Pietro Cavallini, The Dormition

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

As in many earlier works a funeral rite is suggested by the censer in St. Peter's hand and the omophoria the white stoles with black crosses, symbols of a bishop's authority on the shoulders of several apostles, but absent is the prayer book from which we often see an apostle reading the service for the dead. St. Paul prays at the other end of the bier while angels and the other apostles attend. In the center, Jesus in a mandorla cradles Mary's soul in his right arm. Her body wears the conventional blue mantle, but her soul is in the white vestment given to the newly baptized as a symbol of their rebirth.

The inscription below reads AD SUMMUM REGINA THRONUM DEFERTUR IN ALTUM / ANGELICIS PRELATA CHORIS CUI FESTINAT IP[SA]E / FI[LIU]S OCCURENS MATREM SUPER AETHER PONIT, "The Queen is carried to her throne on high, attended by choirs of angels. Her son hastens to her and places his mother above the sky."

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More of the Dormition

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