Visitation, the seven brothers and Margaret of Antioch - responses
On the left we see Mary carrying baby Christ. She is present in this miniature because of the Visitation, a feast day commemorating her meeting with her cousin Elisabeth. Both women were pregnant at the time: Mary with the baby Jesus and Elisabeth with John the Baptist. Since 1969, the feast day of the Visitation is celebrated on 31 May, but in Mary of Guelders’ time it would have taken place on 2 July. Next to Mary there are seven brothers: Januarius, Felix, Phillip, Silvanus, Alexander, Vitalis and Martialis. The illuminator was able to depict all seven of them by grouping their heads close together. The seven men died a martyr’s death on the same day – 10 July – which gave rise to the idea that they were brothers. It is unclear whether this is really the case, as they were buried in four different catacombs. On the right we see Margaret of Antioch, whose feast day is on 20 July. According to legend, Margaret was swallowed by a dragon, but managed to escape the beast’s belly unharmed by using her crosier. Because she came out of the dragon’s belly unscathed and without pain, she is the patron saint of pregnant women. This is the saint that Mary of Guelders would have prayed to in order to conceive a child, but despite being married twice she remained childless.