Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Merry Christmas

December 24th, 2014, Promulgated by Bernie

From the National Gallery, London


‘Mystic Nativity’
1500, Sandro Botticelli

(Click on the picture to view a larger version)

The ‘Mystic Nativity’ shows angels and men celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. The Virgin Mary kneels in adoration before her infant son, watched by the ox and the ass at the manger. Mary’s husband, Joseph, sleeps nearby. Shepherds and wise men have come to visit the new-born king. Angels in the heavens dance and sing hymns of praise. On earth they proclaim peace, joyfully embracing virtuous men while seven demons flee defeated to the underworld.

Botticelli’s picture has long been called the ‘Mystic Nativity’ because of its mysterious symbolism. It combines Christ’s birth as told in the New Testament with a vision of his Second Coming as promised in the Book of Revelation. The Second Coming – Christ’s return to earth – would herald the end of the world and the reconciliation of devout Christians with God.

The picture was painted a millennium and a half after the birth of Christ, when religious and political upheavals prompted prophetic warnings about the end of the world.

‘The Mystic Nativity’ was probably painted as a private devotional work for a Florentine patron.

From Wikipedia

The Greek inscription at the top translates as: “This picture, at the end of the year 1500, in the troubles of Italy, I Alessandro, in the half-time after the time, painted, according to the eleventh [chapter] of Saint John, in the second woe of the Apocalypse, during the release of the devil for three-and-a-half years; then he shall be bound in the twelfth [chapter] and we shall see [him buried] as in this picture”.¬†Botticelli believed himself to be living during the Tribulation, possibly due to the upheavals in Europe at the time, and was predicting Christ’s Millennium as stated in Biblical text.

It has been suggested that the painting may be connected with the influence of Savonarola, whose influence appears in a number of late paintings by Botticelli, though the contents of the image may have been specified by the person commissioning it. The painting uses the medieval convention of showing the Virgin Mary and infant Jesus larger both than other figures, and their surroundings; this was certainly done deliberately for effect, as earlier Botticellis use correct graphical perspective.


3 Responses to “Merry Christmas”

  1. Ben Anderson says:

    Merry Christmas, Bernie. Thank you for all of your excellent contributions to this site.

  2. christian says:

    Merry Christmas to Bernie and everyone! Thank you for informative posts Bernie.

  3. Dan Riley says:

    Merry Christmas and God Bless Bishop Salvatore Matano for allowing the 4pm Christmas Mass at the closed Holy Name of Jesus Parish in the Town of Greece. The church was packed and the parking lot was overflowing with cars.

    This parish should have never been closed and it should be reopened.

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