Master of the Holy kinship: The Mass of Saint Gregory with saints and patron (1486)

(Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht, The Netherlands)

The Mass of Saint Gregory is a common theme in Catholic art. The scene deals with the legend that when Pope Saint Gregory I (540-506) was saying Mass, a woman who was present started to laugh during the Communion, doubting the doctrine of transubstantiation (she could not believe the bread was Christ, as she herself had baked it). Gregory prayed and asked for a sign from God to convince the woman and immediately Christ appeared as the 'Man of Sorrows' on the altar. The painting shows Pope saint Gregory with Christ as the man of sorrows before him. Christ is surrounded by the instruments of the passion (the so-called 'Arma Christi') and his tormentors (including Pontius Pilate who washes his hands) notice that a stream of blood from one of the wounds of Christ is pouring into the chalice - a reference to the transubstantiation. The rest of the group is (from left to right):

- Saint Potentinus, patron of Steinfeld
- a cardinal with the Papal tiara, the triple crown of the pope
- a deacon
- Pope Saint Gregory I
- a deacon
- a cardinal holding a staff with a double-Arm reliquary cross (called a Patriarchal cross)
- Reinier van Euskercken, abbot of the Premonstratensian monastery in Steinfeld, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. He is the one who commissioned this painting. The text from his mounth reads "ora pro fr(atr)e r(ei)n(er)o euskerche(n) q(ui) co(n)q(ui)s(iv)it de bo(n)is p(a)rochi(ali)b(us)" - 'pray for brother Reinier van Euskercken, who has brought many goods for the parish', with the year 1486 above his head.
- Saint Andrew, patron of the parish church in Steinfeld

Painting from 1486.


  1. Do you know name of artist for this amazing painting? Is is Jacob Cornelisz? Is it un-credited? Have been digging elsewhere and cannot find an attribution, either. Very curious. Thank you for sharing about the story behind this image (and others like it).

    1. hi, nice to hear that you like my blog! The name of the artist of this painting is "Master of the Holy Kinship". The exact name is unknown but he was a German artist who was active in Cologne in the period 1480-1518. He is named after an altarpiece which is now in the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne. All the artists with the name 'master of the...' are generic names for unidentified artists - they are linked to several paintings which experts have identified as being made by the same artist. Name-convention for all the art on my blog is 'artist name: name of the painting'


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