UNBORN WORD of the day

Visitation and St. John the Baptist 15th and 17th Centuries, The Christian Museum, Esztergom, Hungary
December 17, 2012, 7:17 pm
Filed under: Advent, Incarnation, Mother of the Lord, Unborn Jesus


muzeum_berenyi christian Museum Estergom

The Christian Museum

Maria Heimsuchung

Visitation 15th Century

197_1 St. John the Baptis

St. John the Baptist (parts of a Deesis) 17th Century

This panel showing the meeting of Mary and Elizabeth was once in the village of Csegöld in Szatmár County in East Hungary. It was probably painted in the last years of the 15th century, tempera and gold on wood, and its style is close to the works created in Upper Hungary. In the company of a servant, the expectant Virgin visits her relative, Elizabeth, who is also with child. This is a frequently represented scene of the Virgin’s life, following the Annunciation. It is unusual, however, that the unborn babies are painted on the exterior of their mothers’ wombs. The Christ child turns with a blessing gesture towards the little Saint John the Baptist who is kneeling in adoration.

St. John the Baptist (parts of a Deesis) Moscow, late 17th c. tempera and silver on wood . The above painting is an example of one tradition of St. John the Baptist icons. In these icons the adult John the Baptist is  portrayed pointing to Christ Unborn. In his left hand he holds a chalice or charger and a scroll that reads, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world”.  With his right hand he points to the Christ Child (unborn).

“St. John the Baptist is the Lord’s immediate precursor or forerunner, sent to prepare his way. “Prophet of the Most High”, John surpasses all the prophets, of whom he is the last. He inaugurates the Gospel, already from his mother’s womb welcomes the coming of Christ, and rejoices in being “the friend of the bridegroom”, whom he points out as ‘the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, Article 3, 523.

“…when at her greeting, John (in the womb of Elizabeth and not yet born) was stirred with prophetic exaltation-as if even in his mother’s womb he were already crying out, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, behold the one who takes away the sins of the world’.” St. Leo the Great (A.D. 400?-461) Sermon 35

The Decree of Redemption by Konrad Witz, 15th Century, Gemäldegalerie Berlin Germany
December 16, 2012, 11:25 am
Filed under: Advent, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus



Gemäldegalerie Berlin Germany

Konrad Witz Trinity and Visitation



The Decree of Redemption by Konrad Witz (Click here to see enlarged copy of painting)

Richly ornamented with a gold background this painting shows us the Divine sphere. The invisible Mystery of the Trinity is made  visible. God the Father sits on a throne. The book is opened. The Holy Spirit is hovering as a dove. Our redemption is being pondered. The Lamb looks to Christ who is worshiping the Father. The Son is being sent. The key locks the circle. The key starts at the heart of the Father and points to the halo of the Son where it ends with a cross. The Divine decree is the Incarnation of God – the Son is being sent for the Redemption of the world. The Innocent (the Lamb) is to be sacrificed in order to bring the Divine love to humanity.

The Incarnation has already taken place in the womb. The right section of the painting shows Mary and Elizabeth as pregnant women, with John and Jesus in their wombs. Here sits the unborn Baby Jesus in the womb of Mary as on a throne and the unborn John kneels, folds his hands and adores the Redeemer. The Divine is in the world. The thoughtful look of both Women indicates the understanding each has of the Unborn Redeemer. Mary is the Virgin with flowing hair and an open ear, she has just heard the word of the Angel affirmed by Elizabeth. Her blue dress of heavenly fidelity speaks the Magnificat. The letters of this song of praise adorn the Mantle of her cloak embroidered in gold Letters. Elizabeth is the old and wise woman in the red dress. She looks with love into the transcendent distance at the Counsel of Redemption. The views of  both women draw the viewer, to involve them in the wonder of this Event.

“O King of nations, as I look back through the ages and see the Child and His Mother so clearly set forth in promise and prophecy, in type and example, when I think of Thy plans for the Redemption of the world, made from all eternity and gradually unfolding as the fullness of time approached, when I think of the nations all desiring Thy coming, when I think of the intense desire of Thy loving Heart, there is one thing that seems to jar and to be out of harmony with the rest, and that is the lamentable want of desire in my own heart ! The time is very short now, the Child with His Mother are already on the way to Bethlehem. Oh! Let me multiply my Acts of Desire that my little King when He comes may be indeed my ‘desired One’ too.”  Mother St. Paul, Ortus Christi, pp. 124.125.

Pregnant Virgin 1500 -1600, Cistercian convent, St.Marienstern Panschwitz-Kuckau Germany
December 15, 2012, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Advent, Mother of the Lord, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus



Cistercian convent, St.Marienstern

statue of Mary with Jesus in womb

Pregnant Virgin


Maria in der Hoffnung

Our Lady Expecting, Our Lady of Hope

Pregnant Virgin

In 1996, Medievalist, Markus Bauer visited the Cistercian convent, St. Marienstern, in Panschwitz-Kuckau — a small village with a population of 2400 and located in the Sachsen part of the Lausitz area in search of material for an historical exhibit. The historian found three sculptures of the Blessed Virgin Mary, each with an opening in the stomach, where the viewer could see a miniature carving of the unborn Christ Child.

Such sculptures were highly valued devotional objects in the 14th and 15th centuries. In the 19th century, this type of devotional image no longer spoke to the souls of the sisters in the same way, so they hung a cloth over the stomach opening, or they nailed the opening closed. Since the covering for one of these Marian figures was missing, it was put away in a remote cell, where it stayed to the present time.

“It would simply weary the reader to repeat almost word for word this description of our dearest Lord’s life in the Womb, changing the phrases to apply it to the Blessed Sacrament. The parallel is so complete, that it must already have suggested itself; and I have dwelt upon it at greater length, because, as the devotion to the life in the womb is especially a devotion of interior souls, so the corresponding thoughts with regard to the Blessed Sacrament are those which are most familiar to interior souls in their prayers before the tabernacle; and again as all the mysteries of the Sacred Infancy take their color and character from the life in the womb, to establish the analogy between it and the Blessed Sacrament is in truth to establish the analogy between the Blessed Sacrament and the Sacred Infancy altogether.”   The Blessed Sacrament, Fr. F. W. Faber

Visitation panel St. James Altarpiece 1430 National Gallery of Prague (Convent of St. Agnes of Bohemia) Prague Czech Republic
December 15, 2012, 10:03 am
Filed under: Advent, Incarnation, Mother of the Lord, Unborn Jesus



National Gallery of Prague  (Convent of St. Agnes of Bohemia)


St. James Altarpiece ( a few panels)

St. James Altarpiece Scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary and St. James the Great


Visitation panel St. James Altarpiece

An altarpiece is a picture or relief representing a religious subject and suspended in a frame behind the altar of a church. The altarpiece is often made up of two or more separate panels created using a technique known as panel painting. It is then called a diptych, triptych or polyptych for two, three, and multiple panels respectively.

“We can feel the rush of warmth and kindness, the sudden urgency of love that sent that girl hurrying over the hills. ‘Those days’ in which she rose on that impulse were the days in which Christ was being formed in her, the impulse was His impulse.” Caryll Houselander  The Reed of God

Heimsuchung von Maria und Elisabeth (the “Visitation”) 1460, Kremsmünster Abbey, Kremsmünster, Upper Austria
December 14, 2012, 12:22 am
Filed under: Advent, Mother of the Lord, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus



Kremsmünster Abbey


Heimsuchung von Maria und Elisabeth (Mary and Elisabeth Meeting)

In Christian art Mary’s pregnancy was broached not only in scenes with Jesus as an unborn child but also in pictures of the virgin mother by herself or in association with the Eucharist. Depending on how realistic or symbolic the picture was meant to be, her pregnancy was made evident as a rounded belly, by showing the figure of a child, or by having “IHS” marked on Mary’s stomach.

The original portrayal of this theme was the veneration with which, during her pregnancy, Elisabeth greeted Mary: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (Luke 1,42) This Bible text became widespread due to the “Ave Maria” (Hail Mary) which became part of the Advent liturgy in the 7th and 8th centuries and as of the 13th century had become one of the most important Christian prayers. In medieval times portrayals of Mary and Elisabeth meeting (the “Visitation”) became very common. From around the year 1300 the children were shown in front of their mothers’ bellies as can be seen in this painting from Kremsmünster (around 1460).

“John was ‘filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb’ by Christ himself, whom the Virgin Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit. Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth thus became a visit from God to his people.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, Article 8, 717.

Verkündigung Die Ungeborenen Jesus Artist: Friedrich Herlin 1462, Stadtmuseum Nördlingen Germany
December 13, 2012, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Advent, Mother of the Lord, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus



Stadtmuseum – Nördlingen,Germany


Flügel des Hochaltars aus St. Georg (Wing of the high altar of St. George) Full Altar wing


Verkündigung Die Ungeborenen Jesus (detail of Altar wing)

The wings of the high altar of St. George’s Church (1462) 1462 were a complex altarpiece created by Friedrich Herlin for the Church of St. George, where he acted not only as painter of the panels, but also as an entrepreneur who co-ordinated the other artisans and carpenters.  This Visitation detail show another common way unborn Jesus and John were recognized in Visitation paintings of this period. Light is emanating from the wombs of the two mothers.

When the Angel appeared to Zachariah – he made a number of predictions about John the Baptist before his conception. One was “He shall be filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother s womb” (Luke 1: 15) Here is what one writer says about the fulfillment of this Angelic pronouncement.

“Six months later, Elizabeth who had been waiting in solitude and silence for God to fulfil His designs, received a visit from the Mother of God, and the Precursor and the Messias Who was to come were brought into close contact. We cannot doubt that it was at that moment when, as Elizabeth said “the infant in my womb leaped for joy”, that John was “filled with the Holy Ghost”. Thus God cleansed His Precursor before his birth from the stain of original sin, again showing us that those who are to prepare for the Coming of His Son must be distinguished by their purity.” Mother St. Paul, Ortus Christi, p. 35.

Visitation on Cloth (Detail of Altar cloth) 1410, Museum of Applied Arts, Frankfort, Germany
December 12, 2012, 7:23 pm
Filed under: Advent, Incarnation, Mother of the Lord, Unborn Jesus


musee francfort Applied Art Frankfor

Museum of Applied Arts-Frankfort, Germany


Antependium, or altar cloth hanging of tapestry woven in colored wools (Full Tapestry)


Visitation – Detail from Frontal – German – wool, linen and silk

An antependium (Latin: “to hang before”), more commonly known as a hanging cloth, or, when speaking specifically of the hanging for the altar, an altar frontal (Latin: pallium altaris), is a decorative piece of material that can adorn a Christian altar, lectern, pulpit, or table. Specifically, an antependium hangs down in front of whatever it covers, and is to be distinguished from the altar linens which are used in the service of the Eucharist, and an altar cloth which covers the top of the altar.

“One of the most beautiful moments in history was that when pregnancy met pregnancy when child bearers became the first heralds of the King of Kings.” Archbishop Fulton Sheen, The World’s First Love.

“Now Elizabeth didn’t recognize what was in Mary’s womb as a “fetus.” No One less than God the Holy Spirit gave Elizabeth the gift to recognize that what was alive in her cousin’s womb, was already a person. And that person was her Lord (God).”  Charles Hoffman, The Holy Rosary Rich in Jewish Tradition