Tuesday, October 05, 2004

My First Regular Feature: Catholic Masterpieces

[Updated on 18 February 2009 to fix inactive image.]

Thanks to all who have browsed my blog so far. I thought a bit about something that would make my blog unique in a way. I found my inspiration in two Catholic periodicals: Magnificat and Latin Mass Magazine. Both feature great works of Catholic art. Therefore, I will regularly post about Catholic art.

This week's Catholic Masterpiece is the Wilton Diptych. This wonderful piece of devotional art dates from late in the 14th century A.D. It depicts King Richard II of England, who ruled from 1377 to 1399, kneeling in front of the Virgin Mary, who hold the Child Jesus in her arms. Our Lady is surrounded by angels. Accompanying King Richard is his patron saint, John the Baptist, and two of his predecessors. The first one on the left is King Edmund of East Anglia, who was martyred for his faith in the 9th century A.D. He is recognized as a saint of the Catholic church. The second king is Saint Edward the Confessor, who was ruler of England before the Norman invasion of 1066.

One aspect of this diyptch that I haven't seen mentioned in what I have read about it is the symbolism of the three British kings. From my point-of-view, this can be seen as symbolic of the Adoration of the Magi, who visited Our Lord shortly after His birth.

Before the English "Reformation," England was known by the title, "Our Lady's Dowry." The origin of this term as another name for England may come from as far back as the time of King-Saint Edward the Confessor. However, the term's origin may have come as late as the reign of King Richard II, who was shown offering the orb of England to the Blessed Virgin Mary in a lost altarpiece that was once in Rome. The inscription with the altarpiece read, "This is your dowry, O holy Virgin, wherefore O Mary, may your rule over it."

I feature the Wilton Diptych as my first Catholic Masterpiece because I visited England a month ago. I will post about this trip soon.


Blogger Julie said...

Hi Matthew,
It's Julie from Ave Maria???? I know of a Lady in Italy who can give great information on religious paintings, she does it for a living. Let me know if you'd like to get in contact with her. She is always sending out wonderful pictures and great explainations of them. Great Blog by the way, much more so than mine, which is just me talking about daily things.

7:51 PM  

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