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Storytelling in Miniature

Hans Sebald Beham
German, 1500–1550

Allegory of Christianity

Engraving, 1548
3 1/16 x 1 7/8 in.
Museum purchase, 1956.45

The winged figure in this print is a personification of the Christian faith. The staff with a cross refers to Jesus Christ’s role as the Good Shepherd of the Church; the Sacred Heart the figure holds symbolizes Christ’s divine love; and the representation of the sun is a reference to Sol Justitiae (The Sun of Righteousness): “The Sun of Righteousness shall appear ablaze when he will judge mankind on the day of doom” (Berchorius’s Repertorium Morale). Further, various details are labeled in Latin: the wings of the figure symbolize Victory, and her crown represents Reward; the Sacred Heart symbolizes Charity; the sun, the Light of Eternity; the staff represents Faith; the rainbow in the background stands for Hope; and the serpent crushed beneath the woman’s foot represents the Devil.