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Saint Dorothea with a basket of roses

Detail from The Virgin Mary and Five Standing Saints above Predella Panels, 1440–1446. German; Made in Rhine Valley. The Cloisters Collection, 1937 (37.52.1-.6). See the Collection Database to learn more about this work of art.

St. Dorothea holds a basket of four stylized red roses, and the Christ Child proffers her a palm frond. Both plants are symbols of her martyrdom. Saint Dorothea, a virgin tortured and put to death under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, has been venerated since the seventh century. The legend of her martyrdom, which alludes to the apples, roses, and Bridegroom of the Song of Songs, was enlarged and elaborated over the centuries. Roses became the special attribute of the saint, who is a patron of gardeners, florists, and brides.

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