25 May 2023

Our Lady's hair

I have occasionally noticed that late Medieval representations of our most blessed Lady often show her bare-headed and with her hair over her shoulders and arms. I think of the Marian banner in St John's College (reproduced in Duffy Fires); of the statue of the Assumption in the church at Sandford upon Thames.

And the Roman Pontifical, describing a Queen approaching her Coronation, says that she comes crine soluto. The records of the Coronations of Good Queen Mary and of Bloody Bess agree: she wears her hair loose and 'decently let down on her shoulders'.

One of the 'Horatian' poets of Urban VIII's  renascimento wrote:

Tu [his friend Rosa] rerum dominam canes,

     Et sparsam Zephyrorum arbitrio comam

Nudis ludere bracchiis,

     Et nimbos volucrum fundere crinium ... 

Medieval precedent, I think, going hand in hand with baroque movimento. 

1 comment:

Josephus Muris Saliensis said...

Dear Reverend Father,

The seal of the mediaeval shrine of Walsingham, of which there are two surviving impressions in the British Museum, one available as a cast in the Shrine shop, shows Our Lady quite clearly with long unveiled wavy hair beneath her ancient crown.