St. Dominic Receives the Rosary from the Virgin Mary

20th century
Stained glass
Frauenkirche, Munich

This is the central image in a large stained glass window (see below). It follows the tradition of placing St. Dominic before the Virgin Mary, who hands the rosary down to him. In this case, as in many but not all examples of this type, the Christ Child stands on Mary's lap. The rosary is of the type most familiar to 20th-century Catholics, with dividing beads to mark off the five decades.

The window was created during the repairs to the church after it was bombed in World War II. The mappa mundi orb in the boy's left hand is rare in Our Lady of the Rosary images. Like Mary's dark skin it may be a way of emphasizing the universality of the Christian Church – and of making an assertive departure from the racism of earlier in the century.

St. Dominic's scroll combines phrases from a number of Marian hymns: Regina sacratissima rosarii intercede pro nobis apud filium tuum, "Most holy Queen of the Rosary, intercede for us with your Son."

Mary's scroll bears the words, ego mater pulchrae dilectionis et timoris et agnitionis et sanctae spei, "I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope" (Ecclesiasticus 24:24, where the speaker is Wisdom). The Glossa Ordinaria (III, 2097) says the verse refers to the fruitfulness of the contemplative life, but it may be that because of "I am the mother…" our artist associated it with Mary.

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

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