Closer to Memling


Shrine of St. Ursula

Detail van het zesde paneel van het Ursulaschrijn. In deze scène wordt het moment voorgesteld net voor Ursula haar dood met pijl en boog. Te bezoeken in het Museum Sint-Janhospitaal, Brugge.

Hans Memling
Bruges (Belgium)
Oil on panel,
Polychromy and gilding

Musea Brugge,
Museum Sint-Janshospitaal, Bruges

This famous and very rare reliquary was made specially for Saint John’s Hospital. The shrine contains relics of different saints, including those of Saint Ursula, and could be admired on religious holidays, such as Ursula’s name day on 21 October. The Saint Ursula shrine takes the form of a Gothic chapel with a gabled roof. The long sides tell the legend of Saint Ursula and 11,000 Virgins in six painted scenes. It reads like a cartoon strip anno 1489. On the short sides, you see the Virgin as a Virgin of Mercy and the Virgin with nuns praying. The four small medallions on the roof depict music-making angels. The two large medallions show the Crowning of Maria by the Trinity, and a group of virgins. At the corners, possibly in reference to the shrine’s monastic patrons, are statues of saints: Saints Elisabeth and Agnes and the Saints John the Evangelist and James. Full of colour, light and gold, the shrine is a feast for the eyes. It is a combination of architecture, sculpture and painting.