Marchigian School, Nativity and journey of the Magi, altar-step compartment, tempera and gilding on poplar, ca.1450, Vatican Art Gallery © Musei Vaticani
Several events are depicted in this scene: the preparation of a bath for the Christ Child, the Annunciation to the shepherds, and the Journey of the Magi. As in traditional nativity scenes, a young girl carries water in a jar, and an elderly lady holds a spindle. The tub for Jesus’ bath is in the form of a baptismal font. An angel announces the joyful news to shepherds, and shows the path to the Magi who are without crowns and who travel with their entourage from the three castles in the background. Legend holds that the three lived distant from one another and, guided by the star, met up only right before arriving at the place where the Child Jesus lay.
(Pope St. John XXIII – Christmas Homily, 1962)
Instagram: @vaticanmuseums @VaticanNews
Under the direction of Paolo Ondarza