The birth of Christ has always been one of the profoundest and mysterious events in the history of humankind. Even for those not part of Christianity, the story of a Savior being born without, in a sense, a Father engages those who read the tale.

For Christians, the celebration of the birth of Christ also brings into the scene the image of a Woman conceived without sin. This is the Mystery of the Immaculate Conception, which also ushers in the season of Christmas in some parts of Christendom.

In the history of art, the 4th and 5th centuries demarcate the beginning of the many artists’ obsession with the story of the birth of Christ, the narrative of the Nativity. In these narratives, details abound, some of them with allusions to the Bible, from what are called the “Synoptic Gospels.” The Gospels according to Matthew, Mark and Luke together with that of John, along with the Apocryphal Gospels provide a massive canvas of stories and characters. The imaginations of the artists are accompanied by the skills and styles produced by traditions that are part of the flow of histories and cultures.

The artistic depictions created templates like the “Mother and Child”, more popularly known now as “Madonna and Child.” These illustrations were taken for devotional images but through the years they have turned into templates that are sourced for the ideation of Christmas. The story of the first Christmas evolved by way of friezes, panels, stained-glass windows, and manuscript illuminations.

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