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Medieval Wall Painting
in the
English Parish Church

Wissington, Suffolk (†St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) Late C.13

Adoration of the Magi
Dream of the Magi

Adoration of the Magi, Wissington

Very faint and faded now, these two scenes show the three Magi in adoration of the Infant Jesus, and Mary enthroned with him on her lap, each part of the scene shown within a separate tabernacle. Not much is left of any figure here, but all three Magi are present on the left, the leading Magus kneeling, and it is (just) possible to see that the Child is raising his right hand to them in blessing.

Of much greater interest though is an accompanying scene of great rarity, showing the Dream of the Magi, narrated in Matthew 2:12 but filtered here through the imagination of the skilled and thoughful Wissington painter. At the left of the scene, all three Magi share a bed in accordance with normal practice in the Middle Ages. God is represented in the dream by an angel, whose wings, like those in the Wissington Annunciation to the Shepherds, must once have been particularly gorgeous. I have seen this treatment of the subject in continental manuscript painting, but I know of no other example in England.

Dream of the Magi, Wissington

Although they are battered and faint, other scenes from the Infancy Cycle at Wissington will be on here in due course, along with the story of St Margaret. Here already are the Nativity (with Mary in bed this time), the Annunciation to the Shepherds, a Passion Cycle, the Weighing of Souls, St Francis preaching to the Birds and, newly on the site, Two Miracles of St Nicholas.

Website for St Mary the Virgin, Wissington