Les Enluminures

Morgan MS M.1093, f. 67r

3. Hours of the Virgin
Infancy Cycle

Flight into Egypt, Miracle of the Cornfield,and the Massacre of the Innocents

The Gospel of Matthew (2: 12-22) describes how Joseph with his wife Mary and the Christ Child, after the visit of the magi, fled into Egypt. When the magi informed Herod of the newborn “King of the Jews,” Herod feared that the Child would threaten his reign. During the ensuing Massacre of the Innocents, Herod ordered all first-born children killed. Jesus was spared partly because an angel appeared to Joseph and warned him to take the family to Egypt. According to an apocryphal account, Herod’s army followed close behind, but they encountered a farmer who, when asked if he had seen a family pass by, replied affirmatively but added that they passed when he was seeding the corn (now miraculously fully grown). The soldiers therefore turned back.

The Virgin Mary, holding the swaddled Christ Child, sits on a bridled ass led by Joseph, who grasps the reins and carries a bundle. In left background, an armored soldier gestures to a man, who stands beside a cornfield. In the right background, another soldier holds a bleeding infant by the arm and fights off the mother. The foliate and floral margins include a hybrid man and a fantastic animal with huge fangs eating a bird.