Not too sure about the throne and distaff, although I'd suspect the former
is a symbol of the Virgin as the Queen of Heaven and the latter is a symbols
of her humility, i.e., "the handmaid of the Lord" (Lk. 1:38).

The fellow with the axe is most certainly St. Joseph, the axe being a symbol
of his apparent profession as a carpenter (e.g., Mt. 13:55).  His act of
genuflecting would be interpreted presumably as an act of adoration or
reverence to the Mother of God and her Child.

I'm sorry that I couldn't be more specific, but I hope this is a start at

The Rev. Travis D. Stolz
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----- Original Message -----
From: Charles Giguere <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, December 12, 2000 7:58 AM
Subject: Holy Family?

> Would any learned list member be able to explain to me a painting I saw in
> St. Andrew's Cathedral in Victoria B.C. I was told that it was a Holy
> Family but it has some unusual features: in the centre is an imposing
> Virgin Mary, amply coiffed, seated on a large stone throne, and with a
> distaff in her hand. In front of her, to the left, is the Christ Child,
> about  4 years of age, carrying a crucifix; to the right is a man dressed
> in a short tunic, holding an axe; he seems to be on the point of
> genuflecting to her. Does this represent a legend that anyone has come
> Thanks in advance.
> Bernadette Filotas