Bernardo di Stefano Rosselli: Madonna della Cintola (1484)

(Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, USA)

A painting by the Italian artist Bernardo di Stefano Rosselli (active 1460- 1526). The painting shows a scene called 'Madonna della Cintola' or 'Madonna of the Girdle' which deals with a legend of saint Thomas the Apostle. According to the story was that saint Thomas was not present during the death of Mary (being on his way back from India) and did not see the Assumption to Heaven. The virgin Mary, aware of Thomas' sceptical nature, appeared to him personally and gave Thomas her girdle (the girdle to known as the Girdle of Thomas, Virgin's Girdle or the Holy Belt) as proof what he had just seen. The painting shows the legend in a tradition way: saint Thomas is kneeling next to an empty white tomb, the grave of Mary, in which is flowers are growing with the virgin mary floating above her tomb in a mandorla (a mandorla is an aurelo which signifies the role of Jesus and Mary in bridging the divine and human realms). Four angels are carrying Mary to the Heavens while is giving her belt to the kneeling saint Thomas, a seraph (the head with 6 red wings) is floating between Mary and the tomb. The two saint left and right are Saint Peter and saint Paul. Painting from 1484.