Adoration in the Forest – Lippi

     This unique painting, depicting the Nativity of Jesus in a forest, is by the fifteenth-century Carmelite friar and artist, Filippo Lippi. Commissioned by a member of the Medici family, this artwork is meant to evoke a penitential spirit as well as a sense of awe from the viewer. The Infant Christ lies, not in a brightly-lit stable surrounded by shepherds, but in the dark grass of a field surrounded by trees, with His Mother kneeling beside Him. The wildflowers in the grass around Jesus, with their five petals, symbolize the five wounds which the Savior will receive on the Cross. Nearby thorn bushes represent the thorns with which Christ will be crowned. God the Father and God the Holy Spirit look down from Heaven. The only other witnesses of Christ's Nativity are the young John the Baptist, wearing a hair-shirt and bearing a scroll announcing the "Agnus Dei", and St. Bernard of Clairvaux, founder of the austere Cistercian Order. The two saints, looking at Christ from the dark woods, appear to be mystically present at the Savior's Birth by virtue of their holiness.