Bernardino Fungai encloses his Madonna in the iconographic form of the mandorla (an almond-shaped aureole that encircles the body of a holy person), which was typical for depictions of her exceptional bodily assumption into heaven. Though the Assumption attained the official status of Roman Catholic dogma only in 1950, it was widely commemorated on a liturgical feast day (August 15) with late sixth-century origins. The mother of Jesus stands in the center of this panel and faces out from a celestial realm. Following the development of her cult in twelfth-century Europe, part of Mary’s importance to Christians lay in her status as a patron and divine intercessor on behalf of individuals, groups, and entire cities, particularly in Italy. Her piety, emphasized here by a gesture of prayer, invited similar acts of devotion from viewers in church settings. Resource: Linda Seidel, Pious Journeys: Christian Devotional Art and Practice in the Later Middle Ages and Renaissance, exh. cat., Chicago: The David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, 2001, p. 14.