Posts Tagged ‘The Golden Legend’

Friday, March 25, 2011

Lady Day

Roundel, Annunciation to the Virgin

Above: Roundel, Annunciation to the Virgin, 1500–1510. South Netherlandish. Colorless glass, vitreous paint, and silver stain. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Cloisters Collection, 1972 (1972.245.1). See the Collection Database to learn more about this work of art.

March 25 has been a significant date—both religious and secular—throughout Western history. In the Julian calendar, today’s date marked the vernal equinox. In parts of the medieval West, it was used as the first day of the calendar year, although Roman traditions of celebrating the new year in January continued throughout the Middle Ages. (See last year’s post “The January Feast,” January 15, 2010.) Read more »

Friday, December 3, 2010

Major Barbara

Saint Barbara 50.159 Saint Barbara 37.52.1 Saint Barbara 55.166

Above, from left to right: Saint Barbara (detail), mid-15th century, French, Gift of Mr. Edward G. Sparrow, 1950 (50.159); Detail of Saint Barbara from The Virgin Mary and Five Standing Saints above Predella Panels, 1440–46, The Cloisters Collection, 1937 (37.52.1); Saint Barbara (detail), ca. 1490, German, The Cloisters Collection, 1955 (55.166).

Although Saint Barbara is not mentioned in early martyrologies, hagiographies place the early Christian virgin and martyr in the third century A.D. According to The Golden Legend, a popular collection of saints’ lives dating to the thirteenth century, she was martyred on the fifth of December, during the reign of Emperor Maximianus and under the orders of Martianus, the prefect of her city of Heliopolis, in Phoenicia. Veneration of Saint Barbara was common in both the eastern and western churches by the ninth century, and she remains a popular saint to this day, although her feast is widely celebrated on the fourth rather than the fifth of December. Read more »