Skip to main content

Exhibitions

Discover our collection

The Virgin in the centre of the rose, surrounded by saints and children in the petals

The Virgin in the centre of the rose, surrounded by saints and children in the petals

From a manuscript of Dante Alighieri, La divina commedia, Italy, copied c 1350–75

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, MS Holkham misc 48, p 145

In the final verses of his La divina commedia, or Divine comedy, Dante describes the transcendent experience of being led to the highest levels of the heavens. The image on the right, from one of the earliest illustrated manuscripts of his masterpiece, depicts the episode in Paradiso, where Dante comes face to face with the Virgin Mary. Bathed in light, she is enthroned at the centre of the open petals of a sacred rose, surrounded by saints and the souls of deceased children. Rather than being presented as a miniature painting inserted in a page of text, the image here is part of a continuous series along the lower register of each page.