N E W S

North Side - N03PP02

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Annunciation to the Shepherds, Herod and the Scribes, Adoration of the Magi

The three scenes are unevenly divided on the kalathos; the Adoration of the Magi takes up most space. Mary is enthroned in the north-west corner, where two arches, representing a building, are joined. The Christ Child in her lap raises his right hand in the gesture of blessing (Sedes sapientiae “seat of wisdom”). Behind Mary, on the west side of the capital, an angel is swinging a censer on a chain. Little of the head of the Child has survived, but his cruciform nimbus, beginning of his hair and one ear are still visible. The Star of Bethlehem, that shows the way to the three kings, appears above Mary’s head. One of the kings kneels before the Virgin and Child and proffers a vessel, whose lid he is about to take off. The second king stands behind him on the north-east corner of the capital. He points up to the star and turns backwards as if he were talking to the third king, in order to signal to him the light of Revelation. The face of this third king has not survived; but he alone is wearing a short tunic and raising his gift with his left hand. Three narrow palms frame these figures, while two broad leaves mark the background of the other scenes.
On the south-east corner Herod is enthroned. He has called to his presence the chief priests and scribes of the people. He lays his hand on a scroll, which one of the two scribes before him is about to unroll. The scene illustrates the question posed by Herod in Matthew’s Gospel about where the Christ was to be born: in Bethlehem in Judea, they tell him (Mt 2:4).
A vertical line divides this scene from that of the Annunciation to the Shepherds in the south-west corner. An angel stands before two of the shepherds, clad in animal skins and accompanied by their flocks, and shows them the way.