Anonymous: The Fifteen Mysteries and the Virgin of the Rosary (1515-1520)

(Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA)

A painting by an unknown Dutch artist. This altarpiece is dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary, a title of Mary in relation to the rosary. A rosary is a string of knots or beads which is used for vocal and mental prayer in the Catholic church. Vocal prayer consists of several prayers such as 'the Apostles' Creed', ' The Our father Prayer', ' the Hail Mary prayer', 'the Glory Be prayer, the Fatima prayer etc. The mental prayer is dedicated to the so-called mysteries of the rosary. These 15 mysteries of the rosary are dedicated to the several episodes of the life of Mary and Christ and are divided into 5 joyful, 5 sorrowful and 5 glorious. Shown from left to right and top to bottom:

The 5 joyful mysteries:
- the annunciation
- the visitation (Mary meets her niece Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist)
- the birth of Christ
- the presentation of Christ in the temple
- the finding of Christ in the temple

The 5 sorrowful mysteries:
- the agony in the garden
- the flagellation of Christ
- the crowning with thorns of Christ
- the carrying of the cross
- the crucifixion of Christ

The 5 glorious mysteries:
- the resurrection of Christ
- the ascension of Christ
- the descent of the Holy Ghost
- the assumption of Mary,
- the coronation of Mary

At the bottom Our Lady of the Rosary is shown with a miracle of someone who was saved from death when he was praying to the Virgin of the Rosary. The background shows the Coudenberg Palace in Brussels, suggesting that the picture was commissioned by a member of the Habsburg court, possibly the lords of Ravensteyn. Painting from 1515-1520.

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