Veronese - Paolo Caliari (Verona 1528 - Venice 1588), La risurrezione del giovane di Nain, 1565-70, oil on canvas, cm 102 x 136, Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum.
Month of June.
New Testament women: Nain’s widow.
Soon afterward he journeyed to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him. As he drew near to the gate of the city, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, he was moved with pity for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” He stepped forward and touched the coffin; at this the bearers halted, and he said, “Young man, I tell you, arise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming, “A great prophet has arisen in our midst,” and “God has visited his people.” This report about him spread through the whole of Judea and in all the surrounding region.(Lc 7, 11-17)
Diego Velázquez (Seville 1599 - Madrid 1660), Kitchen Scene with Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, 1618, oil on canvas, 60 x 103.5 cm, London, National Gallery.
Month of May.
New Testament women: Martha, Mary’s sister.
As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary (who) sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me." The Lord said to her in reply, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her." (Lc 10, 38-42)
The image is taken from: www.hermitagemuseum.org, by kind permission of the State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Maurice Denis (Granville 1870 – Saint-Germaine-en-Laye 1943), Martha and Mary, 1896, oil on canvas, 77 x 116 cm, Saint Petersburg, Hermitage Museum.
Month of April.
Women of the New Testament: Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus.
As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary (who) sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me." The Lord said to her in reply, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her. (Lk 10, 38-42)
Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijin (Leida 1606 – Amsterdam 1669), Anne the Prophetess, 1639, oil on oak wood, oval of 79,5 x 61,7 cm, Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum.
Month of March.
Women of the New Testament: Anne.
There was a prophetess, too, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in year, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem. (Lk 2, 36-38)
Giulio Romano (Rome 1499 - Mantova 1546) and Giovanni Francesco Penni (Florence 1496 - Mantova 1528), The Visitation, c. 1517, oil on canvas, 200 x 145 cm, Madrid, Museo del Prado.
Month of February.
Women of the New Testament: Elizabeth.
During those days Mary set out and travelled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord 14 should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed 15 that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled”. (Lk 1, 39-45)
Hans Memling (Selingenstadt 1433 approx. - Bruges 1494), Madonna and Child, 1487, oil of oak, 54.6 x 43.2 cm, Berlin, Gemäldegalerie.
Month of January.
Women of the New Testament: Mary.
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you." But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."
Albrecht Dürer (Norimberga 1471 – 1528), Eva, 1507, oil on board, cm 209 x 80 cm, Madrid, Prado Museum.
Month of December.
Women of the Old Testament: Eve.
Then God said: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the cattle, and over all the wild animals and all the creatures that crawl on the ground." God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them, saying: "Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth." God also said: "See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food; and to all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the ground, I give all the green plants for food." And so it happened. God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good. Evening came, and morning followed - the sixth day.
Denys Calvaert (Antwerp 1540 ca. – Bologna 1619), Abraham and the Three Angels, ca. 1600, oil on canvas, 147 x 161 cm, Madrid, Prado Museum.
Month of November.
Women of the Old Testament: Sarah.
The Lord appeared to Abraham by the terebinth of Mamre, as he sat in the entrance of his tent, while the day was growing hot. Looking up, he saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them; and bowing to the ground, he said: "Sir, if I may ask you this favor, please do not go on past your servant. Let some water be brought, that you may bathe your feet, and then rest yourselves under the tree. Now that you have come this close to your servant, let me bring you a little food, that you may refresh yourselves; and afterward you may go on your way." "Very well," they replied, "do as you have said." Abraham hastened into the tent and told Sarah, "Quick, three seahs of fine flour! Knead it and make rolls." He ran to the herd, picked out a tender, choice steer, and gave it to a servant, who quickly prepared it. Then he got some curds and milk, as well as the steer that had been prepared, and set these before them; and he waited on them under the tree while they ate. "Where is your wife Sarah?" they asked him. "There in the tent," he replied. One of them said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah will then have a son." Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent, just behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years, and Sarah had stopped having her womanly periods.So Sarah laughed to herself and said, "Now that I am so withered and my husband is so old, am I still to have sexual pleasure?" But the LORD said to Abraham: "Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Shall I really bear a child, old as I am?’ Is anything too marvelous for the LORD to do? At the appointed time, about this time next year, I will return to you, and Sarah will have a son." Because she was afraid, Sarah dissembled, saying, "I didn't laugh." But he said, "Yes you did." (Gen 18:1-15)
Palma il Vecchio, Jacopo Nigretti de Lavalle (Serina ca. 1480 - Venice 1528), Jacob and Rachel, ca. 1524/25, oil on canvas, 146,5 x 250,5 cm, Dresde, Gemäldegalerie.
Month of October.
Women of the Old Testament: Rachel.
Then Jacob continued on his journey and came to the land of the eastern peoples. There he saw a well in the open country, with three flocks of sheep lying near it because the flocks were watered from that well. The stone over the mouth of the well was large. When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone away from the well’s mouth and water the sheep. Then they would return the stone to its place over the mouth of the well. Jacob asked the shepherds, “My brothers, where are you from?” “We’re from Harran,” they replied. He said to them, “Do you know Laban, Nahor’s grandson?” “Yes, we know him,” they answered. Then Jacob asked them, “Is he well?” “Yes, he is,” they said, “and here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep”.“Look,” he said, “the sun is still high; it is not time for the flocks to be gathered. Water the sheep and take them back to pasture.” “We can’t,” they replied, “until all the flocks are gathered and the stone has been rolled away from the mouth of the well. Then we will water the sheep.”
Konrad Witz (Rottweil c. 1400 - Basel c. 1445), The Queen of Sheba before Solomon, c. 1435, oil on oak, 85.8 x 80.3 cm, Berlin, Gemäldegalerie.
Month of September.
Women of the Old Testament: The Queen of Sheba.
The Queen of Sheba, hearing of Solomon's fame, came to test him with subtle questions. She arrived in Jerusalem with a very numerous retinue, and with camels bearing spices, a large amount of gold, and precious stones. She came to Solomon and questioned him on every subject in which she was interested. King Solomon explained everything she asked about, and there remained nothing hidden from him that he could not explain to her.
Jan van Scorel (Schoorl 1495 - Utrecht 1562), Ruth and Naomi in the Field of Boaz, 1530/40, oil on canvas, 70.5 cm x 57.5 cm, Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum.
Month of August.
Women of the Old Testament: Ruth and Naomi.
Ruth’s story is told in just four chapters. A small book, bearing her name, for a big story; a small book featuring two women: Ruth and Naomi, her mother-in-law. The two women’s destinies intersect in Moab, where Naomi has emigrated with her husband from Bethlehem to escape the famine. There the two sons get married, and one of the two brides is Ruth. After the death of her husband and children, Naomi (who changes her name: no longer Naomi = joy, gladness, but Mara = bitter, unhappy) returns to Israel and leaves her two daughters-in-law free.
Luca Giordano (Naples, Italy 1634 – 1705), The Prudent Abigail, 1696-97, oil on canvas, 216 cm x 362 cm, Madrid, Prado Museum
Month of July.
Women in the Old Testament: Abigail
Abigail hastily took two hundred loaves, two skins of wine, five sheep ready prepared, five measures of roasted grain, a hundred bunches of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs and loaded them on donkeys. She said to her servants, ‘Go on ahead, I shall follow you’ -- but she did not tell her husband Nabal. As she was riding her donkey down behind a fold in the mountain, David and his men happened to be coming down in her direction; and she met them. […]