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The Lady Chapel

St Mary Salome 

The Virgin Mary

St Mary Cleophas

St Margaret of Antioch

The Lady Chapel is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. She is clearly visible with the infant Jesus on her lap. In this popular 15th century image known as Maria Lactans she is breast feeding Jesus. This image also symbolised the spiritual nourishment that believers receive from Christ. Flanking her are two other Marys with their children. Medieval Christians believed that Mary was ever Virgin, so gospel accounts of Jesus's brothers and sisters were explained as belonging to his extended family. St Jerome wrote that the Virgin Mary had two half sisters also called Mary. Their mother was Anne but each had a different father. The two other Marys' children grew up to become important members of the early Church. Sitting at Mary Salome's feet (far left) is James, holding his scallop shell emblem and giving a pear to his brother, John who holds a bird, representing his eagle emblem. Mary Cleophas (to the right of The Virgin Mary) has four children. Simon holds a fish and Jude a boat, the emblems they appear with as adults. The two toddlers are more playful. Joseph has a toy windmill while James blows bubbles from either a bone or clay pipe. Manufactured toys were expensive and the sumptuous dresses worn by the three Marys indicate they belonged to wealthy families. The fourth panel depicts St Margaret, thrusting her cross staff into a dragon's throat. According to tradition she was a beautiful woman who was persecuted by a Roman prefect. She was then swallowed by a dragon whose belly burst open unable to contain her holiness. Later she was beheaded. St Margaret is the patron saint of childbirth. The historian Eamon Duffy suggests that women came to this altar to be churched one month after childbirth. This service marked their return to society and church life. Exquisite and graceful angels, no two alike, watch over them. 

Angel holding up back cloth behind the Virgin Mary

Joseph playing with a toy windmill

The cross staff of St Margaret of Antioch being thrust in to the dragon's mouth.

Sitting at Mary Salome's feet, James, holding his scallop shell emblem,

 and John holding a representation of an eagle 

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