medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
I sent Brenda Cook's note referring to St Albans from the discussion on representations of Januarius on to a friend who is a lay canon of St Albans with a great interest in its building - and thought his responses, from the point of view of one living daily with the fabric, might be of interest.
It's certainly a reminder to academics that identification may not always have been precise, even originally.  But I think I should press him on whether present-day guides still identify  the bearded Zacharias as the BVM! 
Best wishes, especially to Brenda,
Rosemary Hayes
----- Original Message -----
From: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">Timothy Beecroft
To: [log in to unmask] href="mailto:[log in to unmask]">'Rosemary Hayes-Milligan and Andrew Milligan'
Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2007 9:11 PM
Subject: RE: St Albans

Never mind the wall paintings (although they are rather marvellous but not “faded”  they were painted over after the dissolution and only uncovered – which took off the top layer of paint – in the late 19 century) this is what we do: [a report of a service with Desmond Tutu presiding]

What amuses me about our wall paintings is that, even though, as far as anyone can tell, the figures of Saints in particular were changed as and when someone who wanted a particular Saint depicted came along and got someone to paint over one attribute with another one, there are still people around today who will get very worked up about who or what a particular painting depicts.


The phrase “you pays your money (we were, after all , a Benedictine establishment) and you takes your choice” springs to mind.




From: "Ms B M Cook" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <
[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, September 23, 2007 3:37 PM
Subject: Re: [M-R] Januarius identification

> medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
> A book on
>> illuminated mss. by a very prominent scholar (whose
>> name escapes me, I'm not being discreet) identified
>> the Annunciation to Zachary (beard and all) as the
>> Annunciation to Mary!
> This is one of the VERY badly faded wall painting in St Alban's Abbey!
> It IS obvious when it is pointed out to you, but the false identification
> was a "given" for many generations of guides!
> NOT only bearded, but flat-chested and having a tunic slit up the sides in

> male fashion ....
> This mis-identification occurs in Eileen Roberts: The Wall-painting of St
> Albans Abbey. The Fraternity of the Friends, 1993. page 27.
> A genuine Annunciation to the BVM occurs on page 26.
> The two paintings are on adjacent columns.
> Of the 5 painted columns, each has a crucifixion on it and under each is a

> painting apparently depicting the BVM: 2 x virgin & child; 1 x [ 2 x]
> Annunciations and 1 x Coronation of the BVM. It is NOT really surprising
> that the 'odd' picture was misinterpreted until very recently..
> Brenda M C.

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