Advent prepares us for the wonder of the incarnation, the enfleshment, of the Word of God. For centuries the mystery has been spelled out in very human representations: hymns and carols, creches, paintings, special foods and drinks, blessings, visits, givings--every sense, it seems, given its own share in the celebration.Here are two paintings ofa very human moment in the event for which we are preparing. Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth, both women pregnant in miraculous fashion. In the first, a work of Catalan Romanesque art from the thirteenth century, Ilove the simple affection and wonder on their faces.4069-6562The second is from Rogier van der Weyden, two centuries later. More formalized, it retains a very human character. I love how each woman gently touches the other's swellingbelly.

visitation weyden 15th c.

Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.

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