Picture Gallery
 
 
Mothers tossing unwanted children into a river:
 
This is the first in a sequence of fifteenth-century manuscript illustrations describing the founding
of the Hospital of the Holy Spirit in Rome in the late twelfth century.  The woman approaching from
the left looks furtively about, and the child being dropped from the bridge, though carefully wrapped,
has a weight attached to ensure it will drown.  Abandonment is frequently associated with rivers or
water in ancient and medieval texts, but the children were usually rescued.  The caption reads:
"How the pitiful sinners after childbirth undertake to avoid the contempt of the world, without a thought
for God or their souls; at the suggestion of the devil they throw their babies, without baptizing them,
into the Tiber in Rome."
 
Courtesy of the Hopital du Saint-Esprit: Manuscript sur la fondation, miniature 3 (Boswell: 14th page following 270)
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