An image of Our Lady – University of Copenhagen

Forward this page to a friend Resize Print Bookmark and Share

Home > An image of Our Lady

03 November 2017

An image of Our Lady

Miracle of the Week

Each week we will publish one miracle from the collection of Marian miracles preserved in the manuscript AM 634-635 4to - one of the largest collections of miracles in a European vernacular language. This week we bring you a popular story of a miraculous portrait of the Virgin Mary.

“Af líkneskju várar frú” (Of an image of Our Lady) marks the beginning of this week's miracle. (Click on the picture for a larger version.)

Our miracle of the week this week, known internationally as Gethsemane (Poncelet 858), tells of a miraculous portrait of the Virgin and Child, painted by no human hand, which can be seen upon one of the four columns above the Virgin’s grave. Found widely in Latin and other traditions, it is Miracle no. 6 in Mussafia’s ”TS-series”, mentioned previously in connexion with the Feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In Old Norse-Icelandic it is found only in our manuscript, AM 635 4to, pp. 315-16, where it has the rubric “ Af líkneskju várar frú” (Of an image of Our Lady); the text is printed in Unger’s Maríu saga, p. 1032.

In normalised orthography, the text reads:

A facsimile transcription of the text. (Click on the picture for a larger version.)

Í velli Getsemane, þeim sem er milli Jerusalem ok fjallsins Oliveti, þar sem <er> leiði várrar frú ok hún var gráfin í jǫrð, standa fjórir pílárar grœnir at lit. Ok á einum pílárnum er líkneskja Guðs móður Maríe, sem hún hafi son <sinn>, várn herra Jesum Kristum, í faðmi sér. Hún er svá skær ok bjǫrt sem einn spegill. Fyrrsǫgð skript er eigi gjǫr eða pentuð með manna hǫndum, heldr fannsk hún þar sem vaxin af þeim sama steini. Sœkir þangat mikit fólk, því at þar verða margar jarteignir ok heiðr hinni helgustu Guðs móður ok jungfrú Maríe.

Which, rendered into English, would be:

In the garden of Gethsemane, which is between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives, where the resting place of our lady is and where she is buried, there stand four green pillars, and on one of the pillars is an image of God’s mother Mary holding her son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in her arms. She is as clear and bright as a mirror. This image was not made or painted by human hands, rather she was found there as if grown out of the same stone. Many people seek this place because numerous miracles occur there, and in honour of the most holy mother of God and virgin Mary.

 The Latin text is printed in Bernadus Pez’s Liber de miraculis sanctae Dei genitricis Mariae (Vienna, 1731), p. 346:

In sancta Getsemana, quae est inter Hierusalem & montem Oliveti in medio posita, ubi monumentum Beatae Mariae adest, in quo sepulta fuit, sunt columnae quatuor virides. Super unam vero de his columnis in sinistro latere posita est imago, quasi Christum, Filium DEI in manibus portans. Quae tantam habet claritatem sicut speculum, quae manibus hominum non facta, neque depicta, sed primum apparuit in ipso lapide picta, & valde ibi prae amore Sanctae Mariae veneratur.