This is one of the most stunning compositions amongst the illustrations in the Beatus codices and the version in the Ferdinand I Beatus has even appeared in the film “The Name of the Rose”. Several texts explain the illustration which is dominated by a huge, red, seven-headed dragon: the backbone of the entire story. Its different heads fight the woman and the angels and vomits water into the desert into which the woman has fled. Although the large, corpulent dragon dominates the scene, the woman is repeated three times. The order of events must be clarified. On the right of the illustration is the winged woman bearing her son towards the throne of God. Heaven is symbolized by the stars against which the three figures are depicted. The woman, who has fled into the desert, is portrayed with large wings, and the snake alludes to said satanic animal. A winged St Michael, accompanied by two angels, fights the dragon, and defeats and vanquishes Satan and his angels. When depicted as Satan, he appears tied up in the depths of an abyss – portrayed as stocks – surrounded by eight of his wingless, naked angels. The dragon´s tail has swept one third of the stars from the sky.
Ángela Franco Mata
Head of Department of Medieval Antiquities
Museo Arqueológico Nacional