Sunday, June 19, 2022

Mystical Marriage of Saint Catherine

Mystical Marriage of Saint Catherine

The mystic or mystical marriage of Saint Catherine has two subjects in Christian art. First, it belongs to visions that either Catherine of Alexandria or Catherine of Siena received around 1347–1380. You can see the virgin saints having a mystical marriage ceremony with Christ where Virgin Mary was present.

When Catherine of Siena got the stigmata, Alexandria was martyred. Each subject was frequent in Christian art, where you can see one of the Saint Catherine’s. The other one is the infant Jesus held by his mother or an adult Jesus. Usually, you could not see both saints in a double ceremony.

Saint Catherine of Alexandria looks like a princess in her dress and wears rich clothes. Besides, she was often with a crown and loose long blonde hair. In addition, she carried a martyr's palm. People find the Saint Catherine of Siena character as a Dominican nun in white with a black over-robe open at the front. Let's dive into this guide to know more details aboutthe topic.

History of Mystical Marriage of Saint Catherine:

There was a belief that Saint Catherine of Alexandria lived in the third and fourth centuries. But we got the story of her vision in literature after 1337, after more than a thousand years of her death, and ten years before Catherine of Siena's birth. You can find it available in the famous Golden Legend's later versions. However, the earliest account version is available in an English translation of 1438.

The panel "Barna da Siena'' was drawn within a few years of the first literary mentions. Hence, you can find her as a famous saint in Eastern Orthodoxy. But it has not taken place traditionally in Orthodox icons. The vision of Saint Catherine of Alexandria wants to showcase in Western art the Infant Christ who places a ring on her finger, following some literary accounts. On the other hand, the Golden Legend version showcases him as an adult. In this version, the marriage happens among a great crowd of angels.

Saint Catherine of Siena may know the story where the Barna da Siena panel existed. The panel painting was done in Siena a few years before she was born. In the panel, you can find her as a child. Besides, she was praying if she would have a similar experience, and she did eventually. Religious images that this devout woman had seen previously stimulated her. In addition, the woman was also clear from the form of her stigmata. Moreover, Christ appears as an infant or adult in her scenes.

Although Giovanni di Paolo predates it as Sienese, she was canonized in 1461. The fresco made by Spinello Aretino or a follower in the Cialli-Sernigi chapel of Santa Trinita in Florence holds the existence of canonization for a few decades.

However, other than the Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, we have not found any big monumental images until 1528. An example of such an image is the central panel of an altarpiece. A Siennese painter, Domenico Beccafumi, drew one image for the Church of Santo Spirito in Siena. The mystical marriage to Christ is also one of the features of Saint Rosa of Lima, and she died in 1617.

About Mystical Marriage of Saint Catherine:

Before her death, Christ married Catherine of Alexandria, and it is the symbol of the pious soul's spiritual betrothal to God. Hence, you can see Christ taking a ring from the young John the Baptist. Besides, he used his other hand to take Catherine's hand to receive it.

Venetian art Carlo Ridolfi was very excited about the painting and wrote it as one of his most admired works. Later, the painting was removed from Venice to Jan Reynst's house in Amsterdam. But these features or attributes came into doubt by the nineteenth century.

A few of the current critics have accepted it as by Veronese. But Benedetto Caliari, who was his brother, contributed to its execution. The painting was of that time while Veronese became more careful about the High Renaissance & the heritage of classical antiquity. With Girolamo Grimani, Procurator of San Marco, in 1560, he came to Rome to visit. During this time, he gathered knowledge about Raphael, Michelangelo, and antique art.

Villa Maser, a humanist and translator of Vitruvius got fresco decorations in 1561 from Verone. Andrea Palladio, the most classically erudite architect of that time, designed it. In addition, this painting displays the impact of classical influences. Besides, you can find the figures organized clearly on an imposing stage. In addition, you can see him using figures and architecture in other commissions similarly during that time.

The 'Feast in the House of Simon' (c.1560; Galleria Sabauda, Turin) is one of the examples of his talent. Although he visited Rome, he believed he had copied the antique buildings at Maser. The origin was the set of prints that Hieronymus Cock made and copies of his prints by Battista Pittoni.

A landscape showed a city looking like Verona by a river, and a ruined building framed that. The artist in the Villa Barbaro at Maser has compared this with similar landscapes.

The painting shows a classical building which is not an exact quotation from Cock. It should derive from another source. For example, you can assume a Pittoni etching (Uffizi) that copies the building almost in reverse. You can see similar ruined buildings derived from a Cock print.

However, you can find an intimate relationship in the painting between the figures. Veronese explores it in his study covering a single sheet dated c.1568-9. It is now available in the Museum Boymans-Van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam. He and his workshop have done many other paintings. These have a relation with these drawn ideas as follows:-

1.     'Holy Family with Sts Barbara (or St Catherine),

2.     John the Baptist' of c.1562-5 (Uffizi)

3.     'Mystic Marriage of St Catherine' versions in

      Musée des Beaux-Arts,


      The Timken Art Gallery,

      San Diego and

      The Musée Fabre, Montpelier.

The Bottom Line: 

According to John Shearman, Veronese had created his idea dated to the mid-1550s. This unusual idea depends on a composition by Francesco Primaticcio. We hope the article gives you sufficient details about the Mystical Marriage of Saint Catherine.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Q. Who did St Catherine marry?

Christ married St Catherine mystically. It represents the symbol of the pious soul's spiritual betrothal to God.

  • Q. What is the symbol of Saint Catherine?

Holding a fresh green palm, Saint Catherine represents the symbol of martyrs.

  • Q. What is Saint Katherine known for?

She was famous for her holiness, asceticism, and spiritual visions. Besides, it is said that she had received stigmata. In addition, she worked as a political activist and a reformer. Moreover, the women were influential in Church's religious and political affairs.

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