Holy Women
 

The Twelve Apostles made a convenient grouping to depict on mediaeval rood screens, but women were certainly not neglected. Sometimes local saints were chosen, like Saint Withberga of East Dereham (here accompanied by S Benedict) from the screen of  Burlingham St Andrew, painted c.1536 (1: Norfolk). She holds a church with a central tower, just like East Dereham itself.

At North Elmham (2: Norfolk) painted c.1474, the saints Barbara and Cecilia areshown with their emblems, a tower and a basket of flowers respectively, whilst S Mary Magdalene at Bramfield (3: Suffolk) is shown carrying her jar of ointment as usual. In this richly dressed depiction, the artist seems to have been inspired by work from the Low Countries c.1500.

Sometimes more up to date saints appeared - the Spanish mystic Catherine of Siena, shown at Horsham (4: Norfolk), holding a burning heart, was only canonised in 1461, the screen dating from 1528. The same screen shows S Bridget of Sweden (5) writing down the words dictated to her from heaven (she was canonised in 1391). Possibly the donors had a special devotion to these mystics.

 

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