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Natività mistica

Sandro Botticelli, circa 1500

The 'Mystic Nativity' shows angels and men celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. 

The Virgin Mary kneels in adoration before her infant son, watched by the ox and the ass at the manger.

Saint Joseph, sleeps nearby. Shepherds and wise men have come to visit the new-born king. 

Angels in the heavens dance and sing hymns of praise.

On earth they proclaim peace, joyfully embracing virtuous men while seven demons flee defeated to the underworld.

Botticelli's picture combines Christ's birth as told in the New Testament with a vision of his Second Coming as promised in the Book of Revelation. The Second Coming - Christ's return to earth - would herald the end of the world and the reconciliation of devout Christians with God.

The Private Life of a Masterpiece (BBC arts documentary): The Mystic Nativity