Another piece in the belongings of my late grandmother may she rest in peace.
This particular piece is a very beautiful piece in my opinion. This is a part of 7 pieces in total.
Can anyone tell me what is depicted here?
The picture depicts the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Disciples of Jesus and Mary on the day of Pentecost.
The events of Acts Chapter 2 are set against the backdrop of the celebration of Pentecost in Jerusalem. There are several major features to the Pentecost narrative presented in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. The author begins the narrative by noting that the disciples of Jesus "were all together in one place" on the "day of Pentecost" (ημέρα της Πεντηκοστής). The verb used in Acts 2:1 to indicate the arrival of the day of Pentecost carries a connotation of fulfillment.
There is a "mighty rushing wind" (wind is a common symbol for the Holy Spirit) and "tongues as of fire" appear. The gathered disciples were "filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance". Some scholars have interpreted the passage as a reference to the multitude of languages spoken by the gathered disciples, while others have taken the reference to "tongues" (γλώσσαι) to signify ecstatic speech. In Christian tradition, this event represents fulfillment of the promise that Christ will baptize his followers with the Holy Spirit. (Out of the four New Testament gospels, the distinction between baptism by water and the baptism by Christ with "Holy Spirit and fire" is only found in Matthew and Luke.) - Pentecost
But that is not all:
Domine, labe mea aperies,
Et os mea annuniavit laudem tuam
These words in the picture are the first words that the Church pronounces each morning at Matins as part of her Divine Office.
Lord open my lips
That my mouth shall proclaim your glory (praises). (Psalm 50:7)
It is in fact the mystery of the Birth of the Church and her praises to her Creator.
This is a (very typical) depiction of Pentecost.
Acts 1:12-14; 2:1-4 (DRB) Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount that is called Olivet, which is nigh Jerusalem, within a sabbath day's journey. 13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James of Alpheus, and Simon Zelotes, and Jude the brother of James. 14 All these were persevering with one mind in prayer with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. ... And when the days of the Pentecost were accomplished, they were all together in one place: 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them: 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak.
The artist most probably comes from Eastern Orthodox Churches as he/she depicted Mary as Queen of the Apostles and a Teacher. The Eastern Orthodox hold the views that Mary had teach the Apostles for some time before they go out to preach the Gospel.
The painting is rich and it would be an injustice to the artist if we missed the finer details of his artwork depicting the acknowledged role & character of Mary and the Apostles plus symbols portrayed in the art.
Biblical background to appreciate the painting is written in the Gospel of John when Jesus promised the Apostles to send the Holy Spirit. The sending of the Holy Spirit is the First Act of Mediation of Jesus to asked the Father to pour out the "Gifts of the Holy Spirit" to all the Apostles & Disciples to Anoint them in their mission.
The artwork is priceless for me as the artist presented the following:
She presented Mary wearing a royal robe signifying Queenship and the inner lining is gold signifying purity. Mary is Mother Most Pure and House of Gold relating to the Ark of Covenant.
The Artist also showed the Church Title to Mary as the Seat of Wisdom, showing the Word of God on Her lap. Mary's face was serene, hands clasped in prayer but Her eyes is open looking at the Apostles whose eyes are also upon Her. The other scriptures on the floor signifies Mary was teaching the Apostles about the Word of God. Since they are invoking the "Sevenfold Gifts of the Holy Spirit"*, Mary might have teach them Proverbs8:22, *and the Apostles perhaps asked Mary who is Wisdom?**
*The Apostles in the right side of Mary is St.Peter and he was sitting in the Chair like Mary signifying Leadership and Authority. Take a look at the garments of Peter, gold inside means means purity but a Pope is addressed as "Your/His Holiness".The picture depicted that holiness can be acquired easily if one welcome Mary as Her Mother like St.John.St.Peter had a share of wearing a Royal Robe because Jesus Christ the King of Kings appointed Peter to be the Head of His Church plus notice the color royal blue on some parts of Peter garments same with Mary affirming a share in Authority of God's Kingdom.As bible said "whatever Peter bind on earth is also bound in Heaven."(Matthew16:18-19)
4.The Apostles kneeling infront of Mary was St.John the beloved, notice he was contrite and clothe with the garment of purity. Also, look at the scriptures it was gold colored same with St.John clothing meaning only those who have a pure heart can see God or understand the mysteries of the Word of God. Among the Apostles St.John Gospel is mystical and his language are supernatural, thanks to Mary teaching St.John the virtue of humility and purity plus a contrite heart.In addition, have you noticed the white garment on the shoulder of St.John is white signifying "holiness", that's why only the Blessed Virgin Mary and St.John face was holy all the rest of the Apostles face was still earthly.
The Apostle whispering to St.Peter ear most probably is St.James the Greater the one whom Mary made Her first apparition in the year 40AD in Spain. St.Peter, St.James the Greater and St.John are the three Apostles known as the inner cirlce of Jesus and they are also the three Apostles who witness the Transfiguration.
The Apostle kneeling in prayer with hands clasped is probably St.James the lesser the known Intercessor among the twelve Apostles who did not travel to preach the Gospel but stayed in the Temple of Jerusalem praying for the success of the Apostles Mission.
The remaining three Apostles in the artwork who are looking to Mary would be a wild guess probably the one whose hands are both raise is the Doubting Thomas and the other two at his back I have no idea.Maybe Matthew and Jude.
The artist presented the role & character of Mary and the three prominent Apostles namely St.Peter, St.James the Greater and St.John the beloved. But the most important revelation of this artwork is when the artist depicted Mary as the Seat of Wisdom and the Teacher of the Apostles in understanding the scriptures.
Wisdom in the Old Testament was described as Mother, Teacher and Consoler and this artwork depicted that Mary's Role. Plus the Pentecost is the sending of the Holy Spirit to pour out Her Sevenfold Gifts to Anoint all the Apostles.Who do you think received the Highest gifts of Anointing aside from Peter who is the Leader?
The Clothing reveals who has the Highest Authority, that's why Mary is the Mother of the Church as She is the one who prepared the hearts of all the Apostles how to receive the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Mary is the Seat of Wisdom, the one who is greater that St.John the Baptist who can testify to all the Apostles the Truth about who Jesus is. The artwork reveals Mary is the "another Advocate" and the "Spirit of Truth" as the Holy Spirit was sent to dwell in the hearts of all the Apostles. Only Mary had perfected the dwelling place for the Holy Spirit by the Seven Swords that pierce Her Sorrowful & Immaculate Heart.
"Wisdom has built her house, She has hewn out her seven pillars" (Proverbs9:1)
Hope this explanation made you appreciate the priceless artwork you have in your possession.