From Nazareth to the Zacharias house, Virgin Mary was seated in a small female donkey
Year mention: 1649
The Annunciation ; The Visitation
Inadequate manner

The Holy Family depicted walking by foot and not seated on a small jenny (female donkey)

Pacheco, Francisco
Jeronimo Nadal, Visitation 1593, plate 2 from Evangelicae and Adnotationes (1593), which engravings illustrate the Biblia Natalis
Internet archive (original from Getty Research Institute)

According to Pacheco concerning the journey of the Virgin Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to the mountain of Zacharias’s house, the Virgin Mary didn’t walk but was seated on a small female donkey, with St. Joseph guiding her along the road. An example of this representation was. Fr. Nadal and his Visitation (1593), plate, 2 in the letter B22.

“There were from Nazareth to the mountain where Zacharias had his house, according to the most certain opinion, 32 and a half leagues, which the Virgin walked diligently (these are effects of the spirit), not on foot, as some want, but it seems to Lira and the Cartusian that she was seated in a small female donkey; which, says a modern scholar, that St. Joseph had for the ministries of his office and in which he carried what was necessary for bodily needs. He walked on foot, guiding her along such a long and rough road; this is how Fr. Nadal in his Visitation, in the letter B22.” 

“Había desde Nazareth a la montaña donde tenía su casa Zacarías, siguiendo la opinión más cierta, 32 leguas y media, las cuales anduvo la Virgen diligentemente (que estos son efectos del espíritu), no a pie, como quieren algunos, antes a Lira y al Cartusiano les parece que sentada en una jumentilla; la cual, dice un docto moderno, que tenía San Josef para los ministerios de su oficio y en que llevaba lo forzoso a la nececidad corporal. El caminaba a pie, guiándola por tan largo y áspero camino; así lo estampó el P. Nadal en su Visitación, en la letra B22”.

Quoted Authorities

Jeronimo Nadal, Evangelicae Historiae Imagines 1593
Luca Pirelli, Libretto d’ Imagini [… ], 1594

Model to follow

Jeronimo Nadal, Visitacion 1593, plate, 2
Luca Pirelli, Visitacion, 1594, p. 14

Bible, Elisabeth (St.), Joseph (St.), Mary (Virgin), New Testament, Visitation, Zacharias

Date mention

Historical Location

Type of Object

Iconclass Number

Pacheco, El Arte de la pintura (1649), book 3, ch.12, 597-598

Pacheco 1990, 598, n.22

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