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Acts 2:1-3

Mary and the apostles are seated in a firmly locked circular enclosure. The apostles are in profile, looking at the dove, but Mary faces forwards. They sit with palms raised. The dove of the Holy Spirit descends from above. In Acts (2:1-3) Mary is not mentioned on the scene, but as with the Ascension, she represents the incarnation without which there would be no Pentecost. Theological justification for this was explained by Odilo of Cluny whose homily on Mary at both the Ascension and Pentecost emphasises her role in the incarnation.

Mary at the centre of Pentecost is depicted in the 6th-century Rabula gospels (Florence, Bibliotheca Medicea Laurenziana, MS. Plut. I, 56), where all the figures are standing in an open area. The St Albans setting, in a curved enclosure is shown in the Carolingian Bible of San Paolo fuori le Mura where all the figures, including Mary, are seated. (AP,67, pl 119b,c,d, 137).

This scene, together with Mary Magdalen’s annunciation to the apostles and Mary at the Ascension, shows an important female emphasis in the life of Christ. This demonstrates both the growing cults of the Virgin and Magdalen, and the feminine spirituality of Christina whose life mirrored these scenes. Christina witnessed the Holy Spirit descending as a dove (Talbot, 1998, 156-7).

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