The Nativity
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Willem Vrelant
Flemish, Bruges, early 1460s
Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment
10 1/16 x 6 13/16 in.

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Mary and Joseph along with four angels gather around the tiny baby Christ, who lies on a portion of the Virgin's robe. Details such as the presence of angels and Christ lying on the ground with rays of light shining from his body come from Saint Bridget's popular account of her vision of the Nativity from the 1300s. Saint Bridget further recounted that the light surrounding the baby completely outshone the candle Joseph had brought, as depicted in the image. From above, God and the dove of the Holy Spirit bless the event. A peaceful landscape featuring castles and delicate swans in the distance completes the scene. The Nativity accompanies the prayers for Prime of the Hours of the Virgin.