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The Virgin and Child Enthroned within a Church
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This image is available for download, without charge, under the Getty's Open Content Program.

Unknown
Flemish, probably Ghent, about 1450 -1455
Tempera colors, gold leaf, and gold paint on parchment
7 5/8 x 5 1/2 in.
MS. 2, FOL. 243V

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The Virgin and Child sit enthroned inside a realistically rendered Gothic church. The anonymous illuminator reproduced the intricate details of the architecture but manipulated scale to convey symbolic meaning. Mary is proportionally huge, filling the interior space of the church. The miniature portrays not so much "Mary in a church" as "Mary as the Church." In the image, her lap corresponds to the altar where the celebrant presents the body of Christ in the form of the consecrated host during Communion. According to Catholic doctrine, bread and wine are transformed during the Mass into the body and blood of Christ. Just as the Church delivers Christ's body to the faithful at the Mass, so too the Virgin delivered his body to the world at his birth.