Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Museum of Art

The Assurance to Joseph

The Assurance to Joseph, late 15th century
Pedro Berruguete
Oil on panel
Gift of Rev. Martin C. D'Arcy, S.J., on the occasion of the ordination of Rev. Donald Rowe, S.J., 1972-14

The Assurance to Joseph illustrates a theme rarely depicted in art. Joseph, the husband of the Virgin Mary, was troubled about the miraculous nature of Mary's pregnancy. His confusion and doubts led him to quietly consider divorcing her. At this time of crisis, the Archangel Gabriel appeared and reassured Joseph that he should put his faith and trust in God. According to Matthew (1:20), the Archangel Gabriel announced to Joseph: "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit."

The D'Arcy painting illustrates the moment that the Archangel Gabriel delivers God's message to Joseph, who raises his hands in a gesture of prayer. Mary sits beside Joseph on a throne, her pregnancy evident beneath her fine robes. The throne denotes her status as the Queen of Heaven, which is reinforced by the gold adorning her throne and halo, as well as the ermine fur trim on her elegant green robe.