Ianua Coeli

Lift up your heads, o gates

Gate of Heaven

The elaborately baroque gate serves as Mary's throne. Her effigy is surrounded by stars and clouds. Her outstretched arms suggest openness, receptiveness. The open gate leads into an enclosed garden, symbol of her virginity. The angel with shield and flaming sword protects the open gate, which can be assimilated with the gates of paradise. The angel proclaims these words, "He has opened the gates of heaven" (Psalm 78:23). On the other side of the gate we discover the presence of the ladder of Jacob, with Jacob sleeping at its foot and angels moving up and down (Genesis 28).

The origin of this Marian allegory can be found in the Acts of the Council of Eplesus 431 (Homily for the Annunciation, 428, by Proclus of Constantinople or Cyzikus). The homily is based on Ezekiel 44:1-3, and thus alludes at the gate which shall remain closed, since the Lord has entered by it. The expression can be found in the "Ave Maria Stella" ("felix porta caeli"), eighth/ninth centies, but also in the "Alma Redemptoris" and the "Ave Regina Coelorum," twelfth century.

The lemma is taken from Psalm 24, "Lift up your heads, o gates."


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