scene, detail) in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (1330s) in the church of the Hodegetria in the Patriarchate of Peć at Peć in, depending on one's view of the matter, either the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija:


cc) as depicted (at right; Nativity scene) by Lorenzo Monaco in a predella panel of his earlier fifteenth-century altarpiece of the Coronation of the Virgin (1413 or 1414) in the Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence: 


dd) as depicted (second from right; Nativity scene) by Beato Angelico in a mid-fifteenth-century fresco (ca. 1440-1441) in one of the cells in the convento (now Museo nazionale) di San Marco, Florence: 


ee) as depicted (the Marriage of Mary and Joseph) in a later fifteenth-century copy of Vincent of Beauvais' _Speculum historiale_ in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (1463; Paris, BnF, ms. Français 50, fol. 195v):



John Dillon


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