Holding hands – 2 September 2019

A woman and a child tenderly hold hands. Both have golden wavy hair and are dressed in clothes of soft pinks and lilacs. The woman looks down to the child with great tenderness in her eyes. The child, a boy, carries a basket of small rose buds, the woman carries a stem of roses. The woman has long delicate fingers. The child has slipped his hand into hers. Together they walk in peace and companionship.

This picture depicts St Dorothy with the Christ Child. The abundance of roses relates connects this female saint to Caesarea, the area of origin of this saint. The story of Dorothy, a martyr, tells how she was taunted as Christ’s ‘bride’. She believed that, after her death, she would enter ‘Christ’s garden’, as she called heaven, where roses were always in bloom and apple trees always in fruit. Just as she was about to be decapitated a Roman scribe, Theophilus, mockingly asked her to bring him some. At this moment the young Christ appeared miraculously, carrying a basket filled with the fruit and flowers, an event that resulted in Theophilus’s own conversion to Christianity.

The painting is by the Sienese painter, Francesco di Giorgio (c1460). It is a devotional panel, probably used for prayer by a woman, who could look upon the child, but also this holy woman who loves Christ so tenderly.

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

Isaiah 41:13

Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.

Psalm 73:23-24

Hold out your hand
and take mine in yours.
Let us walk together
through life’s doors.

Hold out your hand
And offer your wisdom to me.
Put me on a path to
discover who I can be.

Hold out your hand
for I am growing fast.
Before your eyes these small
hands will be a memory of the past.

As I grow I will always remember
when you helped me to stand.
And I will always remember
when you held out your hand.

Wendy Silva