May 29th 2021

Workshop of Goossen van der Weyden The Visitation of the Virgin to Saint Elizabeth about 1516 Oil on oak, 80.5 × 70 cm Bequeathed by Mrs Joseph H. Green, 1880 NG1082

The scene is from the Gospel of Luke (Lk 1:39 -56)  Having heard the message of the angel, the Virgin Mary leaves Nazareth and goes “into the hill country, to a city of Judah.”   She hastens to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who is now in the sixth month of her pregnancy.  Elizabeth is dressed in contemporary clothing and even has a rosary on her waist. But Mary is draped in her customary blue.   It must be assumed that the city port in the distance below them is meant to be Nazareth and that the hill top city behind them is the “city of Judah”  where Elizabeth lived.   You can see the route Mary has travelled – all the way from somewhere along the distant river which reflects the evening sky.  If you go online you will see that stars are beginning to appear in the sky.  The two women are surrounded by a triangle of the verdant greens of grass and trees.  Green symbolised hope and so this growth is made to symbolise the new life hidden in their wombs.   The women greet each other with arms outstretched . But there is a reserve between them.  Elizabeth kneels before the younger Mary.  Her hand touches Mary’s swollen waist.  It is as if she is listening to the child’s heart beating.  Soon Mary will sing her song of praise, but not yet.  This is a moment of particular silence when the space between the two women is hushed in expectation.  


Edinburgh Catholic Chaplaincy

The Catholic Chaplaincy serves the students and staff of the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University and Queen Margaret University.

The Catholic Chaplaincy is also a parish of the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh (the Parish of St Albert the Great) and all Catholic students and staff are automatically members of this parish.

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