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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mary

Diptych Pendant
Interior (above)
Exterior: Annunciation (centre, left); Nativity (centre, right)
Maker unknown
Northern Germany
About 1450-80
Partially guilded silver and translucent enamel
Victoria and Albert Museum, London



When closed, the pendant shows scenes of the Annunciation and of the Nativity. The inscriptions in Gothic script along the frame are prayers in Latin:

salue. regina
misercordie
dominus. meus
et deus meus
ave be[nedicte]. I[es]hu xpe [Christe]
natus. ex. maria. v[ir]gine
me . tibi . virgo . pia .
genet [r]ix co[m]me[n]do. maria


The English translation reads:

Hail, Queen
of Mercy
My Lord
and my God
Hail blessed Jesus Christ
born of the Virgin Mary
I commend me to thee
pious virgin and mother



St Bernard of Clairvaux In laudibus Virginis Matris, Homilia. II super "Missus est," 17; Migne, P. L., CLXXXIII, 70-b, c, d, 71-a. wrote:

"Mary . . . is interpreted to mean 'Star of the Sea.' This admirably befits the Virgin Mother. There is indeed a wonderful appropriateness in this comparison of her with a star, because as a star sends out its rays without harm to itself, so did the Virgin bring forth her Child without injury to her integrity. And as the ray does not diminish the rightness of the star, so neither did the Child born of her tarnish the beauty of Mary's virginity.

She is therefore that glorious star, which, as the prophet said, arose out of Jacob, whose ray enlightens the whole earth, whose splendor shines out for all to see in heaven and reaches even unto hell. . . She, I say, is that shining and brilliant star, so much needed, set in place above life's great and spacious sea, glittering with merits, all aglow with examples for our imitation. Oh, whosoever thou art that perceiveth thyself during this mortal existence to be rather drifting in treacherous waters, at the mercy of the winds and the waves, than walking on firm ground, turn not away thine eyes from the splendor of this guiding star, unless thou wish to be submerged by the storm!

When the storms to temptation burst upon thee, when thou seest thyself driven upon the rocks of tribulation, look at the star, call upon Mary. When buffeted by the billows of pride, or ambition, or hatred, or jealousy, look at the star, call upon Mary. Should anger, or avarice, or fleshly desire violently assail the frail vessel of thy soul, look at the star, call upon Mary. If troubled on account of the heinousness of thy sins, distressed at the filthy state of thy conscience, and terrified at the thought of the awful judgment to come, thou art beginning to sink into the bottomless gulf of sadness and to be swallowed in the abyss of despair, then think of Mary.

In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name leave thy lips, never suffer it to leave thy heart. And that thou mayest more surely obtain the assistance of her prayer, see that thou dost walk in her footsteps. With her for guide, thou shalt never go astray; whilst invoking her, thou shalt never lose heart; so long as she is in thy mind, thou shalt not be deceived; whilst she holds thy hand, thou canst not fall; under her protection, thou hast nothing to fear; if she walks before thee, thou shalt not grow weary; if she shows thee favor, thou shalt reach the goal."