Saint Bellinus Celebrating Mass
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Taddeo Crivelli
Italian, Ferrara, about 1469
Tempera colors, gold leaf, and gold paint on parchment
4 1/4 x 3 1/8 in.

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In a simply framed miniature in this book of hours, Saint Bellinus, a little-known local saint, celebrates Mass before the kneeling Gualenghi-d'Este family. The saint, a twelfth-century bishop of Padua, clasps the outstretched arms of Andrea Gualengo while also gesturing toward heaven. Saints were believed to act as intermediaries between God and the faithful. Here Bellinus, long dead, appears before those who pray to him, bridging the gap between the twelfth and the fifteenth centuries and between this world and the next.

The patrons of this manuscript appear with two sons, probably from one of Orsina's previous marriages. Orsina was a member of the ruling Este family in Ferrara, and Andrea Gualengo came from a family of high-ranking advisors at the Este court and held important ambassadorial posts. Andrea and Orsina are attired in the richly decorated robes, tunics, capes, and gowns characteristic of Italian Renaissance courts. The intimate service takes place within the simple interior of a chapel, enriched only by the veined marble panels in the background and the coffered ceiling, standard details of the new Renaissance architectural style popular at the time.