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Mary ascends the stairs to the temple, from a Mirror of Holiness (Mir’at al-quds) of Father Jerome Xavier

Mary ascends the stairs to the temple, from a Mirror of Holiness (Mir’at al-quds) of Father Jerome Xavier

1602–04

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Opaque watercolor, ink, color and gold on paper

Page: 26.2 x 15.5 cm (10 5/16 x 6 1/8 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 2005.145.9.a

Location

Did you know?

Mary’s instructor awaits her, book in hand, at the top of a temple of learning.

Description

In this scene from a noncanonical European source on the life of the Virgin Mary, her parents have brought their three-year-old daughter to the temple to be educated. According to the text it was tradition on such occasions for a priest to read a chapter from the Psalms as the child slowly progressed up each of the 15 steps. However, as soon as Mary placed her foot on the first step she pulled her hand away from her guide and quickly walked up the steep staircase without stopping or looking back. The figures around the temple gesture in surprise at her determination and eagerness to enter the service of God.

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