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On the occasion of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Poland also known as the festival of Our Lady of Herbs, the National Museum in Krakow has prepared a presentation of a unique painting as part of the series 'Miraculous Power of Art'. Maria Immaculata surrounded by a rosary, from the parish church in Krosno, is an intriguing image of the Mother of God displayed in the Bishop Erazm Ciołek Palace.
The image painted in oil on canvas depicts Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, free from the original sin. Immersed in prayer, Mary has the moon and the serpent under her feet, while over her head hovers the dove of the Holy Spirit, and God the Father leans from the clouds and blesses her. The painting was meant to assist the faithful in their rosary prayer, which involves reflection on fifteen mysteries (five joyful, five sorrowful and five glorious). Each mystery is marked with a Marian symbol inscribed in gold, enclosed in a rose flower and foliage forming an oval rim around the figure of Mary.
The Marian symbols include: speculum sine macula (mirror without blemish), scala caeli (stairway to heaven), quasi plantatio rosae (like rose plants), quasi palma (like a palm tree), fons signatus (a sealed fountain), turris David (the tower of David), hortus conclusus (enclosed garden), templum Dei (the temple of God), porta clausa (closed gate), quasi cedrus (like a cedar tree), puteus aquarum (the well of waters), quasi platanus (like a plane tree), quasi oliva (like an olive tree), quasi cypressus (like a cypress tree), porta caeli (the gate of heaven). The symbols originate mainly in the Old Testament.
Along the bottom edge of the painting we can see an inscription: Tota pulchra es amica mea, et macula non est in te. It is a passage from the Song of Songs, 4:7 (Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee), which from early Christian times referred to the idea of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
The outbreak of World War I halted the negotiations on this matter, but in his letter of 21 September 1915, the parish priest himself – in view of the critical situation of the church during the war – offered to donate the objects to the museum. On the night of 3 to 4 October, Maria Immaculata surrounded by the rosary (along with other works and objects) was transported by train to Krakow. The relics from the Krosno parish church were purchased by the National Museum in Krakow for the amount of 1,500 crowns, and many of the items are currently exhibited in the Bishop Erazm Ciołek Palace.
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