Art that comforts
Vatican News

Vatican Museums: Come, let us worship #9

“The depiction of Jesus’ birth is itself a simple and joyful proclamation of the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God.” These words of Pope Francis recall how the birth of Jesus has inspired generations of artists throughout history to evangelize through beauty. Every week the Vatican Museums and Vatican News offer a masterpiece from the pontifical collections, which are accompanied with a reflection from the Popes.

Giovanni di Pietro, called Lo Spagna, Nativity and arrival of the Magi, 1507-1508, oil on wood, golden frame, Vatican Art Gallery © Musei Vaticani

Among the followers of Perugino, Giovanni di Pietro, called Lo Spagna (“The Spaniard”), produced this brightly colored altar painting and combined the traditional scenes surrounding the birth of Jesus on a naturalistic background inspired by the Umbrian countryside. In center stage lies the Child Jesus out in the open and not in a grotto, with Mary, Joseph, and three angels kneeling nearby in adoration. Two arrival scenes are depicted in the background, with an interesting play on perspective: the shepherds to one side and the Magi on the other along with their entourage. Even the bull and the donkey, which make an appearance in the scene, are distant from the Holy Family, while a choir of angels sing in the heavens to announce the birth of the Savior.

© Musei Vaticani
© Musei Vaticani

“It is not a palace which sees the birth of the Redeemer, destined to establish the eternal and universal Kingdom. He is born in a stable and, coming among us, he kindles in the world the fire of God’s love (cf. Lk 12:49). This fire shall never ever be quenched.”

(Pope St. John Paul II – Homily at Midnight Mass – 2000)

Under the direction of Paolo Ondarza
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03 January 2021, 09:00