“Mary and Judith”

Ludolphus de Saxonia (supposed author). From Le Miroir de Humaine Salvation (The Mirror of Human Salvation), Circa 1455.

Image of Mary and Judith

The Virgin Mary with the implements used in Christ’s torture and crucifixion (left). Judith cutting off the head of Holofernes, the leader of an army threatening to destroy her home city of Bethulia (right).

Since we have shown how Jesus triumphed over our cruel adversary, we shall now come to a description of the power and force which the glorious Blessed Virgin Mary brought to bear against him. It should be known that although the devil was strongly armed, and although he had an arsenal of deceitful tricks, the Virgin Mary had already armed and fortified Herself with maternal compassion for the cruel and unjust punishments, beatings and abuses during the Passion of Her dear Son. Accordingly She brought to bear such strength of virtue that the foe of mankind was terrified at the sight of Her face. There never was, is not, nor ever will be anyone so foolhardy as to oppose Her will, for She was armed in too miraculous and divine a manner for the devil. Indeed, She bore in Her side the wound which Longinus gave her Son around His heart, the four wounds of His hands and feet, the needle-like punctures from the sharp thorns, the disgraceful taunts that had been addressed to Him, jeers, pummelings and other indignities done to Him; in short, all the mysteries which were administered to Her Son Jesus, our Savior, from the beginning to the end of His Passion. Oh blessed Lord, how beautiful, beneficial, and satisfying to God is this armor, since it terrifies the hellish foe, overcomes his temptations, turns to naught his enterprises and destroys his hardy powers. Because of this armor, the devil had no inclination to enter this glorious lady during Her lifetime, although he was aware that She belonged to the female sex, which is credulous by nature. Yet, thus armored, She herself got the better of him. In this connection the psalmist says, … “Oh Mary, mother of the King of kings, you shall tread upon the adder and basilisk; and you shall vanquish the lion and the dragon,” that is, Satan, the wicked serpent.

This armor of the glorious Blessed Virgin, is to be understood in the ingenuity of Judith and her poised and moderate demeanor. She armed herself so strongly against the enemies of the city where she made her home, called Bethulia, that she conquered them by killing and cutting off the head of Duke Holofernes, captain and chief of the army of King Nebuchadnezzar, with weapons both virtuous and memorable. Holofernes was excessively cruel and brutal. He desired to kill a very great people, and destroy and crush their city, just as Satan desired to do. And therefore, Judith had to arm herself with diverse powers of virtue, that is, with pleasing rhetoric and eloquence. Using these, she (was able) one night to cut off the head of the said Holofernes. And she returned to her city, where she was received with great rejoicing for her defeat of the enemy.

This womanly victory was long ago prefigured by Jael, the wife of Heber. When she perceived and saw the wrongs which Sisera, a prince of the army of King Jabin, visited day after day upon the people and lineage of Israel in his desire to destroy, exile and do away with them, Jael began to reflect. She decided to make him suffer and take the severest possible revenge on him. Finding him in bed, asleep, she took a great nail, and suddenly without more ado, put it into position and placed it against his temples, then raised a heavy hammer, and, without further delay, hammered the nail into the head of Sisera, whom she murdered and killed, just as Mary, the mother of our Redeemer did with the nails with which her Son had been attached and crucified on the tree of the Cross on the hill of Calvary.

“Mirror of Human Salvation.” Translated by David Wright with the assistance of John French, Jr. pp. 90–93. Newberry Call No. folio BS478 .S64

Metadata Details
Item Type Book Section
Title Mary and Judith
Publication Title Le Miroir de Humaine Salvation (The Mirror of Human Salvation)
Short Title Mary and Judith, 1455
Book Title Le Miroir de Humaine Saluation
Creator Ludolphus de Saxonia (supposed author)
Publication Date Circa 1455
Pages folio 30 verso
Language Latin and Middle French
Call Number VAULT folio Case MS 40
Location Special Collections 4th floor