Pentecost: A Beautiful Illumination

Illumination from Hours of the Usage of Rome, French School, 16th Century


Sometimes the heart just longs for beauty.
June’s cover of Magnificat Magazine took my breath away. That’s “Pentecost” an illumination from a book of Hours from the 16th Century, and this is what Pierre-Marie Dumont writes of it:

Shown at prayer, Mary intercedes for her “daughter” [the church] at the moment of her birth at Pentecost, just as she will constantly intercede for her to the end of time. Kneeling in the right foreground is Saint Peter, the first pope, wearing the mozetta in cloth of gold. Opposite him is Saint John, a handsome reddish-blond young man. In the middle ground, between Mary and Peter, stands Saint James. The first bishop of the Church, in the see of Jerusalem, he is recognizable by his ermine mozetta, symbol of the episcopacy. In a most stunning way, all are clad in white. For, at Pentecost, the Apostles underwent a kind of baptism. Like catechumens, they have cast off their old clothes to be robed anew in white. Through this divestiture and reclothing, the artist seeks to express a radical change in function and vocation; to receive this immaculate uniform is a royal, priestly and prophetic investiture. But further, the artist represents a gathering in the Upper Room where all are clothed in “dazzling white” (Luke 9:29) just as Christ at the Transfiguration…the miniaturist here offers us a vision of the glory of the Church, encapsulating at the same time both its divine origins as well as its fulfillment as the Body of Christ.


I love it.
And for me the Magnificat is invaluable.

About Elizabeth Scalia

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