A group of kneeling people, headed by Emperor Charles V and Pope Clement VII, pray and praise the Virgin, who appears with the Baby in her lap, surrounded by angels. This first tapestry thus deals with the prayer of the Hail. The escutcheons of the donor, Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca, are woven in the wool of the side borders. The mark of the weaver can be seen in the lower part of the right-hand selvage.
The ‘Salve Regina’, or more commonly, the Hail, is a late medieval hymn to the Virgin based on four antiphons which was spread by some religious orders. However, it was not included in the Universal Breviary until 1565, by Pope Pius V. This first tapestry of the series shows Mary in Heaven, seating with the Baby on her lap and flanked by four angels. A phylactery at her feet separates her from the earthly world, while showing an inscription with the start of the well-known antiphon ‘Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope,’ in Latin ‘Salve Regina [mater] misericordiae, vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve’.
On earth, two groups pray, headed by a pope and an emperor, and kneeling to the Virgin. Judging by the date of weaving, the pope must be Clement VII, Giulio de’ Medici, although this is not a realistic portrait because it bears very little resemblance to others known of this pope. The emperor, undoubtedly Charles V, does not resemble official representations either, and neither does his wife, Isabella of Portugal, located behind.
A group of three men on the lower left have phylacteries with biblical texts and the indication of the books where they come from, all of them related to the Virgin. On the opposite side, it is three woman who carry the inscriptions, coming in this case from the Apocalypse and repeating almost literally ‘mulier amicta sole, et luna sub pedibus eius, et super caput eius corona stellarum duodecim’ (Apocalypse 12, 1).
Praying figures can be seen far away, among a landscape with trees, a river and some buildings. Colouring is vivid and, although partly faded by the passage of time, it is still preserved in the foreground figures and the border, showing fertile vegetation.
Series The Hail
Manufacture Brussels’ workshops, a possible manufacture by Marc Crétif, c. 1528
Size 412 x 652 cm
Fabric Silk and wool
Location Cathedral of Palencia
Origin A bequest of Bishop Fonseca in 1529
On display North wing of the crossing in the cathedral of Palencia