MS M.917/945, pp. 302–303

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St. Dorothy

The Netherlands, Utrecht
ca. 1440
7 1/2 x 5 1/8 inches (192 x 130 mm)

Purchased on the Belle da Costa Greene Fund with the assistance of the Fellows, 1963

MS M.917/945, pp. 302–303

The patron saint of gardeners, Dorothy wears a rose garland and carries, in addition to her martyr's palm, a basket of roses or fruit. On her way to be executed for her faith, Dorothy was asked by a pagan named Theophilus to send him some flowers and fruit from heaven. An angel brought him a basket with three apples and three roses, at which he converted and was subsequently martyred. The border is a vine-covered gold trellis surrounding the garden of Paradise at the bottom. In the garden, two angels sit playing instruments, a dulcimer and a portative organ. The castle-topped well in the middle is the source of two of paradise's rivers.


Suffrages are short prayers to individual saints. As protectors of medieval people, saints were their doctor in plague, their midwife at childbirth, their guardian when traveling, and their nurse during toothache. If the Virgin was the figure to whom one addressed the all-important petition for eternal salvation, it was from saints that one sought more basic or temporal kinds of help. While the Virgin became, as the Mother of God, almost a goddess herself, saints retained more of their humanity and thus their approachability.


Image courtesy of Faksimile Verlag Luzern