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Madonna by Raphael, an example of Marian art

The Seven Joys of the Virgin (or of Mary, the Mother of Jesus) is a popular devotion to events of the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary,[1] arising from a trope of medieval devotional literature and art.

The Seven Joys were frequently depicted in medieval devotional literature and art. The seven joys are usually listed as:

  1. The Annunciation
  2. The Nativity of Jesus
  3. The Adoration of the Magi
  4. The Resurrection of Christ
  5. The Ascension of Christ to Heaven
  6. The Pentecost or Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and Mary
  7. The Coronation of the Virgin in Heaven [2][1]

Alternative choices were made and might include the Visitation and the Finding in the Temple, as in the Franciscan Crown form of Rosary, which uses the Seven Joys, but omits the Ascension and Pentecost. Depiction in art of the Assumption of Mary may replace or be combined with the Coronation, especially from the 15th century onwards; by the 17th century it is the norm. As with other sets of scenes, the different practical implications of depictions in different media such as painting, ivory miniature carving, liturgical drama and music led to different conventions by medium, as well as other factors such as geography and the influence of different religious orders. There is a matching set of seven Sorrows of the Virgin; both sets influenced the selection of scenes in depictions of the Life of the Virgin.

A series of articles on
Roman Catholic

Raphael - Madonna dell Granduca.jpg

General articles
Overview of Mariology
Veneration of the Blessed VirginHistory of Mariology

Expressions of devotion

Specific articles
ApparitionsSaintsPopesDogmas and DoctrinesMovements & Societies

Originally, there were five joys of the Virgin[1]. Later, that number increased to seven, nine, and even fifteen in medieval literature,[3] although seven remained the commonest number, and others are rarely found in art. The five joys of Mary are mentioned in the 14th-century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as a source of Gawain's strength.[4] The devotion was especially popular in pre-Reformation England. The French writer Antoine de la Sale completed a satire called Les Quinze Joies de Mariage ("The Fifteen Joys of Marriage") in about 1462, which partly parodied the form of Les Quinze Joies de Notre Dame ("The Fifteen Joys of Our Lady"), a popular litany.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Ball, Ann (2003). "Seven Joys of Mary". Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices. Huntington IN: Our Sunday Visitor. p. 522. ISBN 0-87973-910-X.  
  2. ^ G Schiller, Iconography of Christian Art, Vol. I,1971 (English trans from German), Lund Humphries, London, p52 , ISBN 853312702
  3. ^ George Coffin Taylor, "Relations of Lyric and Drama in Mediaeval England," Modern -Philology, January 1907, p. 6
  4. ^ John Anthony Burrow, A Reading of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Routlege, 1977, p. 45, ISBN 0710086954

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