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UL Art History Lecturer publishes paper on legend of Ismeria


University of Limerick, Art History Lecturer, Dr Catherine Lawless recently published an article in the Journal of Medieval History, which discusses the medieval legend of Ismeria, the grandmother of the Virgin Mary and the great-grandmother of Christ. The medieval legend is believed to originate in Florence.

Unlike more well-known versions of the Holy Kinship of Christ, where Ismeria is described as the sister of St Anne and grandmother of St John the Baptist, in this legend she is instead firmly described as St Anne's mother and thus the grandmother of the Virgin and the great-grandmother of Christ. Dr Lawless said: "most of the legend is concerned with Ismeria's life of penitential piety as a wife and widow and has little in common with standard legends of the Virgin or of St Anne. However, the legend has strong resonances within the world of late medieval Florentine piety and the type of 'new' sanctity defined by Vauchez, which is earned by a life of penitence rather than with blood martyrdom. These legends tell us nothing about the biblical or historical Christ, but do tell us a great deal about late medieval Florentine piety."

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