Pietro Cavallini, The Birth of Mary

Circa 1291
Mosaic
Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, Rome, Italy

The mosaic sets the scene in a sumptuous chamber with architectural details suggestive of tall buildings. As usual, the mother lies in bed while a midwife bathes the child. Not usual is the highly symbolic meal placed before the mother: two loaves of bread on the table, a lamb in the bowl, and most likely wine in the small pitcher.

The inscription means "O creator of the human race, you who remove the stains brought on by ancient blight to pardon our trespasses, may the Virgin be your shining silver wedding chamber." Smaller text inscribed along the bed frame labels "St. Anne" and the traditional abbreviation for "Mother of God."

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Photographed at the basilica by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.