Story of the Early Life of the Virgin (top register north wall)

 West          East







 Birth of the Virgin

 Presentation of the Virgin

 Wooers Bringing Rods

 Wooers praying

 Betrothal of the Virgin

 The Virgin's Return Home

Birth of the Virgin

 The Golden Legend (Sept 8, Nativity of the Virgin Mary): And Anna conceived and bore a girl child, and called her name Mary.

Presentation of the Virgin 

 The Golden Legend (Sept 8, Nativity of the Virgin Mary): When the Blessed Virgin was three years old, and was weaned from the breast, her parents brought her with gifts to the Temple of the Lord. Around the Temple there were fifteen steps, one for each of the fifteen gradual Psalms; for, since the Temple was built upon a hill, one could not go up to the altar of holocaust from without except by the steps. And the Virgin, being placed upon the lowest of these steps, mounted all of them without the help of anyone, as if she had already reached the fulness of her age. When they had made their offering, Joachim and Anna left the child with the other virgins in the Temple, and returned to their home.

Wooers Bringing Their Rods

 The Golden Legend (Sept. 8: Nativity of the Virgin Mary): When she had come to her fourteenth year, the high priest announced to all that the virgins who were reared in the Temple, and who had reached the age of their womanhood, should return to their own, and be given in lawful marriage. The rest obeyed the command, and Mary alone answered that this she could not do, both because her parents had dedicated her to the service of the Lord, and because she herself had vowed her virginity to God. The High Priest was perplexed at this, because on the one hand he could not forbid the fulfilment of a vow, since the Scripture said: "Vow ye, and pay to the Lord your God"; and on the other, he dared not admit a practice which was unwonted in the Jewish nation. When the elders were consulted at the next feast of the Jews, all were of opinion that in so doubtful a matter they should seek counsel of the Lord. They all therefore joined in prayer; and when the high priest went in to take counsel with God, a voice came forth from the oratory for all to hear, and said that of all the marriageable men of the house of David who had not yet taken a wife, each should bring a branch and lay it upon the altar, that one of the branches would burst into flower and upon it the Holy Ghost would come to rest in the form of a dove, according to the prophecy of Isaias, and that he to whom this branch belonged would be the one to whom the virgin should be espoused. Joseph was among the men who came: but to him it seemed not fitting that a man of his years should take so young a maid to wife, so that when all the others placed branches upon the altar, he alone left none.

Wooers Praying 

 The Golden Legend (Sept. 8: Nativity of the Virgin Mary): Thus nothing such as the voice of God had predicted took place, wherefore the high priest again took counsel with the Lord, Who said that he alone to whom the Virgin should be espoused, had not brought his branch.

The Betrothal of the Virgin

 The Golden Legend (Spet. 8: Nativity of the Virgin Mary): Being thus discovered, Joseph placed a branch upon the altar, and straightway it burst into bloom, and a dove came from Heaven and perched at its summit; whereby it was manifest to all that the Virgin was to becem the spouse of Joseph. And when the espousals were completed, Joseph went back to his city of Bethlehem to make ready his house, and to dispose all that was needful for the wedding.

The Virgin's Return Home

 The Golden Legend (Sept. 8, The Nativity of the Virgin Mary): Mary, however, retired to her parents' house in Nazareth, with seven virgins of her age who had been nurtured with her, and whom the high priest had given to her as companions because of the miracle. And it was in those days that the angel Gabriel appeared to her as she knelt in prayer, and announced to her that she was to give birth to the Son of God.