Psalter of Queen Melisande of Jerusalem. Jerusalem, 1131 (?) or later (before 1149).

London, British Library, Ms. Egerton 1139, fol. 2v

The event of Mary visiting the house of Elizabeth, the future mother of John the Baptist, is told in the Gospels of St Luke (1,39-56). In our miniature the house is shown in the background with a maiden looking for, while the actual meeting of the two pregnant women took place before a glorious imaginary golden era; mirroring the spiritual content of the biblical dialogue inspired by the Holy Ghost: Elizabeth’s praise of Mary as the “future mother of the Lord” is answered by Mary with the psalmodic ‘Magnificat’, the praise of the Lord (Luke 1,46-55) which became part of the liturgical Vesper. Both women are shown at a similar age, which points to an earlier tradition, where Elizabeth had not yet been distinguished as the elder of the two. The gesture of embrace between the two women is one of two different ways of depicting the scene of Mary’s “kiss of peace” – but their inspired look seems to gaze far into a distant future.