Beuronese Murals - The Birth of Jesus

The Birth of JesusNativity

The basilica panel of "The Nativity of the Lord" is fairly traditional in its iconography. Four angels sing "Gloria in excelsis, and an ox and ass watch as Mary and Joseph adore their newborn son laying in a manger. The architecture of the stable is reduced to a few beams. In the apex of the roof is the star of Bethlehem, casting light on the Infant Jesus, whose hand is raised perhaps in blessing. All eyes - angelic, human, and animal - gaze with adoration on the Infant Jesus, who is surrounded by an aura of scalloped light (which, as in the rest of the basilica frescoes, indicates divinity).

The banderoles contain texts from the angelic hymns ("Gloria in excelsis Deo" and "Pax hominibus"). They are written upside down for the benefit of the singing angels. Mary is shown with hands clasped in prayer, Joseph with on hand raised in wonderment and the other holding his flowering staff. The ox and ass are details not present in the Lucan Gospel, but come from the apocryphal Pseudo-Matthew. The two animals call to mind the text from Isaiah (1:3): "The ox knows his master, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel does not know..."

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