Ecclesiastical Dolls

The online collections of great museums are a treasure, and the Victoria & Albert is no exception. Dig around in there long enough and weird things always pop out, such as … Ecclesiastical dolls! The V&A has a set of fifty dolls dressed in the habits of the orders prominent in France, Germany, and the…

The Top of St. Thomas Becket’s Skull

The martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket has a been a popular subject for artists from the middle ages to the 20th century, but one detail of the murder stands out in a few depictions. These show the top of the saints skull being shorn off by the first blow, like so: And: And: Medieval art…

The Pierced Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Is the Blessed Mother a martyr? St. Bernard of Clairvaux thought so. Building on the prophesy of Simeon that a sword would pierce her heart, he preached that “only by passing through your heart could the sword enter the flesh of your Son…. Thus the violence of sorrow has cut through your heart, and we rightly…

Peter of Verona Exorcises a Statue

Four scenes from the life of St. Peter of Verona, also known as Peter Martyr, are depicted in frescoes at the Portinari Chapel, at the Basilica of Sant’Eustorgio, Milan. One of these shows an incident from his life in which he exorcised a possessed statue of the infant Jesus and the Blessed Mother, complete with devil…