Hours of Henry VIII
Illuminated by Jean Poyer
Gift of the Heineman Foundation, 1977
Lauds: Visitation (fol. 40v)
According to Luke (1:36–56), Gabriel also told the Virgin that her cousin Elizabeth, in her old age, also had conceived a son. Soon thereafter, to rejoice, Mary went to visit her cousin, who was six months pregnant with John the Baptist. (Elizabeth was barren until Gabriel appeared to Zacharias, her husband, telling him that his wife would bear him a son that he should name John.)
The burlet on Elizabeth's head, as well as the two purses hanging from her elaborate gold belt, give her an exotic appearance. The man standing behind the pair—his eyes half shut—is Joseph.
When the Virgin entered Elizabeth's house and greeted the infant John leaped in her womb and she was filled with the Holy Spirit. Here, however, as this scene is usually depicted, the meeting takes place outdoors; the Virgin extends her hand to Elizabeth, who folds her hands in prayerful recognition of the forthcoming Savior.