Thursday, December 25, 2008

Oh come, let us adore Him!

When he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith: And let all the angels of God adore him. And to the angels indeed he saith: He that maketh his angels spirits and his ministers a flame of fire. But to the Son: Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of justice is the sceptre of thy kingdom. (Heb 1:6-8)

The words of an old hymn sum up this scene of Christ's nativity. Born to the Virgin Mary who, together with her husband Joseph, knew of his divine origin, Christ was immediately the object of both love and veneration.

Here Mary and Joseph are joined by two other worshippers, the Virgin Mary's mother, Anna, who is often shown wearing a green cloak over a red robe (green symbolizing spring and rebirth; red standing for love). The younger man may represent one of the shepherds who first heard of Christ's birth from an angel. As they crowd the Christ Child, they responds to him with gestures of surprise and veneration.

The painter of this noble scene is Matthias Stomer, one of the last Dutch followers of Caravaggio, who worked in Italy most of his adult life.