Lorenzo and Jacopo Salimbeni, The Birth, Naming, and Circumcision of John the Baptist, from The Life of John the Baptist

Oratorio of St. John the Baptist, Urbino, Italy

The panel as a whole references Luke 1:57-64. The scene on the left also relies on the Golden Legend's account of John's birth, which says that Mary (in the blue cape) "did the office and service to receive St. John Baptist when he was born." As in the following panel, Mary and John have round halos while Elizabeth and Zechariah's are square.

To the right of Mary, Zechariah writes the name IOHANES, Latin for "John," the name to be given to the child (Luke 1:63). This would be on the eighth day of the boy's life (1:59), the day of his circumcision, which is being performed by the priest on the right.

One element of the gospel story suppressed here is the "fear" that "came upon all their neighbors" (1:65) when Zechariah regained his speech. (The Golden Legend has "and all they marvelled.") Instead, the spectators all display a solemn calm.

The activity of the dog on the left could be a playful yet profound comment on the circumcision on the right, a ritual that will become nugatory in the new age that the baby is going to proclaim.

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