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The Holy Trinity or the Coronation of the Virgin Mary?

Traditional belief had it that God appeared mainly as the Creator and as an austere judge, whose interference in the fate of mortals occurred rarely and that contact with Him was only possible thanks to the intercession of holy intermediaries. An exception to the rule is a relatively rare depiction of the Eye of Providence, symbolising God as being generous and merciful, caring for everyone in need. On this woodcut print in the MEK collection, made from a woodblock dating from 1823, we see a pair of arms coming out from the clouds, feeding birds with grain and people with bread (cf. 7723 MEK).

Another group which is rarely represented comprises depictions of the Holy Trinity. Usually they show God the Father and Jesus in the clouds and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, hovering above them. The most common depiction found of the Holy Trinity in painting is the iconographic Throne of Mercy: God the Father holding a crucified Jesus, His Son, while the Holy Spirit is symbolised by a dove usually placed above the crucifix. The understanding of the dogma of the Holy Trinity caused problems not only for simple-minded peasants, but also for traditional folk artists. As such, the depiction of the Holy Trinity was joined with the Coronation of the Virgin, as Mary would be considered to be one of the ‘members’ of the Holy Trinity (cf. I.11005 BJ). Other mistaken Holy Trinities have included depictions of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.

Beata Skoczeń-Marchewka