History : Mar-Apr 2018
72 MARCH/APRIL 2018 SEEKING DIVINE FAVOR In works of art, the Spanish royal family was often depicted before the Virgin Mary, who blessed them with her protection and grace. ORONOZ/ALBUM The Virgin of Mercy Diego de la Cruz, a Spanish painter of Flemish origin, cre- ated this panel around 1485. It portrays the Virgin Mary offering protection under her outstretched arms. The royal family appear on the left side, and on the right are a group of Cistercian nuns. The painting was made for the abbey of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas in northern Spain (where it still hangs) and was probably paid for by Isabella’s powerful ally Cardinal Mendoza. First Demon A demon shoots arrows at mortals but the Virgin Mary protects them. Second Demon A devil carries books in which men’s sins are written. Cardinal Mendoza An influential adviser to Queen Isabella, he was sometimes called the “third king of Spain.” Nuns of Las Huelgas The abbess, holding a staff, is surrounded by fellow Cistercian nuns. The Royal Family Queen Isabella, King Ferdinand, and their children kneel and pray before the Virgin.