Carlo Pellicani (after Carlo Buzzi), The Bed of Solomon

West façade, Milan Cathedral

This panel illustrates the Song of Solomon 3:7-8b, "Behold threescore valiant ones of the most valiant of Israel, surrounded the bed of Solomon. All holding swords, and most expert in war: every man's sword upon his thigh, because of fears in the night." In the exegeses, the valiant ones are the church, their swords are the sign of the cross that defends against Satan, and the bed is the "eternal beatitude in which the King rests with his saints" (Glossa Ordinaria, III, 1844).

However, it may be that in the context of the iconographical program of the façade (as far as I can make it out) the bed is somehow a symbol of the Virgin Mary. The panel is the second of four that flank the lowest part of the main door. The third one celebrates the power of the Ark of the Covenant, which tradition associates with Mary.

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