Zanobi Strozzi and Filippo di Matteo Torelli, Our Lady of Mercy in an Initial "S"

Manuscript illumination
Fol. 177v in a gradual in the Convent of San Marco
(Inv. San Marco e Cenacoli 1915-1924, no. 525 dal convento di san marco)

In this iconographic type supplicants are sheltered under the Virgin Mary's mantle. The supplicants can be any sort of group; here they are members of the Dominican order. In many examples of this type Mary wears a crown and is attended by angels. These are absent in this particular image, perhaps because of the limited space.

Usually images of Mary give her a blue mantle over a red robe. In the case of Our Lady of Mercy images the mantle's lining will of course be showing. It may be in any of a number of colors, but the green seen here seems to the most favored.

The "S" is the opening letter of the Salve sancta parens hymn ("Hail, holy parent"), which is sung as the introit a psalm or antiphon sung or said while the priest approaches the altar for the Eucharist of the Mass on feast days celebrating the Virgin Mary.

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