Gertrude of Nivelles, Benedict and Annunciation
On the left we see Gertude of Nivelles (feast day 17 March). At the early age of six she chose the convent over a glorious marriage, and by the time she was twenty-one she became abbess. Rats are crawling along her staff an around her feet, symbolising the devil and the impure. People used to invoke Saint Gertrude during rat and mice plagues. Next to Gertrude is Benedict of Nursia, who founded the Benedictine Order in 529 AD (feast day 21 March). The Rule of Saint Benedict was a strict one - eight hours of work, eight hours of prayer and eight hours of sleep (Ora et Labora = pray and work) - yet it was practiced throughout Europe. Mary breast feeding the baby Jesus is the miniature belonging to the Annunciation of 25 March, which is the day Gabriel told Mary the good news that she was pregnant.