Click on the pictures to see enlarged versions of the images.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Mary’s Girlhood

(Education of Mary by Anne, Her Mother,
from a 14th-century altar front with scenes
of the life of Mary)

(Saint Anne Teaches the Child Mary to
, from the breviary of John the
Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, 1371-1419,
kept in the British Library; note the stylus
Mary is using to follow the words in the text)

(Education of the Girl Mary by Georges de la Tour, 1593-1652,
French painter)

“In every literate society, learning to read is something of an initiation, a ritualized passage out of a state of dependency and rudimentary communication. The child learning to read is admitted into the communal memory by way of books, and thereby becomes acquainted with a common past which he or she renews, to a great or lesser degree, in every reading.” ~ Alberto Manguel, from his book A History of Reading

Beginning in medieval times, images of Anne’s teaching her daughter Mary, the future mother of Christ, to read was a popular theme of stained glass windows and altar pieces in churches, of paintings, and of illuminations on the pages of books of hours and breviaries.


Gone is a great while, and she
Dwelt young in Nazareth of Galilee.
Unto God’s will she brought devout respect
Profound simplicity of intellect.
And supreme patience. From her mother’s knee
Faithful and hopeful; wise in charity;
Strong in grave peace; in pity circumspect.

~ Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), English poet, painter, and illustrator

No comments: