Friday, August 14, 2009

Madonna della Cintola

Benozzo Gozzoli (b. ca. 1420, Firenze, d. 1497, Pistoia)
Madonna della Cintola
Tempera on panel, 133 x 165 cm
Pinacoteca, Vatican

There is a legend associated with the Assumption and the Apostle St Thomas. The legend has various forms.

One form of the legend relates that Mary ascended into heaven, in the sight of the apostles, Thomas was absent. Later Thomas came up to the Apostles, and, doubting the truth of what he was told, he asked that Mary`s tomb should be opened. It was opened and was found empty.

Then the Virgin threw down to him her girdle, that this tangible proof remaining in his hands might remove all doubts for ever from his mind. Hence in many pictures of the Assumption and Coronation of the Virgin, St. Thomas is seen below holding the sacred girdle in his hand

The theme was particularly popular in Italian, and particularly Tuscan, art during the 15th century, for since 1365 the Madonna's girdle had been venerated as a relic in the cathedral of Prato

The Madonna della Cintola was a favourite theme of the Franciscan order

The story is in The Golden Legend and the Transitus Mariae of Pseudo-Joseph of Arimathea